Economy takes center stage with Obama & McCain (Upd)

Given the current news surrounding Lehman Brothers and their bankruptcy filing has once again given both candidates a reason to talk economy. For Obama, this is a good chance to get back on his message and deliver some criticisms of Republican economic policy which he can try and link to McCain.

A report from Politico with Obama’s statement and McCain’s statement on the issue:

Barack Obama, 6:17 a.m. Eastern: “This morning we woke up to some very serious and troubling news from Wall Street. The situation with Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions is the latest in a wave of crises that are generating enormous uncertainty about the future of our financial markets. This turmoil is a major threat to our economy and its ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills, save for their future, and make their mortgage payments.

“The challenges facing our financial system today are more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store. Eight years of policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans have brought us to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s a philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years – one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.

“Well now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain has trickled up – from the struggles of hardworking Americans on Main Street to the largest firms of Wall Street. This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy. For years, I have consistently called for modernizing the rules of the road to suit a 21st century market – rules that would protect American investors and consumers. And I’ve called for policies that grow our economy and our middle-class together. That is the change I am calling for in this campaign, and that is the change I will bring as President.”

Next, here’s McCain’s statement:

John McCain, 8:01 a.m. Eastern: “The crisis in our financial markets has taken an enormous toll on our economy and the American people — first the decline of our housing markets followed by the collapse of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now Lehman Brothers. I am glad to see that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have said no to using taxpayer money to bailout Lehman Brothers, a position I have spoken about throughout this campaign. We are carefully monitoring the financial markets, including the duress at Lehman Brothers that is the latest reminder of ineffective regulation and management. Efforts must also be focused on ensuring that the deposits of hardworking Americans are protected.

“It is essential for us to make sure that the U.S. remains the pre-eminent financial market of the world. This will be a highest priority of my Administration. In order to do this, major reform must be made in Washington and on Wall Street. We cannot tolerate a system that handicaps our markets and our banks and places at risk the savings of hard-working Americans and investors. The McCain-Palin Administration will replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street. We will rebuild confidence in our markets and restore our leadership in the financial world.”

Another report from Politico on their differing views of the economy:

The candidates split Monday on the strength of the U.S. financial system, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declaring in Florida that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” and the Obama campaign mocking the remark as out of touch with reality.

Sen Joseph Biden (D-Del.), the Demcorats’ vice-presidential nominee, said in St. Clair Shore, Mich: “I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn’t run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain.”

The remarks came as the campaigns struggled to calibrate their positions on the economy, the top issue with voters, following the “Black Sunday” collapse of the investment-banking giant Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. The tectonic shift in the financial system looked sure to ripple down to consumers in the form of tighter credit, making it harder for people to buy cars and houses, or start or expand businesses.

The Obama campaign quickly posted the video of McCain’s comment about the economy, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) planned to call attention to the remark at an event later in the day.

McCain told a rally in Jacksonville, Fla.: “There’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. … People are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think — still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times.”

More to come later on this story as it develops. The key here is that the debate, perhaps at least for a short time, has shifted back to being between McCain and Obama, not Obama and Palin.

More as it develops…


Report on Obama and McCain’s reaction from CBS News:

A round table discussion from Fox News:

I’ve heard time and time again, from strategists on both sides, that the economy will always be the overriding issue in every presidential election. In most cases, I would generally agree with that because people like to complain about the price of this or that, which seems to translate into the voting booth.

In light of the news today, which will be major news for a few days as it plays out, it will be interesting to see where the general public places blames and which candidate benefits.