Economy now front and center in 2008

Continuing the debate over the economy today, both candidates were offering statements and positions on the current economic news. For Obama, the past few days have represented an opening, to some extent, on an issue where voters seem to favor him over McCain.

Report from Fox News:

Casting himself as a man of action amid ongoing turmoil in the U.S. financial markets, John McCain said Thursday that if he were president, he would fire Securities and Exchange Chairman Chris Cox.

The Republican presidential candidate accused Cox, the former GOP congressman, of betraying the public’s trust in the wake of a series of financial collapses of major investment and insurance firms on Wall Street.

“You can’t wait any longer for more failures in our financial system,” McCain told voters at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

McCain’s certitude did not move Barack Obama or his Democratic supporters, who pounced on McCain’s proclamation.

“Now all of the sudden he has become a populist,” Obama said of his rival at a rally in Espanola, N.M. “I think (calling for Cox’s firing is) all fine and good but … you can fire the whole trickle-down, on-your-own, look-the-other-way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don’t just get rid of one guy, get rid of this administration, get rid of this philosophy.”

New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who sits on the finance and banking committees, said McCain ought to explain his own policies rather than calling for firings.

“Calling for someone to be fired in the middle of this crisis might sound really nice, but it doesn’t do anything to help people and calm the markets,” he said.

The prolonged back and forth over is part of a heightened effort this week by the campaigns to cast one one another as bereft of ideas for saving an economy that has seen the federal government shell out billions in taxpayer money to lift up foundering financial behemoths.

Obama said Thursday he was calling on the Treasury and Federal Reserve to “use their emergency authorities to maintain the flow of credit, to support the availability of mortgages and to ensure that our financial system is well capitalized.” He said he would unveil new proposals Friday after meeting with senior economic advisers.

Specifically, McCain called for the creation of a public-private entity that would identify weak financial institutions in need of help.

Report from CBS News on McCain bashing President Bush’s economic policies and Wall Street’s actions:

Report from NBC News on the economy taking over the campaign:

We’ll continue to cover the economic back and forth as it continues. The longer this discussion continues, clearly the better for Obama since polls favor him on economic issues. McCain, for his part, has been coming out strong on the economy both criticizing Bush and Wall Street, we’ll see if that benefits him in the coming days.

On a personal note, I have been absent for the past 48 hours or so with a family medical issue. Everything is doing better now and we’ll be back to normal operation.