Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Politics of Financial Collapse

Senator John McCain, saying that party politics need to be put aside at this time of unprecedented financial troubles, has declared his willingness to suspend campaigning, to postpone this Friday’s presidential debate, and come to Washington to help spur a bi-partisan attempt to craft a solution to the financial woes of the nation.

The pundits seem to believe that McCain, by going public first with a proposal to “set politics aside” until a rescue plan is agreed between the Congress and the White House, has scored points on his opponent who, as of this morning, had a 9% lead over the Arizona senator in polling on who is better prepared to handle problems with the economy. The pundits also believe that Obama will reject any delay in the scheduled debate this Friday but may well agree to suspend other campaign activities.

For my part, I would like to have the debate go as scheduled. But instead of being on foreign policy and foreign relations, it should address the financial woes so that the country can hear and judge what each nominee is prepared to do should he be elected president.

One of them, starting January 20, 2009, will be facing the consequences of the financial meltdown. The problem that will be most vexing is not so much finding a technical correction to a technical set of circumstances for which there is one or more sets of technical corrections or “fixes” that can be applied. The real challenge is finding the right balance between conceding the seriousness of the problem without undermining further “consumer confidence” in whatever remedies are finally agreed and in the fairness of the final agreement.

What is most important now is to hear the candidates – their ideas, their grasp of the problem, their proposed solutions. Rebuilding the public’s confidence is a long-term effort; the sooner it begins, the better.


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