Obama Offers Qualified Support to Rescue PlanBy Jeff Zeleny
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Senator Barack Obama offered his support on Friday to granting the Treasury Department the "broad authority as necessary to stabilize markets and maintain credit," but he said any rescue plan also should include an economic boost for working families.
Mr. Obama, after meeting with several of his top economic advisers here, stopped short of outlining his own proposals to resolve the crisis that has roiled the nation's financial markets and those around the world. He said that any government rescue plan needed to protect taxpayers from bailing out the "recklessness" of Wall Street.
"Given the gravity of this situation – and based on conversations I have had with both Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke – I will refrain from presenting a more detailed blue-print of how an immediate plan might be structured until I can fully review the details of the plan proposed by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve," Mr. Obama said. "I think it's critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling."
Mr. Obama said he believed the financial markets could stabilize and confidence would rise if the plan presented by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, in conjunction with the White House and Congressional leaders, was implemented.
"The markets have a lot of worry right now about what assets are good out there," Mr. Obama said. "The job, then, of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve is to break through that psychology and let people know that if you make this loan today, then tomorrow, folks are going to be able to pay this back."
Mr. Obama dismissed a suggestion that he was standing on the sidelines by not offering a competing – or a companion – economic plan. He said he was intentionally delivering a measured response to the economic crisis, following the guidance he received in briefings with Treasury and Federal Reserve officials as well as his own advisers.
Mr. Obama renewed his call for an "emergency economic plan for working families," and asked Senator John McCain and President Bush to join the effort to support an
economic stimulus package before Congress adjourns this fall.
"John McCain and I can continue to argue about our different economic agendas for next year," Mr. Obama said, "but we should come together now to work on what this country urgently needs this year."
Mr. Obama, flanked by several of his economic advisers, avoided sharp partisan words that have been furiously flying between he and Mr. McCain this week. But after addressing the economy in a setting intended to convey a presidential image of a Cabinet meeting, he raised the volume of his criticism during a rally at the University of Miami.
Mr. Obama dismissed an accusation made earlier from Mr. McCain that the economic crisis was partially his fault.
"He apparently now is really to assign my responsibility for all of Washington's failures," Mr. Obama said. "I think it's pretty clear that Senator McCain's a little panicked right now. At this point, he seems to be willing to say anything or do anything or violate any principle to win this election."
Mr. Obama said the nation's economic condition – and the massive government expenditures on repeated recovery plans – would not prevent him from keeping alive his pledge to offer middle-class tax cuts.
"I think now, more than ever," Mr. Obama said, "we have to have the broad-based middle-class tax cuts."
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