- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama this morning called for tougher government regulations of Wall Street and another $30 billion economic stimulus package. The Democratic presidential hopeful said he would rein in special interests as president, complaining the government has allowed the markets to bend the rules for the most profit at the expense of the nation’s workers. Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said at the Cooper Union in Manhattan. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales, he said. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both. He said the government must adapt. The American economy does not stand still, and neither should the rules that govern it, he said. The evolution of industries often warrants regulatory reform to foster competition, lower prices, or replace outdated oversight structures. Old institutions cannot adequately oversee new practices. Old rules may not fit the roads where our economy is leading. Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona issued a prebuttal to the speech, blaring in a campaign statement Mr. Obama was offering nothing but liberal tax and spend, big government policies that hit hardworking American families at a time when they’re most vulnerable, and are certain to move America backward. Mr. Obama’s Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also talking about the economy on the campaign trail in North Carolina, criticized the speech as well. The contrast could not be clearer - on Monday, Senator Clinton announced a detailed, specific plan to address the housing and credit crisis. On Tuesday, Senator McCain announced that he had no plan. And today, Senator Obama offered just words, Clinton policy director Neera Tanden said in a statement, calling the Obama announcement a series of broad, vague principles with no new concrete proposals. The campaign also noted Mr. Obama later today will hold a fundraiser at Credit Suisse, which issues subprime loans. Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced Mr. Obama, saying it is critical all of the candidates make their policy positions clear before what might be the most important decision of our lives this November. The Republican-turned-independent, who one time flirted with running for president himself, added: I have not endorsed a candidate for president, but have been very clear in my hope that all the candidates will explain in detail how they will address the great challenges in our country. Mr. Obama also proposed to: expand oversight to any institution that borrows from the government; toughen capital requirements for complex financial instruments like mortgage securities; and streamline regulatory agencies to end overlap and competition among regulators. This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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