- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GOLDEN, Colorado, Sept 16, 2008 (AFP) - Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama said Tuesday every American was now reaping the results of Republicans’ refusal to regulate Wall Street.

Promising stricter oversight to rein in excesses that are now blowing like a hurricane through the global financial system, Mr. Obama again castigated his rival John McCain for arguing that the U.S. economy remained fundamentally “strong.”

A new Obama ad repeatedly shows the Arizona senator making the remark, superimposed with news-style captions highlighting the collapse of investment giant Lehman Brothers along with mounting job losses and home seizures.

Addressing just under 2,200 supporters here, Mr. Obama said the crisis “is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed.”

“It’s time to put an end to a broken system in Washington that is breaking the American economy. It’s time for change that makes a real difference in your lives,” he said.

“If you want to understand the difference between how Senator McCain and I would govern as president, you can start by taking a look at how we’ve responded to this crisis.

“Because Senator McCain’s approach was the same as the Bush administration’s: support ideological policies that made the crisis more likely; do nothing as the crisis hits; and then scramble as the whole thing collapses. My approach has been to try to prevent this turmoil.”

Mr. Obama called for a “21st century regulatory framework” to govern Wall Street, which has benefited from two decades of deregulation since Republican president Ronald Reagan.

Under his plan, mortgage brokers and investment houses would come in for the same regulatory supervision as commercial banks.

Minimum capital requirements would go up for all firms, and credit risk agencies would be monitored to prevent conflicts of interest.

The Securities and Exchange Commission should be given new powers to stop “trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation,” which has been “especially problematic” in this crisis, the Democrat said.

And bankruptcy laws would be reformed to make it easier for families facing repossession to stay in their homes, he said.

Bankruptcy judges cannot allow a family owning just one home to stave off financial failure by writing down the value of the mortgage.

“If you own seven homes, the judge is free to write down any or all of the debt on your second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh homes,” Mr. Obama said in a broadside at the McCain family’s extensive property portfolio.

“Now that may be of comfort to Senator McCain, but that’s the kind of out-of-touch Washington loophole that makes no sense. When I’m president, we’ll make our laws work for working people.”

Mr. Obama said Mr. McCain was offering “the oldest Washington stunt in the book” by proposing to appoint a presidential commission to make recommendations on the financial crisis.

“But here’s the thing — this isn’t 9/11,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I’ll provide it, John McCain won’t, and that’s the choice for the American people in this election.”

An ABC News/Washington Post poll earlier this month found 47 percent of voters trusted Mr. Obama to run the economy and 42 percent trusted Mr. McCain. The Democrat had enjoyed a much wider lead on the issue for much of this year.

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