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Obama, McCain want more oversight of financial firms

Latest update : 2008-09-22

After last week's financial and economic turmoil in the US, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is back leading in the polls as he accuses the Republicans to be responsible for the financial debacle.

White House contenders Barack Obama and John McCain focused on the troubled US economy Monday, expressing doubts about a 700 billion dollar government bailout for crippled Wall Street and calling for more government oversight of financial firms.
Democrat Obama said the Bush administration was saddling taxpayers with a "staggering price tag" to bail out finance firms but no real plan to fix the economy and blamed McCain for backing policies which fomented the debt crisis.
Republican McCain warned however that the emerging plan gave the government too much power to spend up to a trillion dollars in bailout funds and hit out at the concept of "golden parachutes" for failed business executives.
The latest sparring over economics came after the presidential race was transformed by the financial meltdown, and as the Bush administration and the Democratic-led Congress jousted over the terms of the rescue plan.
It foreshadowed the likely clashes at Friday night's presidential debate between the rival's in Mississippi, ahead of the November 4 election, the first of three.
McCain argued that Obama had shown a "lack of leadership" on both the financial crisis and Iraq, putting the needs of his political career ahead of the good of his country.
He called for an oversight board made up of figures respected in the business world such as billionaire financier Warren Buffett, his Republican primary opponent Mitt Romney and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"No CEO of any corporation or business that is bailed out by us, that is rescued by American tax dollars, should receive any more than the highest paid person in the federal government," McCain said in an interview on CNBC.
McCain aides said that the Republican would Monday use a town hall meeting here to warn about giving "a single individual the unprecedented power to spend one trillion dollars on the basis of not much more than 'trust me.'"
The Arizona senator was also set to warn against offering "golden parachutes" to top executives of failed finance firms, amid reports some top managers could share 2.5 billion dollars in bonuses.
Obama also called for more independent oversight of the bailout effort.
"I don't think it can be a blank check," Obama said in on CNBC.
"We can set up a system where there's an independent overseer, maybe the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Democrats and the Republicans each appoint somebody to oversee the system," Obama said.
Earlier, Obama said President George W. Bush's administration had so far "only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan."
"This initial outlay of up to 700 billion dollars is sobering" even if the Treasury recoups its money over time.
In line with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Obama said that US trading partners must help shoulder the burden of fixing the "global crisis" sweeping through the interconnected financial system.
But unlike Paulson and other Republicans, who called for a simple rescue deal, Obama said the plan working through Congress must protect hard-pressed voters on "Main Street" and not just corporate managers and shareholders.
Earlier, on CBS show "60 Minutes", Obama had argued that McCain had come late to calls for more regulation in the finance industry.
"The difference is, I think, that I've got a track record of actually believing in this stuff," the Democratic candidate said.
But earlier, McCain, 72, accused Obama, 47, of a lack of leadership on the financial turbulence wracking US and global markets, equating his performance to his initial opposition to the "surge" of US troops into Iraq last year.
"Whether it's a reversal in war, or an economic emergency, he reacts as a politician and not as a leader, seeking an advantage for himself instead of a solution for his country," McCain said.
"At a time of crisis, when leadership is needed, Senator Obama has simply not provided it," McCain told the National Guard Association, meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
"We saw the same lack of leadership on Iraq. Because of the sacrifices and perseverance of all the troops -- active-duty, Guard, and Reserve -- victory in Iraq is in sight.

Date created : 2008-09-22