Skip to content

White House Takes Fire Over Wall St. Woes

The Bush administration Monday found itself on the firing line from all sides over the Wall Street financial crisis, with Democrats launching expected attacks and the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) appearing to gently distance itself from the president.

President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson emphasized what they view as the fundamental soundness of the financial system.

“I’m confident that our capital markets are flexible and resilient and can deal with these adjustments,” Bush said in remarks at the White House.

But Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois said the United States was facing “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression” and blamed Washington and policies backed by McCain for the trouble.

“For eight years, we’ve had policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans,” Obama said in remarks in Grand Junction, Colo. “Today offers more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store.”

In comments that nearly reflected Obama’s, Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska also suggested that Washington inexcusably missed the crisis.

“Washington has ignored this,” Palin said during a rally in Golden, Colo. “Washington has been asleep at the switch and ineffective.”

During an appearance in Jacksonville, Fla., McCain said his administration would avoid such a catastrophe.

“I promise you we will never put America in this position again,” McCain said. In a statement issued by his campaign, McCain said he would act as president to fix the system.

“The McCain/Palin administration will replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street,” McCain said. “We will rebuild confidence in our markets and restore our leadership in the financial world.”

Briefing reporters at the White House, Paulson Monday noted that the administration is seeking “major changes,” many of which he outlined earlier this year. But he noted that it would take time for Congress to enact them, and that he was currently working “with the tools we have.”

The Bush administration is not currently seeking a short-term boost to the economy from Congress, pushing instead for longer-term assistance through initiatives such as energy legislation or trade deals.

White House press secretary Dana Perino Monday indicated there has been no change in the administration’s position on a second stimulus package. Administration sources said last week there is no appetite for further stimulus legislation from Congress.