McCain Questions Bailout; Obama Offers Plan

Posted September 22, 2008 at 12:08pm

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) today expressed deep concerns about the $700 billion bailout package crafted by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, saying the plan needs more oversight.

“Never before in the history of our nation has so much power and money been concentrated in the hands of one person,” McCain said during an appearance in Scranton, Pa. “This arrangement makes me deeply uncomfortable.”

McCain called for creation of a bipartisan board to oversee the bailout process. Briefing reporters today, McCain campaign chiefs Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt refused to say whether McCain would ultimately back legislation being hammered out by the administration and lawmakers, calling it a “hypothetical package” that is not done yet.

McCain today also sided with Democrats seeking to limit CEO pay, saying corporate chiefs of companies bailed out by the government should earn no more than the highest-paid U.S. government employee.

Davis found himself defending his own background during the call, rebutting a New York Times article today that said he was paid nearly $2 million to run a coalition set up by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Davis said the coalition sought to increase home ownership and included nearly 20 other members in addition to Fannie and Freddie. He added that he did not lobby as part of his duties.

Meanwhile, in remarks this afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is calling for providing the Federal Reserve with supervisory authority over any financial institution to which it might make credit available as a lender of last resort, according to a summary of his plans released by the campaign.

Obama, who is speaking in Green Bay, Wis., would also seek to streamline federal oversight by reducing overlap among regulatory agencies and strengthening capital and liquidity requirements for financial institutions.

Obama also is offering a series of proposals to increase the effectiveness of government, including a plan to save money by reducing federal contracting by 10 percent.

He would also establish a new “Chief Performance Officer” in the White House who would head a “SWAT Team” that would work “to improve results and outcomes for federal government programs while eliminating waste and inefficiency,” the summary states.