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McCain, Obama Advisers Suggest Quick Action on Economy

The top economic advisers from both presidential campaigns on Tuesday expressed interest in pursuing stimulus legislation right after their candidate takes office in January, saying the financial crisis may dictate the need for another boost to the economy.

Congressional Democrats say they want a stimulus bill in November, when Congress returns for a lame-duck session. The White House has been coy, saying it would look at ideas but pre-emptively rejecting some proposals that Democrats have previously floated.

The willingness of the campaigns of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to consider stimulus legislation early next year could mean that failure to reach a deal in November would only delay the legislation by a few months.

Asked Tuesday morning during a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York what would be the first priority of their candidates’ administrations, Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee and McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin each pointed to the need to address the financial system crisis and provide an economic stimulus if necessary.

Goolsbee was more emphatic, saying the economy may require “extensive” stimulus. Holtz-Eakin, who broached the idea first, said economic stimulus would be provided “as needed.”

Beyond tackling the financial crisis, both aides said their bosses would seek to act on their energy proposals, agreeing that a cap-and-trade system is needed to reduce greenhouse gases.

Holtz-Eakin said McCain would generally look to act first in areas where he might find the potential for bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill, pointing to initiatives to reduce the cost of health care as a possibility. Goolsbee said Obama’s top priorities are health care, energy and winding down the war in Iraq.

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