Obama today

… looked like a President. He had no company in that.

I’m not sure Barack Obama was right to agree to pass a Toxic Waste bill holding out only for oversight, a chance for the taxpayers to get their investment back, help for distressed homeowners, and compensation limitation. It’s a long way from “New Deal or no deal.” But, combined with the proposal for a joint statement by the two Presidential candidates, (designed to keep McCain from leaving everyone else holding the bag politically by voting “no”) it was clearly the course of action best calculated to avoid a train wreck.

We had three statements today: one by a President and two by Presidential candidates. Only one of the three was Presidential.

At the bottom are videos of the statements by President Obama, former President Bush, and court jester McCain.

Even while he was laying out the evidence that McCain is a dirty double-crosser, Barack Obama avoided saying so, or appearing perturbed about having been double-crossed. And he neatly twisted the knife by saying at the beginning that the idea of a joint statement came from Tom Coburn.

Interesting side-note on Bush’s speech: he said that the purchases of dud assets would be at “current, low prices,” not at what Paulson has been calling “hold-to-maturity” prices. That would be nice, if true. I’ll believe it when I see it. No confession of error, of course, either in theory or practice. And insults, but no bail-out, for homeowners in trouble; what did they ever contribute to his campaigns?

McCain isn’t even bothering to deny Obama’s account of McCain’s Pearl Harbor attack. And Barney Frank says that Bush and McCain didn’t bother to check with the people doing the actual work before calling the meeting, and points out that time spent in photo-ops is time not spent solving the problem.

In the meantime, the mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse-sized pile of bullsh!t. Here’s the text of the joint statement by Obama and McCain (weirdly, the last sentence is word-for-word the last sentence of Bush’s speech; not clear who was stealing from whom, or whether this particular piece of b.s. invented independently by two different b.s. artists):

The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.

Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.

This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

In other words, McCain and Obama failed to agree on anything whatever except that there is a crisis.

Obama’s folks issued a more substantive statement, which apparently they couldn’t get McCain’s folks to agree to:

First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.

Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.

Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.

Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.

Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.

This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com