The Economy: Comparing Clinton, McCain, and Obama

Clinton, McCain, and Obama

Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos:Getty Images

All three presidential candidates stepped up to the podium this week to deliver major speeches on the financial crisis sweeping the country. The ailing economy is the top issue for many voters, which is a little ironic, given that many of them also do not quite understand how it works or how a politician might fix it. Not that there aren't differences in the candidates' plans — or pundits eager to highlight them.

• Paul Krugman summarizes the speeches. McCain was the anti-maverick, opposing any increased regulation of securities firms or aid to troubled homeowners. Clinton's proposals on mortgage restructuring showed "a strong progressive sensibility." And Obama earned points on broader regulation, but was, overall, too cautious. [NYT]

• Jane Sasseen breaks down each candidate's central positions: Clinton has focused on helping the unemployed and working class, Obama has argued for more regulation, and McCain has dismissed expanding the government's role. [Business Week]

• Ezra Klein calls McCain's approach "straight talk from a guy who doesn't know what he's talking about." As for Clinton, she shapes her image as the competent manager, while Obama paints himself as an inspirational leader that can change the culture. [American Prospect]

• Jim Geraghty thinks Obama pretends his bailout plan isn't actually a bailout because the idea is highly unpopular with voters. [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Noam Scheiber characterizes Obama's plan as "prudent and intuitive-sounding," though not especially innovative, with the most interesting passage being the criticism of the Clinton administration's deregulation efforts. [Stump/New Republic]

• An editorial highlights what the candidates (and President Bush) agree upon: "government-facilitated loan modifications for subprime borrowers" in some form. [WP]

• Andrew Leonard calls Obama's speech an "eloquent, nuanced, smart defense of" Wall Street regulation, while McCain's speech was "designed to make him look like he understood what was going on," and Clinton's promised "a boatload of quick fixes." Only Clinton and Obama understand that the country is facing a crisis, he writes. [How the World Works/Salon]

• Jeanne Cummings believes a challenge for all the candidates is not only showing that they have the right plan to solve the crisis, but also proving that they aren't indebted to the financial industries they seek to reform. [Politico]

• Gerald McEntee questions Obama's truthfulness on the subprime issue: His economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, defended subprime loans a year ago in the Times, and Obama has taken more money from such lenders than any other candidate. [HuffPo]

• But Christopher Cooper writes that while the Clinton and Obama campaigns are sniping about ties to subprime-mortgage lenders, both candidates have received about the same amount in donations from them. [Horserace/CBS News]

• Perry Bacon Jr. reports that Clinton, speaking about McCain's economic plan and referring to her own campaign ad, said, "It seems like if the phone were ringing, he would just let it ring and ring and ring." Bacon points out that there's probably no financial situation that would require an emergency 3 a.m. phone call. [Trail/WP] —Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.