Would You Care to Hear McCain and Obama’s Ideas About the Bailout?

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"Man, I can already smell the Cointreau." Photo: Getty Images

Last week's financial roller-coaster ride was capped off with the Bush administration's $700 billion government bailout proposal. As both Republicans and Democrats in Congress begin negotiating the specifics among themselves and with the White House, the presidential candidates are still working out their own positions. Will they consider only the economic ramifications of the bailout and not electoral politics? C'mon — we still have a campaign to run here, folks.

• John Harwood and Michael Cooper report that both candidates have "struggled to react to a situation that seemed to change each day." On the bailout, both Obama and McCain want more oversight "built into" the plan, and both seem confident that they can continue to pursue their "ambitious governing agendas" — specifically, their planned tax cuts. [NYT]

• Jonathan Martin writes that McCain had initially been "highly circumspect" on the bailout, but his support for a bipartisan oversight board, which he will explicitly call for this morning, "represent[s] the greatest distance yet he's put between himself and the White House on the unfolding financial crisis." McCain is skeptical of "over empowering Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson," who could be "out of office in four months." [Politico]

• Marc Ambinder writes that "[b]oth Obama and McCain face pressure to oppose the bailout" as observers of all ideological stripes "question the wisdom of transferring so much (unchecked, uncheckable) power to an unelected arbiter." [Atlantic]

• Mark Silva says both candidates have been "avowedly cautious" about the bailout. [Swamp/Chicago Tribune]

• William Kristol guesses that Obama "won’t want to run the risk of actually opposing" or raising qualms about the bailout, "lest he be attacked for risking the possible meltdown of the global financial system." McCain could play it safe and support the bailout with more accountability, or he could "take a big risk": "[H]e could decide that he must oppose the bailout as the panicked product of a discredited administration, an irresponsible Congress, and a feckless financial establishment." [NYT]

• Ben Smith thinks McCain's call for more oversight is "the latest in a series of attempts by McCain to draw a dramatic contrast between himself and President George W. Bush." Meanwhile, Obama is taking a more "reserved posture" in an attempt to seem presidential, but "both men are struggling with their sheer irrelevance to the fast-moving wrangle between the White House, Congress, and the turbulent stock markets." [Politico]

• Robert Barnes and Dan Balz say both Obama and McCain "offered a set of principles — strikingly similar — that the final agreement should contain." Both want restrictions on executive pay tied to companies that receive help, for example. [WP]

• Ezra Klein contends that, "as a practical matter," what Obama and McCain think of the bailout plan isn't "particularly important" since it'll be "passed in a matter of days, not after November." [American Prospect]

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