McCain to Address Economic Crisis
By Michael D. Shear
Sen. John McCain plans to declare the nation's economy in "crisis" this morning at a speech aimed at bolstering his image on domestic issues.
In a speech to a small business group in Southern California to be delivered at 10 a.m. Pacific time, McCain will play amateur economist, describing the development of the housing bubble and the forces that combined to burst it, according to prepared remarks.
"The net result is the crisis we face," McCain will tell the group. "What started as a problem in subprime loans has now convulsed the entire financial system."
The speech is the beginning of an effort to shift the perception that McCain's only expertise is on foreign policy and military matters.
Democrats, including his potential rivals for the presidency, have hammered McCain, saying he appears disconnected from the economic situation for most Americans and has not laid out an economic vision for the country.
In one recent e-mail, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee cited a comment about the housing crisis that McCain made to a newspaper editorial board, in which he said: "But I can't come down yet and give you a specific solution because I don't claim to be smart enough."
McCain's recent trip to the Middle East and Europe played to his strengths on the world stage even as the economic situation at home was worsening. And a comment he made during the primary campaign -- that he didn't know that much about the economy -- hasn't helped.
Today, McCain will acknowledge the pain that many Americans are feeling, saying that "while I was traveling overseas, our financial markets experienced another round of upheaval. This market turmoil leaves many Americans feeling both concerned and angry."
But while his remarks indicate that he remains open to a wide range of solutions, including government assistance, he makes clear that his patience for a bailout would be very short.
"Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren't," he plans to say. "When we commit taxpayer dollars as assistance, it should be accompanied by reforms that ensure that we never face this problem again."
He also will call for immediate meetings of both the nation's top accounting officials and of the nation's mortgage lenders. And he will call on lenders to do everything they can to keep creditworthy customers in their homes.
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