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Obama's Economic Deep Dive

By Jonathan Weisman
Seeking to demonstrate not only his acumen but his access, Sen. Barack Obama had one-on-one audiences with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson -- talks much more reminiscent of a president than a candidate or a junior senator.

With Paulson, the focus of an extended phone conversation was the future of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the expanded authority Paulson will receive from a just-passed housing law. According to an Obama economic adviser, the senator from Illinois wanted to hear from the Bush Treasury secretary just how he would use that authority and press him to make sure his focus was more on keeping capital flowing to mortgage holders, not bailing out Fannie and Freddie shareholders and executives. He also wanted to hear how quickly Paulson could act to set up the new regulatory structures authorized by the law.

"This is as much authority as a Treasury secretary has ever had," said the Obama adviser, who was cleared to speak only without being named. "The next administration can make changes, but he'd [Obama] much rather see the next Treasury secretary build on what this Treasury secretary does," instead of starting from scratch.

Obama's message to Bernanke this afternoon at the Fed is that he respects the independence of the Fed and does not wish to influence the chairman's decisions. Instead, Obama is seeking Bernanke's views on the state of an economy that Obama said yesterday was in crisis, and where that economy is heading in the near term.

Since Bernanke took the lead in pressing for a restructuring of the housing credit market, Obama wants his take on the new legislation and what more needs to be done by Congress and the president. He'll also talk to Bernanke about his push for additional stimulus measures of at least $50 billion, some of that for housing, some for more tax rebates and still more for aid to state and local governments. The economic aide said issues of the looming record budget deficit and energy prices are likely to come up, but the focus will be near-term action to right the economy, not long term action to get the nation's fiscal house in order.

Obama met this morning with Democratic women leaders, many of whom strongly backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the nomination. Ellen Malcolm, president of Emily's List, which funds women Democratic candidates, said Obama brought up Clinton, saying he had recently spoken with her. But the focus was on the economy and the special burdens women are bearing.

"The whole conversation revolved around the incredible pressures women are feeling in this economy," Malcolm said, promising that "by the time of the convention, Democrats will be totally united."

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 29, 2008; 1:53 PM ET
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This does not bode well.


Posted by: PacificGatePost | July 29, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I strongly support Obama and anybody he chooses for VP -- as long as it is not Clinton.

Posted by: Mike | July 29, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Another photo op... He should have done this loing time back when he put together his plan..

Posted by: hs | July 29, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I see some comments on here from those criticizing Obama for meeting with individuals, such as Bernanke, who hold a vast amount of influence on and significance within our country.

Please explain yourselves. As far as we know, Obama is exchanging information with leading economists as well as leading foreign policy experts in order to gather as much information as possible. Sure, he is a liberal, but he consults liberals and conservatives. How is this negative in any way?

If you want to criticize his opinions, go ahead. But an informed leader is a better one. Acting unilaterally, whether as a president or a country will seldom move the country forward. In fact, it typically will lead the country backwards, much like the last 8 years of Bush. Open communication lines are key to any leadership role, and the President is no different.

Criticizing Obama's intelligence (Harvard Law Grad) or the fact that he is reaching out to people is laughable. Criticizing his views is legitimate.

Posted by: BryanG | July 29, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Barack Obama is a "attempting to be all things to all people"... (aka: Chameleon)

Is Barack working the FED or is the FED working Barack? I think his ego is affecting his better judgment.

As many of us know, JFK was no friend of the Federal Reserve. In fact, read Executive Order 11110 by President Kennedy.

When you mix Ending the Vietnam War and Nationalizing the money supply...Cause & Effect...?

Decide for yourself...

Posted by: Randy | July 29, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Barrack Obama is getting less and less like JFK every day. JFK understood the travisty of the Fed and worked to diminish their operation. And today Obama licks their boots. Obama you sure ain't no JFK.

Posted by: A Recent Obama Supporter | July 29, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Doc. Obama still doesn't have a clue. The guy he needs to talk to is not Mr. Bernake but Mr. Greenspan.

Posted by: pete | July 29, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Why does McCain rate a D- with Veteran Oragizations and Obama rates a B+ with the same Veteran groups. Google it. McCain is like a chameleon, the ethics of a snake.
Mccain should get the media attention he so craves. He should be careful for what he wishes for. goading Obama into Overseas trips, No brainer! When the light of the truth is shined upon McCain, He will appear very different.

Posted by: Elitist | July 29, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Schuck and jive community organizer to discuss advanced economics concepts with the Fed? Sure.....

Posted by: N.F. | July 29, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Once again Senator Barack Obama is showing his leadership,his vision about how he will fix the economy once elected President. As the Berbere of Algeria say,"There are five degrees of wisdom: to keep silent, to listen, to remember, to act,to study." You are in the right track Senator ! Bravo !

Posted by: Guy Blaise | July 29, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse


Obama has already proved he cared more about the long term welfare of those troops than McCain when he left an active campaign against Hillary Clinton to vote in Washington for increased veteran bnefits. McCain was too preoccupied running against no one to show up in Washington to vote.

If McCain is so concerned about the welfare of the troops why does he not define what a victory looks like? McCain knows what it looks like but if he says it it will be what Obama has been saying for a year.

McCain lacks the vision, the organization and the leadership skills to be president. According to reading your posts for the last few days, you don't even care about McCain's qualifications.

On the other hand Obama has the wrong middle name and in your opinion should have visited the troops. After all McCain wears a Navy cap, that should be enough to be president. McCain the foreign policy expert has no mid east policy.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 29, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA = vibrant, smart, forward thinking

McCain = old, sleepy, techno illiterate

Who do you think will get us back on track? Another Republican a**hole? Not.

Posted by: Ben Dover | July 29, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

McLazy is not going to win. Why? Because the American public does not like old men with swollen cheeks. He is McCrankyPants...and known by a host of other derogatory appellations. He is a joke; a man that once was a hero, but now is in his dotage still trying to trade on things of the past. swe need someone for the future.

Posted by: Ben Dover | July 29, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

McCain's declared war on earmarks, and you want someone MORE fiscally conservative than that?!
Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:20 PM

Are you as ignorant as you sound?

The Bush-McCain deficit is now $482 billion and that is probably an underestimate, as it comes from Bush-McCain. They are one and the same on fiscal policy: neither can count to ten and both were/are guided on fiscal policy by the same man, Douglas Holz-Eakin.

Earmarks total $18 billion -- cutting them out won't change anything.

P.S. Earmarks were much lower before the Republicans took over in 2003. They are the EARMARK PARTY.

Posted by: mnjam | July 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

McLame is a whiner and a poor sport. He's just fine if you kiss his ass, but if you oppose him, he is a mean spirited as a junkyard dog with the clap.

Posted by: Ben Dover | July 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

JakeD - McCain could get a one-on-one meeting. He just wouldn't know what to say once the meeting started.

Posted by: JudyNC | July 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Obama went to Washington to vote to raise the benefits of those soldiers and John McCain did not think enough of them to vote for their raise. He stayed on the campaign trail with no opponent at the time.. As has been said before on visiting the troops you do not know the whole story, you know the part you want to.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 29, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"Factory Worker, Akron Ohio:

It is not a "lie" to point out that Barack Hussein Obama called off a visit to wounded troops (see threads below).

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:14 PM"

Let's not play games here, we all know why he did it, had he gone ahead with the visit the headlines would have been: "Obama electioneers on the backs of wounded soldiers, defies the pentagon's orders!!"

He IN FACT called several of them and talked to them at length as to why he could not visit them. Oh, BTW McCain did the same thing a couple of months ago, now he's crying about Obama?, what a hypocrite.

Posted by: JR | July 29, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse


McCain's declared war on earmarks, and you want someone MORE fiscally conservative than that?!

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:20 PM"
What do you think of McCain flip-flopping on his "no new taxes" stance?

Posted by: JR | July 29, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It is refreshing to have someone like Obama on the political front who has the native intelligence to discuss the economy in detail with some of the most accomplished leaders in the field. McCain has so far shown himself to be much too addled to speak with clarity on any subject including his favorite topic "The Surge" which he claims to have invented all by himself. The economy is well beyond his capacity to comprehend. After nearly 8 years of reckless and mindless Bushism, the prospect of having another intellectual lightweight like McCain in the White House is chilling to say the least. However, in a country as anti-intellectual as the United States, Obama's brains may in fact be a liability.

Posted by: jefflz | July 29, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama understands the first thing about the economy, the interconnections and resulting cause and affects, or that he even cares because he a socialist in a Democrat costume!

Posted by: theaz | July 29, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

If you tools really think that McCain is really ahead in the polls and has a good chance to win then you should place a bet at intrade, where McCain's future prospect as President is selling at 30c on the dollar.

Triple your money! Didn't think so...

McCain is going to get smoked- and everybody knows it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how the author knows what the candidate is "seeking to demonstrate". What a patronizing attitude. Of course it is not sourced. But how could it be?

Posted by: Chris | July 29, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama is going about his economic policy with the same thoroughness that he did with his foreign trip. He has essentially set the foreign policy agenda for this country and now will do the same things with other policy as well.

Unlike what his opponents would like you to believe Obama is focussed on the policy issues that face this country. Political posturing are at times at the forefront of his attention but demonstrating by policy initiatives that he is fully equipped the office he seeks seems to be most on his mind.

McCain's campaign is focused on belittling Obama and insufficiently involved in that to present comprehensive policies. Whether it is from a lack of ability to do so (which I believe to be the case) or he is too caught up in the minutia of the campaign (which does not sound like the Senator) he does not give us a vision of where he wants to lead the country which is so important in these times.

It is not only in campaigning that Obama seeks to bring organization into focus. He did it with foreign policy and now with the economy and the contrast with John McCain's listless manner and unfocused campaign is startling.

Posted by: Ronnn | July 29, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Jake D,

I figured you'd be tired of arguing your biased lop-sided points about Obama's trip overseas after the 100 or so comment posts you've posted over the last 48 hours so I really didn't want to rehash that whole spin ship. Have fun golfing. Maybe you should considering more golfing between now and election day or, since you're so boastful about your free-time, volunteering at a local vets hospital.

Posted by: Factory Worker, Akron Ohio | July 29, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Factory Worker:

I take it you agree that it was a big mistake for Obama to cancel his trip then? And, I will keep "threading" (although I haven't listened to Rush or Sean's spin at all for a while -- do you know what they are saying -- maybe I will listen tomorrow when I go golfing ; )

As for legitimate security precautions, I understand that Saddleback Church is requiring tickets and the same 2 hour rule before / during the Obama-McCain Civil Forum coming up next month. No problem, in my opinion. You never know when some wacko is going to try to shoot one of them.

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Jake D,

You keep on "threading". There's the facts and then there's Hannity/Limbaugh spin. We all know where and with who you're tailgating. Does little to no good for those of us who actually switch the channel from Fox News every once and while. Good try though.

You at least have that great American Dick Cheney on your side. What a great man he is(since we're talking about snubbing our US Milatary). This from today's front page news:

Cheney's office makes imperial demands of disabled vets group

The vice president's office is denying reports that its draconian security demands prompted the Disabled American Veterans organization to uninvite Vice President Dick Cheney to the group's convention next month in Vegas.

According to the New York Daily News, the vice president's office told planners that the Honorable Dick Cheney requires audiences to sit in place for two hours before his arrival, and they may not leave until after his speech is over. With bathrooms located outside the hall, and with many of its 1.4 million members facing daily health challenges, the organization decided to sack the veep.

"It was a huge imposition on our delegates," DAV official David Autry told the newspaper. To make an 8:30 a.m. speech, he added, the vets would have to get up "at oh-dark-30 and try to get breakfast and showered and get their prosthetics on." Then, with bathrooms located outside the hall, they would have to sit for two hours waiting.

Cheney's office says this is all a big misunderstanding, calling the two-hour rule "a recommendation, not a requirement."

Posted by: Factory Worker, Akron Ohio | July 29, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse


McCain's declared war on earmarks, and you want someone MORE fiscally conservative than that?!

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

nah. he's saying that mccain would be clueless in such a call. i mean, if even in foreign policy, on his trip to israel he couldn't have one on one meetings with the prime minister olmert, without glancing repeatedly towards joe liebermann (obama did, and the prime minister was impressed. i'd give you the link but i don't remember. im sure if you go to, you'll find it). to get back to the point, if he couldn't even perform in his area of expertise, what is he gonna talk about the the fed chairman, or the treasury secretary. folks aren't making up the fact that his area of interest isn't economics, cultural issues, but military power. that's why someone like romney is so important. so, it's not exactly about access. but rather about having intelligent, fruitful conversations that'll lead to good plans to fix this problem. and until he picks romney, i refuse to give him a second look. i mean, im already worried about his abrasive character. im no neocon. im a foreign policy realist much like bush the elder. i'd be willing to give him a pass if he picks romney, or at the very least a fiscal conservative.

Posted by: lupercal | July 29, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse


Betting online is illegal -- careful what you wish for though -- the latest Gallup Poll has McCain ahead of Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Factory Worker, Akron Ohio:

It is not a "lie" to point out that Barack Hussein Obama called off a visit to wounded troops (see threads below).

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes sir...this is want I want to see, hear, and read for the next 3 months from the Obama campaign. No need to over-talk the Iraq War surge and timetable deal. Al-Maliki pretty much threw Bush "under the bus" and left McCain "standing in the rain alone". The majority of Iraqis and the majority of Americans want American troops out of Iraq on some type of timetable.

Obama should encase himself in the US economic policy both from a short-term to a long-term perspective to fix the mess that Bush created. By continuing focusing on the needs of ordinary Americans as related to the economy and healthcare, I will bet anyone on here, Obama's polling numbers increase from week-to-week over McCain = McSame.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | July 29, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Again, this makes McCain look like a wobbly old dolt that has photo-ups in Midwestern grocery stores then snickers when he knows he's lying when he accuses Obama of snubbing our woounded troops in Germany on Larry King.

Obama is a stand-up man and a stand-up candidate. The man knows how he wants to go about initiating the changes he envisions and he is enlisting the non-partisan support and lines of communication he needs to to get this country heading back in the right direction after eight horrible misguided years under Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld and the other McCain GOP Neo-Cons.

Make up your own mind but Obama is looking better and better and ready to serve...

Posted by: Factory Worker, Akron Ohio | July 29, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse


"Whining" is very different from "making the election a referendum on the black guy" ...

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

...meanwhile, McCain is whining about Obama and yelling at a whippersnapper to get off his lawn.

Posted by: sequoia | July 29, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"Access"? He is a (first term) U.S. Senator. Are you saying that McCain cannot get a one-on-one meeting?!

Posted by: JakeD | July 29, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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