McCain: Bailout CEOs Should Get Pay Cuts
The Post's Michael D. Shear reports that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declared himself "deeply uncomfortable" with President Bush's proposal to rescue the economy and said it must include an oversight board to ensure accountability of the $700 billion in government money.
"I am greatly concerned that the plan gives a single individual the unprecedented power to spend $1 trillion -- trillion -- dollars without any meaningful accountability," he said in prepared remarks at a rally in Scranton, Pa. "Never before in the history of our nation has so much power and money been concentrated in the hands of one person," McCain said, referring to Treasury secretary Henry Paulson.
The manager for McCain' s presidential campaign, Rick Davis, later said that his candidate has laid down "a number of markers," including a demand that executives of the firms receiving the bailout not receive more in compensation than the most highly-paid government worker.
But senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt declined to say whether the senator would vote to block passage of Bush's financial rescue package if his changes are not incorporated into a final bill during the next several days.
"It's a hypothetical question based on a package that doesn't yet exist," Schmidt said.
At the Pennsylvania rally, McCain declared that, "We will not solve a problem caused by poor oversight with a plan that has no oversight."
Bush and his economic team are urging lawmakers not to seek major changes to the rescue plan that the president fears could hold up its passage.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said today that the plan that emerges from negotiations on Capitol Hill must meet certain standards, sounding many of the same themes as McCain.
"We need a plan that helps families stay in their homes, and workers keep their jobs; a plan that gives hardworking Americans relief instead of using taxpayer dollars to reward CEOs on Wall Street," Obama said in prepared remarks. "And we cannot give a blank check to Washington with no oversight and accountability when no oversight and accountability is what got us into this mess in the first place."
But McCain's position as the GOP standard-bearer in the presidential election gives his words special weight as his fellow Republican president seeks quick approval of the bailout plan in the coming days.
The senator also has a history of bucking Bush on major legislation, including bills on torture of terrorists, the selection of judges and campaign finance reform.
Aides said McCain is in "hourly" contact with colleagues on the Hill about the bailout bill, but they declined to say with whom.
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