As Prepared for Delivery
Charlotte, North Carolina
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The news of the day isn't good.
The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a perilous moment. They said they wanted to let the market run free but instead they let it run wild. And now we are facing a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression
But here's the truth:
Regardless of how we got here, we're here today. And the circumstances we face require decisive action because your jobs, your savings, and your economic security are now at risk.
We must work quickly in a bipartisan fashion to resolve this crisis to avert an even broader economic catastrophe. But Washington also has to recognize that economic recovery requires that we act, not just to address the crisis on Wall Street, but also the crisis on Main Street and around kitchen tables across America.
As of now, the Bush Administration has only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan. Even if the U.S. Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects the basic principles of transparency, fairness, and reform.
First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.
Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.
Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.
Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.
Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.
And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street. We have to come together, as Democrats and Republicans, to pass a stimulus plan that will put money in the pockets of working families, save jobs, and prevent painful budget cuts and tax hikes in our states.
So I know these are difficult days. But here's what I also know. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. That's who we are. That's what we've always done as Americans. Our nation has faced difficult times before. And at each of those moments, we've risen to meet the challenge because we've never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here in America, our destiny is not written for us; it's written by us.
But another thing I know is this – we can't steer ourselves out of this crisis by heading in the same, disastrous direction. And that's what this election is all about.
Because while I certainly don't fault Senator McCain for all of the problems we're facing right now, I do fault the economic philosophy he's followed during his 26 years in Washington. It's a philosophy that says it's ok to turn a blind eye to practices that reward financial manipulation instead of sound business decisions. It's a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise. It's a philosophy that lets Washington lobbyists shred consumer protections and distort our economy so it works for the special interests instead of working people and our country.
We're now seeing the disastrous consequences of this philosophy all around us – on Wall Street as well as Main Street. And yet Senator McCain, who candidly admitted not long ago that he doesn't know as much about economics as he should, wants to keep going down the same, disastrous path.
He calls himself "fundamentally a deregulator," when reckless deregulation and lack of oversight is a big part of the problem.
And here's the really scary part. Now this "Great Deregulator" wants to turn his attention to health care.
He wrote in the current issue of a magazine – the current issue – that we need to open up health care to – quote – "more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking."
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