The Campaign Spot

Obama: I Still Want to Debate Friday

ABC News:

Obama supporter and chief debate negotiator Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told MSNBC that “we can handle both,” when asked about his reaction to McCain’s call to postpone the first debate because of the administration’s bailout plan.
He believes they are making good progress on Capitol Hill on the bailout and his initial reaction is that the work on the Hill should not preclude the debate from taking place.
An Obama campaign official told ABC News the Democratic presidential candidate called McCain this morning to suggest a joint statement of principles.
McCain called back this afternoon and suggested returning to Washington.
Obama is willing to return to Washington “if it would be helpful.” But reiterated Obama intends to debate on Friday.

I am not certain McCain is right on the politics of this, i.e., whether or not the public will agree with him that this is a good idea. But I think it’s probably right as a matter of policy. There’s still plenty of time to do three presidential and one vice-presidential debate. 
I’m starting to come around to the argument that while there’s plenty to dislike in the Paulson plan, the downside of inaction is very, very dire and the clock is ticking. Many big financial institutions have a big pile of risky mortgages and/or real estate on their books, and they have no idea what it’s worth. With giant question marks on the balance books, they’re afraid to buy, sell, make loans, try to take out loans, etc. This is a giant dead weight on economic activity. Let the Treasury Department buy a couple hundred billion worth, the balance books are greatly clarified, everything goes back to “normal” and these institutions can lend, buy, sell, etc. And the government might make money, or at least not lose tons, once they sell off the lousy real estate they’re buying from lenders.
Jack Welch and Warren Buffett (Obama’s man) are talking “financial Pearl Harbor” if the crisis isn’t addressed. Some of my readers in the financial sector are suggesting that if it appears Congress isn’t going to take action, the markets in the coming weeks will look like all the bad parts of last week — multiple-day losses of hundreds of points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with none of the rebounds that prevented last week from being a disaster. They think the Dow dropping thousands is possible before it hits bottom, and that would end up wiping out trillions of dollars’ worth of wealth of Americans, from the biggest fish to the . Every stock portfolio, every mutual fund, every retirement account, every pension fund investment in the country suddenly plummeting in value. Palin’s assent to Katie Couric’s reference to the Great Depression might be hyperbole, but this would make 1987′s Black Friday look like light gray.
The McCain message ought to be, “My apologies to the folks in Oxford, Mississippi, but the national interest demands that we cut out the standard partisan BS for seventy-two hours, until we get a bill that calms Wall Street signed and can assure American investors that the crisis won’t spiral out of control. Then we can go back to beating each other’s brains in.”
Postpone the debate. Pass the bill. Get the toxic loans out of the system. Save the economy.
UPDATE: Glad to see everyone’s being serious about this.

“What, does McCain think the Senate will still be working at 9 p.m. Friday?” Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said in an interview, referring to the scheduled start time of the debate.

If the markets are in a tailspin that day, yeah, Ed, they will. In fact, if a bill hasn’t gotten through the House and Senate by Thursday night, I’ll bet Obama ends up acquiescing and postponing the debate, too.
By the way, the debate starts at 9 p.m. on a Friday? Who the heck will be watching? Sober, I mean?

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