Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama opens the door to the Keating Five

Barack Obama continued to hammer John McCain for his assertion that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" today in Colorado, but beyond that he also went somewhere he has not yet gone with McCain...the Savings and Loan scandals of the 1980s. Here is the part of Obama's speech that is gaining the most attention:

Yesterday, Wall Street suffered its worst losses since just after 9/11. We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations. Yet Senator McCain stood up yesterday and said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

A few hours later, his campaign sent him back out to clean up his remarks, and he tried to explain himself again this morning by saying that what he meant was that American workers are strong. But we know that Senator McCain meant what he said the first time, because he has said it over and over again throughout this campaign -- no fewer than 16 times, according to one independent count.
But later on, Obama tied the current crisis to the policies of the 1980s:
It happened in the 1980s, when we loosened restrictions on Savings and Loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules. Too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate. Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. Sound familiar?
Although he doesn't mention McCain explicitly, I don't think it's any accident that he is referencing the major scandal in McCain's Washington life. Will the press pick up on it and bring the issue to the forefront? Is it a signal to Obama's supporters and the 527s that the Keating Five is on the table?

I hope so.

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