Make us your home page
Instagram

Column: Which candidate do you want minding the economy?

It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world……

That recent advertisement by Sen. Hillary Clinton was designed to reassure the public that Clinton was more seasoned to handle a sudden military threat than younger Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama.

Maybe the ad should really be asking: Which of the three likely presidential candidates — Clinton, Obama or Republican Sen. John McCain — is best prepared to handle that 3 a.m. call for an economic crisis?

Because we seem to be slip-sliding toward one, given the Bear Stearns collapse, Federal Reserve emergency bailout of Wall Street, super-weak U.S. dollar, oil prices stuck over $100, gas prices heading to $4 per gallon, a weakening job market, an astonishing federal deficit, a high-priced Middle East military commitment, escalating home foreclosures, along with rising food prices, energy bills and educational and health expenses.

Let's not forget consumer confidence. It fell to a five-year low in March, prompting Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg to suggest "consumers are on the verge of the worst downturn since the 1970s."

So John, Hillary and Barack …it's 2:59 a.m. and that phone may soon be ringing for you to help us all through a tough economy. Got any inspired ideas?

McCain gets pummeled unfairly for his "I don't know much about economics" remark. More disturbing is McCain's recent inconsistency, first by embracing a hands-off government from business and saying homeowners facing foreclosure have themselves to blame. Later, he tells another audience he'd help troubled homeowners and reduce regulations to kickstart lending again.

He's the least articulate on how to minimize the nation's pain and time spent in an economic downturn.

Clinton would freeze foreclosures for three months and any interest-rate resets on adjustable-rate mortgages, and let the Federal Housing Administration buy the houses of people whose mortgages are bigger than the value of their homes. That's all inviting to those who are struggling, and clearly buys some time, but it sure is thin on more substantive fixes.

Obama may simply have better financial advisers because his recent recommendations — while hardly startling — possess a more practical streak. He recommends beefing up the power of the Federal Reserve, establishing a "financial market oversight commission" to get a better grip on Wall Street risks, committing $40-billion to aid troubled borrowers and ending income taxes for retirees making less than $50,000.

Paul Volcker — the 6-foot-7 former Federal Reserve chairman — is someone I watched first hand in Washington in the late '70s and early 1980s as he wrestled (and beat) the highest U.S. inflation rates in generations. He's backing Obama, not simply for his proposed solutions to our economic woes but because Volcker sees in him the potential to restore at least some sorely needed faith in government, especially among young people.

That's one vote for rising confidence and for things to come well beyond our financial malaise.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com or

(727) 893-8405.

Column: Which candidate do you want minding the economy? 03/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 10:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  4. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]