Parsing the candidates' economic plans

Sen. John McCain, left, and Barack Obama

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal:
With the debate on economic policy set for tomorrow night, this was clearly the week for the two candidates to get their ideas for how to solve this thing out there. Barack Obama went first yesterday. John McCain offered his plan today. From Washington, Marketplace's Steve Henn reports on their differences. Or, should we say similarities.


Steve Henn: John McCain has a long record as a deregulator and critic of the government's backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But today he hit a different note, criticizing Wall Street instead of Washington.

John McCain: No more liabilities concealed form the public and from shareholders. No more bundling of assets to maximize profit by assuming insane risk. Those days are over on Wall Street.

He even backed a more muscular role for regulators.

McCain: We will learn from this crisis to prevent the next one with much stricter oversight.

McCain laid out a $52 billion plan to cut taxes on retirement savings for older Americans, reduce the capital gains tax for two years, and eliminate taxes on unemployment insurance.

If that last idea sounds familiar, there's good reason. Barack Obama suggested it yesterday.

But McCain isn't the only one cribbing ideas from his opponent.

Barack Obama: I want to give credit where credit is due. I welcome Senator McCain's proposal to waive the rules that currently force our seniors to withdraw from their 401k's even when the market is bad.

Obama's own $60-billion rescue plan is also chock full of tax breaks -- including one for companies that create jobs in the U.S. Obama also wants to double the government's guaranteed loans for the auto industry.

While both campaigns continue to try and draw economic distinctions, in reality the candidates' policies are moving closer. Turns out there are no ideologues in a financial crisis.

In Washington I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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