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Obama on AIG: Crony Capitalism Pain is Trickling Up

Sen. Barack Obama spoke out on the $85 billion the government has agreed to loan to AIG on Wednesday morning, blasting the news in unusually blistering terms as the “final verdict” on a Republican “economic philosophy” that screwed American workers and fostered “crony capitalism”:

The fact that we have reached a point where the Federal Reserve felt it had to take this unprecedented step with the American Insurance Group is the final verdict on the failed economic philosophy of the last eight years… the Fed must ensure that the plan protects the families that count on insurance. It should bolster our economy’s ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills and save their money. It must not bail out the shareholders or management of AIG. This crisis serves as a stark reminder of the failures of crony capitalism and an economic philosophy that sees any regulation at all as unwise and unnecessary. 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; a philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to the rest. Instead, the pain has trickled up – from the struggles of Main Street all the way up to the crises on Wall Street. (emphasis added)

Obama also laid part of the blame on Sen. John McCain:

Despite his eleventh hour conversion to the language of reform, Senator McCain has subscribed to this philosophy for twenty-six years in Washington and the events of this week have rendered it a colossal failure. It is time for a new economic strategy, guided by the principle that America prospers when all Americans prosper, where common-sense rules of the road ensure that competition is fair, open, and honest. That is the strategy I will pursue as President, and I will bring the change we need to restore confidence in our financial markets and strength to our economy.

The only thing missing was a Keating Five reference. This financial crisis is a personal disaster for millions of Americans, of course, so there is a balance to demanding accountability — for the politicians, regulators and leaders who got us here — without weaponizing the tragedies for political gain.

No surprise, Obama is striking that balance quite well. He is focusing on McCain’s policy failures and politically convenient conversions — the Republican nominee has even been talking up regulation this week — while reaffirming the now-popular Democratic policy of stricter financial regulation to protect the little guy.

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