After pretty much ignoring the John McCain presidential campaign (except when he makes a "gaffe" like saying Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq), the Times off-leads Wednesday with McCain's striking hands-off approach to the current U.S. mortgage "crisis." Larry Rohter and Edmund Andrews' story "Unlike Rivals, McCain Rejects Broad U.S. Aid on Mortgages," also featured negative comments from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and a Democratic linked economist. No one was interviewed in support of McCain's approach.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton's speech on the same topic, in which she called for a wide bailout, was treated less cynically and more favorably in yesterday's edition, ina story featuring no opposition from Republicans or economists.
From the middle of Wednesday's front-page story:
Mr. McCain appeared to be trying to confront questions about his dexterity in dealing with the economy, a subject that he has admitted is not his strongest suit. But his remarks drew a quick, pointed rebuke from Mrs. Clinton, who criticized Mr. McCain's hands-off, market-oriented approach, saying it would lead to "a downward spiral that would cause tremendous economic pain and loss" for Americans.
"It sounds remarkably like Herbert Hoover, and I don't think that's good economic policy," Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Greensburg, Pa. "The government has a number of tools at its disposal. I think that inaction has contributed to the problems we face today, and I believe further inaction would exacerbate those problems."
In addition to urging $30 billion in federal aid to states to help homeowners, Mrs. Clinton on Monday also endorsed federal legislation to expand the government's ability to guarantee restructured mortgages, which she believes would lead more banks and other private entities to buy and resell mortgages.
Mr. Obama's plan emphasizes making it easier to convert subprime loans to fixed-rate, 30-year loans, while requiring that borrowers have access to better data on loan costs and requiring greater scrutiny of lenders. On Tuesday, he said, "It's deeply troubling that John McCain is suggesting that the best way to address the housing crisis is to sit back and watch it happen."
Overall, the approach Mr. McCain suggested is even more cautious about federal intervention than that of President Bush. The Bush administration is looking to lower down payment requirements, at least temporarily. Mr. McCain said that he opposed reducing the down payment required for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, a step meant to revitalize slumping housing sales.
The Times is clearly in favor of the Democratic plans for vast government intervention and wide mortgage bailouts, strongly hinting in a December 2007 news story that Bush's government intervention didn't go far enough.
Intoday's story, the Times made sure to get an opposing view from a Democratic economist:
His approach drew a rebuke from economic policy experts aligned with Democrats.
"He's not only far behind what either Clinton or Obama have proposed, he's six months behind what the administration has already been doing," said Andrew Jakabovics, associate director for the Economic Mobility Program at the Center for American Progress, a Democrat-leaning research group in Washington. Mr. Jakabovics was an early champion of programs like those now being discussed by Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, to have the government either buy up or refinance millions of troubled loans.