It’s The Economy, Stupid

It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since that phrase was used in a Presidential campaign. Back then, Bill Clinton hammered it into the voters’ heads, costing George H. W. Bush the White House. But today, with the nation on the brink of a recession, the economy is on the minds of many.

John McCain and Barack Obama have put out their own ads to convince voters the other is getting bad advice.

So who’s telling the truth? Here are the facts behind the ads in this week’s Truth Test.

Let’s first look at the Obama ad.

Barack Obama: I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message.

Voice Over: John McCain admits he doesn’t understand the economy.

So who advises him?

Carly Fiorina – the fired C.E.O. who got a $42 million golden parachute.

Phil Gramm – the ex-Senator who pushed through deregulation and called Americans hurt by this economy “whiners.”

Then there’s George Bush whose disastrous policies McCain wants to continue.

They think the economy’s fundamentally strong.

We know they’re fundamentally wrong.

The ad quotes McCain as saying he doesn’t understand the economy. What he actually said was, “Economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” Fine line, but still, if you’re going to quote someone, shouldn’t you get it right (that’s what us media-types are accused of doing all the time – fair or not)?

Now to those “advisers.” The ad quotes this New York Times story, which details Carly Fiorina’s troubles at Hewlett-Packard. By troubles, you should know I mean made more than $21 million dollars when she was forced to resign because she could not reverse the company’s bottom line. You can read more about their political relationship here. To be fair, McCain’s camp benched Fiorina after she said just a few weeks ago that neither McCain nor his running mate could run a corporation like HP. Is she really the right person to make statements like that? Perhaps that’s why she’s behind the scenes now.

Phil Gramm and McCain go way back (do you remember when Gramm ran for President in 1996? McCain was the campaign chairman). The ad quotes Gramm in a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial for his role in deregulation. And that “whiner” statement is attributed to this Washington Times story.  On Monday, NPR called Gramm McCain’s Henry Paulson. I’m not sure most want that title. NPR also put the president of the New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner, as a potential Treasury Secretary in an Obama administration.

I couldn’t find the Associated Press story quoted in the Bush statement, but Obama has made those remarks plenty of times during the campaign.

Then, there’s McCain’s response.

John McCain: I’m John McCain and I approve this message.

Voice Over: Obama has no background in economics.

Who advises him?

The Post says it’s Franklin Raines for advice on mortgage and housing policy.


Under Raines, Fannie Mae committed extensive financial fraud.

Raines made millions.

Fannie Mae collapsed.

Taxpayers stuck with the bill.

Barack Obama.

Bad advice.

Bad instincts.

Not ready to lead.

That Washington Post quote says Raines has received calls from Obama’s camp “seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.” That seems like a stretch, especially when you consider the McCain advisers (who have actually campaigned for the Republican candidate). Even The Washington Post questions the claims in this ad (and it was their business reporter who obtained the quote cited in the ad). The rest of the statements in the ad dealing with Raines profiting from Fannie Mae are true.

It’s clear both candidates need to surround themselves with people who are better prepared to shape the economic policies in the future, not rehash the policies that put us in this financial bind we face today.

There’s one more part of our Tuesday Truth Test this week. It deals with the following email making the rounds:

Subject: Biden stepping down
Let me share some info with you that I have gotten from excellent sources within the DNC:
On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary. This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2.
There have been talks all weekend about how to proceed with this info. generally, the feeling is that we should all go ahead and get it out there to as many blog sites and personal email lists as is possible. I have already seen a few short blurbs about this – the “health problem” cited in those articles was aneurysm. Probably many of you have heard the same rumblings.
However, at this point, with this inside info from the DNC, it looks like this Obama strategy will be a go. Therefore, it seems that the best strategy is to get out in front of this Obama maneuver, spell it out in detail, and thereby expose it for the grand manipulation that it is.
So, let’s start mixing this one up and cut the Obamites off at the pass – send this info out to as many people as you can – post about it on websites and blogs – etc etc
This one’s hard to bust, but there are some clues that it’s just meant to spread rumor. The biggest one is the following statement “we should all go ahead and get it out there to as many blog sites and personal email lists as is possible.” Readers, that’s the number one clue the email you’re reading is not legitimate. It could be true, but this is something that only time will tell. By the way, the same rumor (naming VP Dick Cheney) circulated in the 2000 Election.
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