Obama Picks Up Phone on Economy

ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Since yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama has spoken on the phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Ralph Emmanuel, former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton about the economic situation and the plan for dealing with it.

Spokesperson Linda Douglass says that the conversations were about devising a "quick, bipartisan solution" to the economic crisis and they touched on the principles that Obama laid out in a speech in Charlotte, N.C., today.

"As of now, the Bush administration has only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan," Obama said. "Even if the U.S. Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects the basic principles of transparency, and fairness, and reform. We can’t allow this to happen again. They have run this government, they have run this economy into the ground. We’ve got to make sure that we lift if back up, but we’ve got to have some rules in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Obama set out seven principles (several of which he has regularly mentioned on the campaign trail) for what he would like to see included in the government's bailout plan.

    • No blank check. If we grant the Treasury broad authority to address the immediate crisis, we must insist on independent accountability and oversight. Given the breach of trust we have seen and the magnitude of the taxpayer money involved, there can be no blank check.
    • Rescue requires mutual responsibility. As taxpayers are asked to take extraordinary steps to protect our financial system, it is only appropriate to expect those institutions that benefit to help protect American homeowners and the American economy. We cannot underwrite continued irresponsibility, where CEOs cash in and our regulators look the other way. We cannot abet and reward the unconscionable practices that triggered this crisis. We have to end them.
    • Taxpayers should be protected. This should not be a handout to Wall Street. It should be structured in a way that maximizes the ability of taxpayers to recoup their investment. Going forward, we need to make sure that the institutions that benefit from financial insurance also bear the cost of that insurance.
    • Help homeowners stay in their homes. This crisis started with homeowners and they bear the brunt of the nearly unprecedented collapse in housing prices. We cannot have a plan for Wall Street banks that does not help homeowners stay in their homes and help distressed communities.
    • A global response. As I said on Friday, this is a global financial crisis and it requires a global solution. The United States must lead, but we must also insist that other nations, who have a huge stake in the outcome, join us in helping to secure the financial markets.
    • Main Street, not just Wall Street. The American people need to know that we feel as great a sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as we do the emergency on Wall Street. That is why I call on Senator McCain, President Bush, Republicans and Democrats to join me in supporting an emergency economic plan for working families – a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, save one million jobs through rebuilding our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, help homeowners stay in their homes, and provide retooling assistance to help ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built in America.
    • Build a regulatory structure for the 21st Century. While there is not time in a week to remake our regulatory structure to prevent abuses in the future, we should commit ourselves to the kind of reforms I have been advocating for several years. We need new rules of the road for the 21st Century economy, together with the means and willingness to enforce them.
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