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Hillary Clinton carefully endorses bailout plan, likes Bloomberg as overseer

September 22, 2008 |  3:26 pm

Sen. Hillary Clinton -- remember her, the spouse of the ex-president who hasn't yet been able to squeeze into his impossible schedule any campaigning for the other senator who beat her in the Democratic primary season? -- offers a guarded endorsement today of the Treasury Department's plan to purchase as much as $700 billion in bad mortgage-related debt from banks and other financial institutions.

Everybody's being understandably very careful in this heated political season when anything and everything is recorded and can be taken out of context and used against you quite quickly.

In a chat today with Fox Business Network's Liz Claman, Clinton also offered a candidate for overseer of the bailout: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Funny, Sen. John McCain has previously mentioned the very same billionaire as part of a possible oversight panel for the financial rescue plan that's even larger than Barack Obama's August haul of campaign money.

"I am generally supportive of the Treasury proposal," Clinton told Claiman.

"However, I believe there needs to be accountability and oversight and some authority for mortgage modification or we're not going to get to the root of what is going on because this is a collapsed housing bubble that has rippled through the financial world. But it is at root an economic challenge, which we will meet."

Clinton said she had spoken with Obama about the bailout, with the freshman Illinois senator taking a more guarded approach and also suggesting that an overseer will be needed -- perhaps handing President Bush's Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, a role in the transition to a new administration.

Obama "understands the gravity of the situation we're facing," Clinton said. "He's working with a number of very knowledgeable experts to be sure that he's kept fully apprised of all of these changes that are going on in the negotiations. So I'm confident he's on top of this."

On the question of the government assuming the toxic assets of the mortgage world: "In a perfect world, that might not be the case, but we don't live in a perfect world," Clinton said. "We live right now in a world that is fraught with psychological feelings that may or may not be reality-based.... We need to stabilize it and that is exactly what Secretary Paulson is proposing....

"The net result will be that for a short period of time, which is what I prefer, the Treasury will be in charge, but we've got a transition coming. People are coming in and out of the government. That is why I'm so much in favor of creating an entity where we can house this. So it's not the Treasury day to day, but it's people who are immersed in it. Some people have suggested that Mike Bloomberg take that over. I think that'd be a great choice. There are other great choices."

Another choice as overseer, for instance, might be our billionaire blogging buddy Mark Silva over at the Swamp. He has more on this story here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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