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Obama votes 'present' on new economic rescue plan for now

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Sen. Barack Obama today met with some of his many economic advisors and made an announcement that he was not going to make an announcement about any new plan to plan plans.

Obama did suggest a bipartisan effort to deal with the financial crisis wreaking havoc on Wall Street, always a good idea for any candidate after the primaries because it sounds good and costs nothing.

But Obama did not present any detailed proposal of his own for how to resolve the monetary situation that has roiled world markets in recent days.

Obama's inaction prompted Jay Leno in his opening monologue tonight on "The Tonight Show" to point out an essential presidential campaign unfairness, that Obama has criticized McCain's economic plan but the Republican can't respond because "nobody knows" what Obama's is yet.

After meeting with his top economic advisers, the Democratic presidential candidate said this was not the time to present specific details for how to fix the immediate problem, a reversal from what he had said a day earlier. Nor did he explain when a good time would be to explain such a rescue from the current financial crisis.

"Given the gravity of this situation," Obama said with gravity, "based on conversations I've had with both Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke, I will refrain from presenting a ...

... more detailed blueprint about how an immediate plan might be structured until I can fully review details of the plan proposed by the Treasury and Federal Reserve."

Obama added: "I think it's critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling."

The Illinois senator said the crisis has "not just threatened trading floors and high-rises on Wall Street, but the stability and security of our entire global economy."

Obama said the Treasury and Federal Reserve need "as broad authority as is necessary" to stabilize markets and to maintain credit. But he did not detail how broad or what authority.

"I fully support the efforts of Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to work in a bipartisan spirit with Congress to find a solution," the freshman Illinois senator said.

As he prepared to appear at a campaign rally in Florida, Obama called on his Republican rival, John McCain, to join him in trying to find solutions now.

The McCain campaign didn't solve the financial crisis either today, but did suggest that Obama's non-plan announcement was like him voting "present" so many times in the Illinois state Senate.

Our blogging buddy John McCormick has more on this non-announcement over at the Swamp. But McCormick doesn 't have a rescue plan either.

— Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (62)

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I've been trying to tell the rest of America for weeks now that Obama votes PRESENT on every controversial bill that crosses his desk. I'm not making this up.

Most of the people in Illinois don't know what Obama stands for - and he represents us! How can people in other States claim to know what he stands for?

Imagine that, actually taking time to read and understand the plans of the treasury before making any rush to judgment or rash decision. You talk like John McCain has a clue. Republicans want to bail out the capitalists. Obama wants a bailout the homeowners. With a trillion dollars bailout, so $200 billion will go to help homeowners. John Bush/McCain/Palin will do everything they can to not help homeowners and that is why we are in this mess. If the Republicans would have rescued homeowners 6 months ago as Obama wanted, this whole mess would have been avoided.

Your redundancy is redundant.

Poor guy, he is so busy that he just hasn't had a chance to get Hillary Clinton's economic rescue plan transferred to his TelePrompter.

"Obama votes 'Present' on new economic rescue plan for now"

This title really gave me a chuckle by the way!

What a sad commentary from what was once great newspaper. My condolences to those journalists still on staff.

It's an even greater shame that such drivel may accurately reflect the level of political intelligence and discussion in the United States.

The title of this article is also misleading.

In the vein of my internet roots.


(Learn to Report)


Many calculations, you win. (Sun Zu), Obama is smart enough not to make a knee jerk reaction. Many Calculations, You win. (Sun Zu). McCain has experienced tuff decisions. He has made many calculations. I am fifty years old. For the sake of experience I will go with McCain. If I was a young man I would most likely go for Obama. I would distrust the old ways. I don’t think they made enough calculations.

C'mon, now, give the man a break.

Its above his pay grade!

Translation: "I am clueless and my advisors are clueless. We have to determine what our exposure is before we say anything because lately everything we say has been shoved back down our throats. Mt Fannie me and Freddie mac money is looking a little lame right now and Johnson and Raines are not exactly assets to my campaign. My lack of a record in the Senate for reform is also looking a little shaky so I'll get back to you after I have done some serious triangulating"

Unless you are a moron, you know exactly what Obama said. He said it would be reckless to present a plan right now when CONGRES and the ADMIISTRATION are working on a package right now. In other words, no need to score political points. And if its about the bailout, can you tell me hat McCain's plan is? Creating a trust corporation? that was Vockers idea, who is Obama's adviser. The LA Times needs to actually start reading and paying attention and not being shills for the McSame campaign.

You know, Mr. Malcolm, you're so right to mock Sen. Obama for this. It reminds me of this time when I was on a ship that crashed into an iceberg. Well, the captain was aboard, of course. Luckily, there were also two other guys aboard who were vying to replace the captain.

The captain and his crew ordered all the passengers into the lifeboats. But as the passengers started to file toward the lifeboats, one of the wannabe captains asked everyone to stop and consider a brief Powerpoint presentation detailing his post-iceberg plan. He made some good points. Our opinions and the ship itself seemed to tilt as one. Then the other wannabe captain handed out some very informative brochures on his own plan.

The debate was intense. Vibrant, really. But I couldn't even hear myself think. I retired to the quiet of one of the lifeboats and lowered it into the waves where I could be by myself. Minutes later, as the ship capsized, I found myself wondering which of the three plans everyone had finally settled on.

There are times, Mr. Malcolm, when presidential candidates can make themselves most useful by staying out of the way. Presidential candidates should not offer their individual minutely detailed plans for deploying FEMA personnel when a hurricane is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. If Iraq suddenly devolves into the equivalent of the Tet Offensive, I don't want to see an Obama plan and a McCain plan for where individual platoons should be moving. And at this moment where swift action may be the difference between banks failing and markets diving, I don't want federal action to be slowed because every pol in Washington is obsessing over how supporting this plan or that plan will influence the presidential race.

This is a measured response and indicative of the process by which Senator Obama works on issues. Obama met with economic experts including Warren Buffett via conference call, in order to more firmly understand the situation. This issue is deep and complex and will require a more nuanced and complicated set of actions in order to actually solve, so it is no surprise that he has not yet released his plan. What is shocking and disturbing is that McCain has once again thrown out a plan that may or may not have any chance of solving the problem when only three days ago he exhibited very little understanding of the dire nature of our country's economic condition. Senator Obama has been giving speeches and submitting economic plans for the last year which were aimed to help avoid this exact problem. Now, the solution is to fix the problem but as he said, "This is not something that will be fixed overnight."

Kind of amazing, what a non-story this is.
Obama's doing the prudent thing, waiting for details to come out, before deciding if it's good, bad, or needs tweaking.

But, I guess you guys are looking for any way, to stop Obama's current momentum.
Don't worry, more McCain lies will be coming out, that you'll be able to harp as true.

If anybody watched that "Band of Brothers" series on HBO, they'll remember the pompous, overeducated Lt. Norman Dike. He was the seemingly impressive officer who, it soon became clear, was incapable of making a decision on, or off, the battlefield. I hardly need mention that, in the end, Dike cracked under the pressure of combat during the Battle of the Bulge and was quickly transferred out of Easy Company.

Barack Obama is the "Norman Dike" of politics today. He looks impressive, but can't make a decision--good or bad--to save his life...or our lives.

Giving 1 trillion of tax payer money to companies that underwrote bad loans for profits is the heaviest taxation in history and it is corrupt!

saying obama voting present 2% while mccain voted present 14% ?

yeah really fair comparison!

Why is your paper so republican?
Feel free to join modern times.

I am shocked -- shocked! -- that a candidate for President, facing a potential economic catastrophe of unknown dimensions and details, has decided to wait to hear what the experts who have the actual data propose tio do before flapping his jaws about the situation to gain a temporary political advantage.

Naturally, Senator McLoudmouth displayed no such restraint: he is always ready with an opinion: sometimes two opposite opinions on the same day.

Reading today's blithering nonsense from McCain, in which he demonstrates not only that he doesn't know what a central bank does but also that he doesn't know what it means to have a strong currency, I am reminded of Poor Richard's adage that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Oh, and in case you missed it, McCain also has a solution to the health care problem: making health care more like banking. No, seriously.

"Trust me, I have a plan that we just planned the other day and this plan is extremely solid! However I don't know if the plan is good enough for the American public to know but the plan is good! Trust me, you'll love the plan. Also we're planning next week to plan more plans to finetune the plan so that everyone can benefit from the plan. I call it the No Persons Left Behind Plan!"

Was the teleprompter down?

So basically what he's saying is: Whatever plan John McCain comes up with, I'll claim as my own and pretend that I fixed the economy single-handed."

I say let's just ask him what his (Obama's) plan is and refuse to move on until he gives a definitive answer.

Also... I thought it was funny how this is an "immediate" problem, yet he thinks we should wait on finding an answer.

Wow... there's some cool double-think for ya!

What a misleading headline for this non-story.

It looked like Obama had actually voted present on some legislation - that, of course, is not what happened - just what the headline says.

The story itself is just a bunch of worthless sarcasm.

Did you want Obama to rush in with some specific plan while this is happening? Does it show some lack of leadership that he does not?

How ridiculous.

Anyone with half a brain realizes this is pretty darn serious and needs some calm reflection and not knee jerk nonsense.

Of course, my newspaper ought to help figure this stuff out instead of wasting my time on nothing...but, hey, the LA Times keeps firing good investigative reporters so why not print this tripe instead?

Obama gave very clear guiding principle that gave tremendous insight into his thinking.

In short, Obama did the right thing.

You don't concoct a rescue plan in a few hours and start spouting off, possibly interfering with the important work being done at a time of crisis. McCain on the other hand is talking about starting commissions, firing the head of SEC (which the president can't do; and besides the Cox isn't responsible for this, he's merely carried out Republican principles and Bush policies, aka McCain policies).

So, in the end, a lame blog post. Expecting him to give a detailed proposal on this is nonsense.

What's occurred is that McCain has panicked, leaping to the right, then the left, then the right again. He's against, then for, then against. Obama has a list of financial policies posted on his web site for months. I think it was great that he took a statesman approach and didn't jump all over it. Truth is, McCain's suggstions don't even go as deep as Obama's existing policies.

Also, Mr. Malcom needs to do his homework a bit better instead of repeating extremist radio talk show hosts. The vote "present" was a means of expressing dicontent with the choices given. He wasn't the only one.

Finally, you fail to mention - McCain/Palin wanted us to put our social security into Wall Street. How smart of an idea was that? Maybe they should have thought longer about it.

I would vote for Obama but I can't afford Obama! I can't afford what he is gonna do to the economy and his foreign policy!

President Obama did the right thing by respecting Paulson and Congress working this out. McSame has nothing to add except lies and deceptions. Jay Leno is a loser that's why they are not renewing his contract.

I am too patriotic and love my country to put it in Obama's hands of inexperience!

Obama didn't vote present. He gave a thoughful anlaysis demonstrating an in depth understanding of the economic issues and the many elements of the situation that any solution must encompass. Problem is, he talks as though people are bright enough to comprehend what he has to say and he gets criticized for not putting forth a one or two paragraph masquerading as a simple solutions to very complicated issues.

Wait, Obama, over the last 24 hours, hasn't come up with a plan to fix the financial ruin that 8 years of Republican rule have brought us? Geez, Obama, just vote present why dontcha?

Your rhetorical exaggerations, btw, Malcolm, (plan to plan plans) belie your desperation. Yes, the people you were a spokesman for brought this on... and Obama hasn't fixed it yet? Wow!

Sarah Palin says earmark,
Barack Obama says it's a present,
Lets call the whole thing off,
and select Hillary Clinton.

Obama had more than 4,000 votes in the Illinois Senate. He voted present on 129 of them. "Present" votes are common in Illinois, sometimes he did it in concert with fellow Democrats as part of a strategy, sometimes b/c he agreed with parts of a bill and not others and took the time to make arguments for changes, etc etc ... He's a principled guy. He is intelligent. He sees some gray in the neocons black and white (mostly white).

Here's a Boston Globe factcheck on the topic:

Obama has been steady in all of his positions. On NAFTA, he's for keeping it but fixing it so it doesn't screw over so many of our workers. ... McCain supporters HAVE NO CLUE about where he's coming from. He's panicking. He's all over the map.

"I'm a deregulator!!!" .. "No, wait, I'm a regulator and a reformer!!!"

Oh and here's is latest eureka moment Let's fix health care by ..... yes, you guessed -- deregulating it!!!!! Worse yet, he cites the deregulation of the banking industry as a "great model!!!!!""

Nuance? OMG - Ob_ma, may his name be praised, is starting to look like Kerry-lite. Same BS, half the calories.

Just out of curiosity (see IndependentForObama above), how do you rescue a homeowner? Or more relevantly, how would Obama rescue a homeowner?

I don't want to hear the next President of the United States say, "This is a problem that can't be fixed overnight." I want to hear him say, "This is a problem that the federal government has no legitimate interest in." Fat chance!

If it were up to me, I would listen to Mr. Two-middle-initial's "experts", then do the exact opposite of what they recommend.

As several commenters have noted, the housing "crisis" has been going on for quite a while, at least 2 years I'd say, since it was one of the issues in the 2006 election. So doesn't this allow enough time for a Presidential candidate to at least form a preliminary opinion? So the question is, why doesn't Obama tell us what his thoughts are? Is it possible that he doesn't want to tell us, because we would all be horrified if we heard them? (As I understand it, McCain has expressed his views, so the above comment does not apply to him.)

Mayor of Hollywood. Sure.
President of the United States?

Once McCain is elected, I intend to seek an apology from every Obama supporter I know for subjecting this society and civilization to the risk of their recklessness.

Obama added: "I think it's critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling."

Dear Mr. Malcom-- Are you not even aware of what you supposedly are writing? Or perhaps you too, are losing your marbles? What does "their work should be unimpeded by partisan wrangling" mean to you? DUH!

Obama can't reach Raines and Johnson on the phone yet - please stand by for leadership. LOL.

Give Obama a couple of days, and then he will deliver a plan that will look remarkablly like McCain's plan. The media will coo and fawn and call him brilliant!

Why do you libs always blame President G. W. Bush when it was the dems who blocked his efforts to provide oversight for what are now major financial institutions and the economy in general.

President Bush never hesitated a moment to make a decision and look where we are now. You can't blame the last 2 years of Democratic Congress/Senate for what took 8 years to create. If you say otherwise, then you can blame Bush and the Republican Congress for 9/11, since they were both in power at that time.

McCain will make the same impulsive decisions that Bush made, and we will suffer.

This crisis is stock market is serious. Obama and McCain must take care. Any strong statements are not in best interests of Americans. Both candidate must be quiet on this. Whole American Financial system is ready to crumble. I have had it with Republican support on deregulation though!!! And John McCain for 30+ years supported deregulation. Wanted national health care and social security to be in same deregulated system as corporations that are failing now!! I will never vote For McCain - Palin(ongoing legislative investigation accused of abuse of power as governor- appears to be total cover-up)!! I look at Palin's investigation and then remember John McCain and his clever way to escape prosecution -testify against the other four senators- McCain is one of Keating Five - one of largest Sav
ings and Loan Scandals in US history. John McCain was very close friends with Keating. These two are not good for America!! Republicans have put America in a disaster!!! As a nation we are falling apart!!

Before "selected" officials of Florida facilitated BushCo's coup d'etat in 2000, elections appeared less obviously rigged. Now, a politician who actually takes time to think is mischaracterized as "paralyzed" -- because the glib punchlines delivered by the GOP back NeoConNazis like Palin and now McCain pass for thinking these days. What a joke, if the US electorate is so stupid as to vote for Nazis three terms in a row!

How irresponsible of the LA Times to repeat a McCain mantra about this voting "present" thing, and in a headline, no less. But it no longer matters. John McCain went way over the line today with his ad linking Fannie Mae CEO Raines to Obama's campaign. All bets are off. I really did not believe that Republicans would go THIS far with lies right and left about everything. I actually had some bit of hope and respect left for them. NO MORE. Although Obama has far too much class to stoop to such blatant lies, he doesn't have to. KARMA is a bitch. The lies won't sink Obama, but the truth WILL SINK McCain. Like the truth about all those dead Iraqi men women and children - and the truth about our dead American soldiers, and the truth about Katrina, and the truth about Republican corruption, Larry Craid, Tom DeLay, Enron, etc., etc., etc. I sincerely hope that McCain not only gets trounced in the election, but that he and his whole party pack up and move to Hooterville, and stay there with their dead moose, blood money and rapist children. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

It is misleading to say Obama voted present. This is only true because he could have voted present, but chose to not vote at all.

For a year now he has said he will fix a mess, but not explained how. He said he will raise taxes on the rich, but over 200,000 people he expected to heavily tax lost jobs this month alone. I wonder if he will ever address that flaw. I doubt it.

Leaders make tough decisions. Ivory tower egg-heads ponder issues. Obama is no leader, which is why he has cannot make a decision.

Sadly, McCain doesn't seem like a leader either. These two options both stink. Oh, wait, the two options usually do stink. Do you recall the dud that lost to the imbecile 4 years ago?


As to your comment:

"The one thing I trust about McCain and that moose-killer is that they will draft your children to support their proxy war murdering blood lust. They're the epitome of everything that the founding fathers fought against when American was born. They are redcoats in moose-clothing and they are will sell out America to the highest bidder and then pay for everything with the severed heads of your children served to you on a platter of Arabian oil. They have no real love of America, no real understanding of the good people that live in the cities that made America great. They are the bastard-children of the oil barons and successionist mindset, determined to destroy America through fear-mongering and war-mongering, and thanks to the Internet they will be exposed and drummed out of civilized society forever."

My response:

Well, maybe a "tad" over the top, but at least you didn't call for their imprisonment, torture and execution, a merciful gesture on your part that the Republicans themselves had no compunction about dismissing when they decided to drop all those 1,000 pound bombs on innocent men, women and children in Iraq.

So, you might want to examine your logic here and stop giving these very disturbed people a pass.


Obama is clueless, but smart enough to NOT get too involved, because he caused it in the first place. So NOW we know, start things, play race cards and ACT innocent, lay low, keep a low profile, and don't get your hands dirty. OH NO, Mr. Obama is so washed on the outside, and so rotten to the core on the inside. He's also a chicken, won't ever own up to anything. You can blame others, studder and stammer your way out of things that way. Saying it's above my pay grade?? What an answer! What a weasel! Vote present? Wow what responsibility??. How pro-active??? Obama is on middle ground don't you know, neither here nor there, except when it comes to getting his money. Then he pops his head right up, and his filthy hands right out.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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