A: Well, it is the case that the economy is becoming a greater and greater concern because, obviously, itís not working for the vast majority of Americans. Iíve been out there since March talking about this mortgage crisis and urging much more aggressive action to stem the foreclosures that are beginning to cascade around the country. But at some point youíve got to have government action to really tackle these problems. The stimulus package is a start, but itís not nearly enough. What we have to do is have an economic policy that once again creates jobs with rising incomes. Obviously, I disagree with the Republicans about the tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year. I think we should let those expire and use that money on universal health care and other needs that people have that are really directly related to the state of the economy.
OBAMA I did not compliment Republican ideas. That is not true. What I said was is that Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, Clinton was a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart. What I said had nothing to do with their policies.
A: No. I think it helps to mitigate the agony. What I hear as I go in and out of peopleís homes and talk to so many who have already lost their homes, theyíre in foreclosure, they see these interest rates that are about to go up and they know they canít pay them, is that we take action now. Iíve been calling for action since last March. When I first started calling for it, a lot of the same economists who now say donít do anything about it said, it wonít be that bad. The mortgage crisis is not only destroying home ownership, it is having a ripple effect across the world. So my moratorium for 90 days is a work-out. Itís not a bailout. I want people to be able to see whether they can stay in their homes paying a rate that is affordable for them. The interest rate freeze is merited. If youíre a homeowner who has been at the bottom of this incredible scheme that was established, youíre left holding the bag and you donít have the house anymore.
This administration canít figure out what we should do. I have a plan: a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days, freezing interest rates for five years, which I think we should do immediately. What we now see is our financial institutions having to go hat in hand to borrow money from foreign government funds. Iím very concerned about it. Iíd like to see us move much more aggressively both to deal with the immediate problem with the mortgages and to deal with these foreign funds.
A: This stimulus shouldnít be paid for. The whole point of stimulus is going to require an injection of federal funding. And I would start with the mortgage crisis. I want to have a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days so we can try to work them out. I want to freeze interest rates for five years, and I want to have a $30 billion package that will go in and try to stabilize the housing market and stabilize communities that are going to be affected by that.
Q: But many people couldíve had a fixed mortgage at a higher rate, but they opted for a cheaper one. Should they not bear some responsibility?
A: The bankers, the mortgage lenders, the brokers, all bear a lot of the responsibility, because many of the practices that were followed were just downright predatory and fraudulent. There is no doubt about that. A lot of people got into subprime loans who frankly couldíve been in a conventional fixed-rate loan.
A: Iím glad they did what they did. But it canít be just left to a bail-out for the banks. Weíve got to figure out how weíre going to [help] people facing foreclosures. And I have recommendations on that, that do not lend themselves to an easy yes or no.
CLINTON: Six years ago, we didnít yet have a recession. We didnít have the 9/11 attack. We didnít have high deficits. We didnít have the Bush policies. Thankfully we escaped a plague of locusts, but weíve had some challenges in the last 6 years. So Iím not discouraged Iím just changing direction, trying to work in different ways to help people right here at home create these opportunities for themselves.
SPENCER: Well, if we did have a plague of locusts, you know whoís fault it would be, right? George Bush. Heís responsible for everything. When are you responsible, Sen. Clinton? When are you responsible, after 6 years? You pledged 200,000 jobs. If youíre not responsible, then youíre ineffective. Youíre ineffective as a United States Senator from New York.
CLINTON: Iím a very strong supporter of these changes that are needed to stimulate the upstate economy. And many of those changes can only take place at the state and local level. Because what I have laid forth in my economic plan for upstate is a way to use tax credits to stimulate business, to expand the high tech industry that is coming to Buffalo.
LAZIO: I do believe that the upstate economy has turned the corner. It also needs new partnerships, alliances, something Iíve been doing down in Long Island. Creating technology incubators, building on our assets in the upstate economy. Making sure that we build good partnerships and a first-class educational system. One of the things you can do is to begin to address the issue of taxation. We need to make sure that people donít pay taxes on top of income that theyíve already paid taxes on.
LAZIO: I donít believe that itís a good idea for us to be building casinos. I would allow the state of New York to make these decisions. But in the end, Iím not a big fan of gambling. Economic development in the area is an important issue, but I would not focus on the quick hit, the cheap hit in gambling. Iíd focus on the kind of jobs where our children can afford to stay here, raise a family, buy their own home.
CLINTON: I know how hard the people in Niagara are working to try to turn their economy around, and if they believe that a casino would help attract more tourists back, I would support that. I leave that to their judgment. But there has to be more of a strategy about the upstate economy --tax credits to help jobs be created, creating the regional skills, alliances, commitment to work force development, etc.
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