Economics 101: The Prisoner's Dilemma

The clock continues to tick in Washington as Congress and the Bush Administration try and work out a bailout of the nation's financial systems. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain find themselves between a rock and a hard place – both want to seem in touch with voters' increasing concerns over the country's economic health and their apprehension over such a hefty price tag on this bailout plan. But they also want to show strength and leadership on the No. 1 issue on voters' minds. And/but they also are watching out of the corner of their eye at what the other guy is going to do.

And stop the presses…McCain held a press conference today.

Obama took questions from the press today as well, but he did so last Friday too. It's been forty days since McCain gave some straight talk to the press corps following him on the campaign trail, an unprecedented dry spell from the candidate who promised a weekly White House press conference if elected.

Both candidates started with opening remarks on the economy and offered up bullet points on what should happen with the bailout plan. But neither committed to voting for or against the bailout.

Obama framed the White House proposal as "stubborn inflexibility" from President Bush and said it is not time for "my-way-or-the-highway intransigence from anyone involved."

Per ABC News' Sunlen Miller, Obama's plan calls for: - The inclusion of protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to further reward the bad behavior of irresponsible CEOs on Wall Street.

- A set up of an independent board that includes some of the most respected figures in the country, chosen by Democrats and Republicans, to provide oversight and accountability at every step of the way. Obama says that Paulson cannot act alone on this.

-A call to return any profits made by the government on the plan directly returned to taxpayers in addition to a Financial Stability Fee – a small fee, starting after the economy is recovered that would help recoup any losses from the bailout.

- Providing assistance to help to families who are struggling to stay in their homes. Will Obama or McCain make the trip to Washington if there is a vote on the bailout this week?

Obama – who is preparing for Friday's debate for three days in Tampa – says that he will only come back to Washington to vote for the bill if it's a close vote, per Miller. "Well look if we get a consensus and everybody is popping champagne – then I will probably be going back to campaign with folks who are having a tough time in places like Ohio, and Michigan and Pennsylvania. If this ends up being a close vote or a vote where the outcome is an open question then obviously this is a top priority."

ABC News' Ron Claiborne asked McCain what he would do if the fate of the bill was in his hands, as Democrats on the Hill have suggested. The Republican nominee dismissed that notion, per ABC News' Bret Hovell.

"This issue should be - and their vote should be determined in how we can resolve this crisis and get America going again," McCain said. "This is a huge crisis. We know, in the words of many experts and mine. This is the greatest financial crisis since World War II. So to somehow for the Democrats to say that their vote is going to be gauged on my vote frankly doesn't do them a great deal of credit.

"Their first and only priority should be making sure this economy recovers and get back on our feet again," McCain said.

Per Hovell, McCain laid out five provisions that he would like to see in the bill, but could not say if anyone of them would be a deal breaker in terms of his vote.

o greater accountability including a bipartisan board to provide oversight
o path for taxpayers to recover money put into the bailout fund
o transparency in the review and implementation of this and any legislation
o no Wall Street executive profit
o no earmarks

With the economy dominating the headlines, McCain starts his Wednesday with an economic meeting and statement to the press. The Republican nominee will spend the day focusing on foreign policy with a series of meetings in New York with leaders in town for the United Nations General Assembly. McCain will be joined by his running mate Sarah Palin for meetings with the Presidents of Georgia and Ukraine, Prime Minister of India and U2's Bono. Palin has solo meetings with Iraq's President Talabani and Pakistan's President Zardari.

Palin sits down with CBS News' Katie Couric in New York for an interview that will be broadcast Wednesday night. This will be Palin's third television interview, following her interview with Charlie Gibson in Wasilla, Alaska two weeks ago and Sean Hannity in Cleveland, Ohio last week, per ABC News Imtiyaz Delawala.

Obama takes a break from debate prep for a rally in Dunedin, FL. His running mate hits the Midwest and delivers what Biden aides are billing as a major foreign policy speech in Cincinnati OH and holds a rally Jeffersonville IN. Per ABC News' Matt Jaffe, this speech is the second framing speech leading up to the vice presidential debate next Thursday in St. Louis, MO.

Poll Alert!
There is a new ABC News/Washington Post out at 12:01am ET tonight focusing on the presidential race and the economy. Check in with for interesting new data on who is in the lead and how economic worries are playing out among voters.

A sneak preview, from ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer:

"Americans are giving a decidedly lukewarm reception to the federal government's efforts to address the global financial crisis. The public divides evenly on the efforts of the Fed and the Treasury to date: Forty-four percent approve, 42 percent disapprove. Moreover, likely given the cost and uncertainties, very few - 9 percent - strongly approve; 18 percent disapprove strongly, and 14 percent haven't formed an opinion about it."

On the campaign front. . .

-- Holds an Economic Meeting and then makes a statement, New York, NY
-- McCain and Palin meet with the President of Georgia and President of Ukraine, New York, NY
-- McCain and Palin meet with Bono, New York, NY
-- Tapes an interview on the Late Show with David Letterman, New York, NY
-- McCain and Palin meet with the Prime Minister of India, New York, NY
-- Meets with John Chambers, New York, NY

-- Meets with President Talabani, New York, NY
-- Meets with President Zardari, New York, NY
-- McCain and Palin meet with the President of Georgia and President of Ukraine, New York, NY
-- McCain and Palin meet with Bono
-- McCain and Palin meet with the Prime Minister of India (pool press spray)

As for the Democrats…

-- 1:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in Dunedin, FL

-- 9:00 am ET (Doors) – Holds Rally in Cincinnati, OH.
-- 4:15 pm ET - Holds Rally in Jeffersonville, IN.

Michelle Obama
-- 1:30 pm ET - Holds military roundtable with spouses in Allentown, PA
-- 4:30 pm ET (Doors) - Holds rally in Philadelphia, PA

At the White House. . .

-- No public events.


ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: McCain Holds Key to Administration's Bailout Passage on Capitol Hill LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker: Administration Tells Congress: Act Quickly or Risk Recession LINK

ABC News' Gary Langer: Blacks' Political Engagement Spikes, Though Racial Divisions Remain Deep LINK

ABC News' Kate Snow: McCain-Palin Camp Tried to Block Media Access to Palin in NY LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker: Obama, McCain Prep for Presidential Debates LINK

ABC News' Ron Claiborne: Frustrated by Limited Access, McCain Press Acts Out LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama on Biden's Initial Opposition to AIG Bailout: 'Joe Should Have Waited' LINK

ABC News' Sam Donaldson: Tells Congress to 'Suck It Up' and Approve Bailout LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden Says No to Coal Plants in America LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden Rips McCain for Protecting Off-Shore Tax Shelters LINK

ABC News' Viviana Hurtado: GOP House Mood 'Grim Anger and Reluctant Willingness' After Economic Briefing LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden Says No to Coal Plants in America LINK

ABC News' Jonathan Karl: Bush: Congress Will Act Quickly on Bailout Plan LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Wall Street Bailout: The McCain Conundrum LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: From the Fact Check Desk: Stem Cell Selling LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Unanswered Question Watch, Day 14: Are McCain-Palin Endorsing Sen. Ted Stevens' Re-election? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Hope-a! Obama Ouzos Love at Greek-American Fundraiser in Chi-town LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: Oh, That Joe! (No. 16 in a Series) -- Obama Pitches Woo LINK

ABC News' John Fritze: Maryland Feels Pinch of Thinning Federal Dollars LINK


Will Congress Be Persuaded?
Washington's top financial officials say the bailout decision is do or die. LINK

Bush Addresses U.N. General Assembly
The president emphasizes international cooperation in fight against terrorism. LINK

Bill Clinton's Charm Gets to Barbara
"View" co-host finally understands the "message" about what makes him special. LINK

Hasselbeck Bonds With Bill Clinton
"View" co-hosts discuss their off-camera interaction with the former president. LINK

McCain Ignores Questions from Press
Frustrated by limited access, reporters covering Sen. McCain act out. LINK

Sam: Congress Should Pass Bailout Plan
Donaldson: There's no great fiscal fix, so Congress must pass bill swiftly. LINK

Bush: 'Confident' of Bipartisan Bailout Bill
At photo-op with Pakistani president, Bush says Congress will pass bill quickly. LINK

Kimmel: Joe Biden the Singer?
Jimmy wonders if this jingle-singing man is Barack Obama's running mate. LINK

Calm Washington, Panicked Wall Street
The White House calls the bailout plan progress, but stocks still slipped. LINK

George on Market Politics
Why bail out Wall Street when so many average Americans suffer foreclosure? LINK

Obama Looks to Paint Virginia Blue
Democratic campaign focuses on word-of-mouth between neighbors to win votes. LINK

Congress Checks on Cell Phones
A leading cancer expert says cell phones increase the risk of brain cancer. LINK

The Great Bailout Not So Great?
The stock market plunged 372 points and oil prices had their biggest one-day surge. LINK

Get to Know 'The O'Reilly Factor' Host
Bill O'Reilly discusses his memoir, "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity." LINK