Candidates' Economic Plans Don't Add Up

Economists find presidential contenders' economic policies lacking.

ByABC News
March 26, 2008, 7:51 PM

March 27, 2008 — -- Between the housing crisis, the plummeting dollar and the credit crunch, Americans may be going to the polls in the fall with their money on their minds.

The presidential candidates talk a great deal about the economy yet none of the candidates have been able to gain the upper hand on the issue, and some economists find their economic proposals lacking.

"I don't think any of the three candidates have come up with anything that comes close to matching the size of the problems we're facing," said economist Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

"We have an unprecedented housing meltdown that is spilling over into the financial sector and I'm not sure any of the three candidates really appreciates the enormity of this problem," Baker said.

"We are facing the most traumatic economic crisis that we have faced since 1929, " said Peter Morici, business professor at the University of Maryland. "None of the three candidates are addressing the tough trade and banking problems the country faces."

Hoping to change that today, Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivered an economic speech at New York's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to introduce him. He called for immediate relief for homeowners hit by the housing crisis, modernization of the regulatory framework, and an additional $30 billion stimulus package.

"Under Republican and Democratic Administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices," Obama said. "We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both."

Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. McCain's touted his "major" economic speech Monday and Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton also touted her economic plan Thursday, unveiling a $2.5 billion dollar proposal yearly job training program.

But none of the candidates appear to be on course to matching the 1992 political success then-candidate Bill Clinton enjoyed with his effective campaign motto: "It's the Economy, Stupid."

"They're not explaining their economic plans in a compelling and thematic way that gives people confidence that they'd be the best person to deal with the big problems that the country faces," said Mark Halperin, ABC News political analyst, writer and author of "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008."

"Bill Clinton was the master at this," he said, "It was connecting up his life story, the place America was at the time, along with an explanation of how the government was going to meet the challenges the country faced."