Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Iowa, and the gathering storms
--David Gergen, Former Presidential Advisor

There is a growing disconnect right now between the turmoil in the financial markets and the tumult on the campaign trail. As the candidates make their closing arguments in Iowa, they seem almost oblivious to the rising fears about the U.S. mortgage crisis and a global credit crunch.

Just yesterday the Fed proposed new rules to curtail high-risk mortgages while the European Central Bank poured half a trillion dollars into the markets, apparently stunning investors. Will these be enough? Do we need far more action? Among the candidates, only Chris Dodd -- as head of Senate Banking -- has been speaking up loudly to say more is needed.

A far clearer cry came yesterday from Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary and highly respected economist. He thinks we are likely heading toward a punishing recession and is urging -- surprisingly for a Democrat -- a $50-75 billion package of tax cuts and spending increases; he also wants the Fed to act far more aggressively to reduce interest charges and increase spending by consumers.

If any of these candidates were in the White House today, they would be seized with these economic questions and debating the Summers proposal. But they are off in a different universe. Just a few days ago, Mike Huckabee didn't even know about the new intelligence finding on Iran until 24 hours after it had already caused an explosion among diplomats.

When the frenzy of these early primaries is finally over, the country needs the winners to settle down and have a serious conversation with us about how they think we should navigate the gathering storms.
Posted By CNN: 11:38 AM ET
  12 Comments
Good luck David!! Getting these candidates to sit down and actually talk about anything serious and their actual thoughts on them is never going to happen! They will try to avoid these questions like the plague!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 12:09 PM ET
Everything is such a mess that I don't think anyone can figure out what to do. They are all talking in circles and somehow manage to avoid the real issues. They are just too concerned about offending their base. They all need to show more gumption. It's the same story for Dems and Republicans. We need a strong Independent candidate!!
Posted By Anonymous johnny b : 12:11 PM ET
I beginning to think that any one of these candidates will be elected without ever really telling us anything..They all seem to be riding a wave of let's get this election over with, and whoever is most popular will win. Win on their problem solving skills? No. Win on their hype? Probably. I hope I'm wrong.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 12:28 PM ET
More to the point, David, why is the government so clueless when it comes to money? (...to put the most generous construction on it - a cynic might see complicity or even culpability.) Everyone saw the mortgage meltdown coming.

Why was Congress holding hearings on usurous credit practices - raising consumer credit card interest rates to the high twenty percent without warning - only a week or two ago, when the practice has been going on for YEARS, taking money from overburdened citizens and giving it directly to banks?

In a few years, Congress is going to be shocked, SHOCKED, that most major corporations are seriously underfunding their pension plans. A few more 'Enrons' and several hundred thousand people without the pension they thought they'd be receiving after a lifetime's work and maybe someone will notice.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 1:05 PM ET
Yes, I agree with you, Gerg. Our presidential candidates appear to be oblivious to what's becoming a steamy topic about the fate of our economy or should I call it stagflation. Unfortunately, it will be the consumers who suffer the most. Although the Fed is proposing solutions, they don't appear to be in favor of the consumer.

And how about Bush signing the Energy Bill today? Although a good thing, it will most likely effect consumer's pockets too. Good for the environment but added costs to the consumers and manufacturers. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds during this upcoming election year.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 1:39 PM ET
This Presidential election cycle has been going on for so long, it's taken on a surreal appearance and the candidates appear totally disconnected from the dangerous reality facing this nation.

I keep hoping for a candidate to come forward who actually responds with a clear, concise plan of action to confront the problems facing this nation head on.

To expect anything more than the usual pandering from all the candidates, Republicans and Democrats, perhaps, I've also been taken over by this surreal election cycle.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 2:16 PM ET
Isn't it amazing that the focus is not on who would best run the country but on who runs the best campaign? Winning an election is a valuable skill, but one that a President uses only once, sometimes twice.

Didn't we leave popularity contests behind in High School?

Claire Colvin, Abbotsford, BC
Posted By Blogger <b>Claire Colvin</b> : 2:19 PM ET
David, I agree with you. The candidates need to get to the point. I am really concerned about this election. Everyone is flip-flopping their ideas, they are attacking each other, and trying to change their images left and right. I don't know who to support in the primary!
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 2:38 PM ET
David/AC360:
I believe a recession is enviable unless someone can pull a rabbit out of their hat somewhere.

Take a look outside of the arrogant world of Wall Street. At record numbers Americans are losing their most prized possession: The American family home.

The family facing foreclosure don't worry about if suggested federal packages to bail out lenders or generate consumer spending are passed, they just want to pay their bills, send their kids to school and maybe, just maybe, have some left over for their retirement.

But instead, they face the skyrocketing property or state taxes, poor test scores from their schools, past due notes from utilities, and debt in the trillions with their social security and Medicare benefits.

Forget about Hillary's voice and Huckabee's subliminal cross advertisement. We as Americans need straight answers to tough questions. We just want to know where our next dollar is coming from and if we can afford to feed our families.

Is that too much to any presidential candidate?
Posted By Blogger Sharon from Indy : 2:42 PM ET
I don't think its fair to the people that they could put in small print or word things around on any contract.You big bussinees people always could take it to your lawyers to look over us hard working working class people that can't afford to pay for a lawyer.There should be a law that no contract can be sighned without a lawer looking over for you on your side be paid for by the goverment with are tax money that we pay for anyway.
Posted By Anonymous saveitok : 4:53 PM ET
David, I do like hearing your input
on our candidates, you are an asset
to the 360 team. So glad AC has you on.

Both parties will continue to talk in circles, give no specifics as to
what will actually be done if elected. Pork will continue to overflow, the rich will get richer,
the poor will get poorer, and the
middle class will continue to carry
the burden of the messes that both
parties are guilty of making. At this point, I think I could spin a
wheel and which ever candidate the
wheel chose is who I would vote for and do no worse than trying to
pick who I think would actually make a difference. If I ever have
grandchildren, their children's children will still be paying for
all the mistakes that have been made over the last few years.
Posted By Anonymous barbara-dalton ga : 4:55 PM ET
Candidates should be able to respond to changing issues as quickly as they would be expected to as President. To be disconnected now implies that they are not doing their current job they were elected to do and does not assure this voter that they can be effective in a higher office.

I'm tired of hearing about their religion, the politics of hope, and the advantages of experience. If they can't succintly state their position on current issues now, why should we assume that they will be any more effective as President later?

Annie Kate
Bimingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 4:15 PM ET
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