25 Sep 2008

Candidates wary over bail-out

7:14 am on 25 September 2008

The two US presidential candidates have urged changes to a proposed $US700 billion bail-out of the US banking system, but stopped short of rejecting it outright.

Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama both called for greater oversight and voiced concern that ordinary taxpayers should not lose out.

Their comments came as the bail-out plan met scepticism from both parties at a Senate banking committee hearing.

Meanwhile, a new poll suggests Senator Obama may be opening a lead over his rival.

Analysts say he is benefiting from the turmoil in the US economy, with voters saying they trust him more than Mr McCain to handle the crisis.

The two candidates will meet in the first of three presidential debates on Friday, due to focus on foreign policy.

On Tuesday, Senator Obama and Senator McCain each demanded guarantees of greater oversight of the plan, under which a federal fund could buy bad debt from financial institutions.

At the same time, Senator McCain warned that time was running short for Congress to take action to avert further economic pain.

He said Congress must be sure that the bail-out, presented to the senate banking panel by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, would not reward Wall Street executives at the expense of US home-owners.

Latest poll

Meanwhile, a Washington Post-ABC News national opinion poll issued on Wednesday put Senator Obama nine points clear of Senator McCain, with 52% support to his 43% among likely voters.

Two weeks ago, polls suggested the two candidates were neck-and-neck.

According to the Washington Post, half of those surveyed said the economy and jobs were the most important issues in deciding their vote, up from 37% a fortnight ago.

The poll suggested Senator Obama had a big edge - 14 points over Senator McCain overall and 21 points among independent voters - as the candidate more in tune with the economic problems voters faced.

Meanwhile, Senator McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, are jointly to meet the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine on Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Mrs Palin met Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe on Tuesday.