LA Times reported that McCain "backed" AIG bailout, but not that McCain said he opposed it one day earlier

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

The Los Angeles Times reported, "[Sen. Barack] Obama has not taken a position on AIG's rescue, unlike [Sen. John] McCain, who has backed it." But the Times did not point out that the day before the bailout was announced, McCain indicated that he opposed a federal government bailout of AIG, asserting that "we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."

A September 19 Los Angeles Times article reported that Sen. Barack Obama "has not taken a position on AIG's [American International Group] rescue, unlike [Sen. John] McCain, who has backed it." But the Times did not point out that McCain opposed a federal government bailout of AIG before he "backed it." Indeed, appearing on the September 16 edition of NBC's Today -- hours before the federal government announced up to $85 billion in loans for AIG -- McCain said that the situation could "harm the average American worker," but that "I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG" and that "we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else." One day later, after the government intervention had been announced, McCain appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and said: "[O]n the bailout itself, I didn't want to do that. And I don't think anybody I know wanted to do that, but there were literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investments, whose insurance were at risk here, and they were gonna have their lives destroyed because of the greed and excess and corruption."

In his Today appearance, co-host Matt Lauer asked McCain of the possibility that the government would intervene on behalf of AIG, "What should the government do? First of all, do we even have that kind of money in the system?" McCain responded, "The government should not -- the government -- of course, this is one of the outstanding and glaring examples of the -- of the terrible problems and corruption and greed and excess that has caused all of this fallout, which is going to harm the average American worker. No, I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG, and I'm glad that the [Treasury] Secretary [Henry] Paulson is apparently taking the same line." Lauer then asked, "So if we get to the point, middle of the week, as we heard in that report, where AIG might have to file for bankruptcy, they're on their own?" McCain responded, "Well, quote, 'on their own,' we have to -- we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."

During McCain's September 17 interview on Good Morning America, the day after the Federal Reserve Board announced up to $85 billion in loans to AIG, co-host Robin Roberts asked McCain, "You love coming to this part of the country -- hard-working people. They wake up and they hear the news that the federal government is going to bail out an insurance giant, AIG, by the tune of $85 billion. Do you agree with that?" McCain responded:

Well, I agree with you. These are hard-working Americans. Last night, I had dinner with a man who's a teacher, his wife is a teacher. He's a locksmith. Another family, the mother is a nurse. They're the fundamentals of America. They're still strong. But they've been betrayed by the top of our economy, by the greedy Wall Street excesses that sometimes, I think, may even be corruption, and they have had their lives harmed because of the greed and excess. We've got to fix it. We've got to say that it'll never happen again. As president, I will make sure that it never happens again.

Now, on the bailout itself, I didn't want to do that. And I don't think anybody I know wanted to do that, but there were literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investments, whose insurance were at risk here, and they were gonna have their lives destroyed because of the greed and excess and corruption. When I say corruption, many of these executives, these Wall Street CEOs said everything's fine, as you know, up until a short time ago -- everything's fine, not to worry. Meanwhile, Congress, the regulators, paid no attention whatsoever to it.

Roberts did not ask McCain how he reconciled his belief in the necessity of the bailout with his assertion the day before that "we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."

In a September 17 statement on the bailout, McCain said the government "was forced" to intervene on behalf of AIG, and also said: "The focus of any such action should be to protect the millions of Americans who hold insurance policies, retirement plans and other accounts with AIG."

From the September 19 Los Angeles Times article:

Obama has not taken a position on AIG's rescue, unlike McCain, who has backed it. But on Thursday, he called on the Treasury and Federal Reserve to "use their emergency authorities to maintain the flow of credit, to support the availability of mortgages and to ensure that our financial system is well capitalized."

Obama also kept up his scornful attacks on McCain for tacking back and forth and for "a week of rants."

McCain returned the criticism: "When I pushed legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Sen. Obama was silent."

From the September 16 edition of NBC's Today:

LAUER: So many people in this room today, Senator, are going to be watching what happens with the American insurance giant AIG.

McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: You heard [CNBC host] Maria [Bartiromo] talking about it --

McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: -- a second ago. They need something in the neighborhood of $75 billion to become secure again. What should the government do? First of all, do we even have that kind of money in the system?

McCAIN: The government should not -- the government -- of course, this is one of the outstanding and glaring examples of the -- of the terrible problems and corruption and greed and excess that has caused all of this fallout, which is going to harm the average American worker. No, I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG, and I'm glad that the Secretary Paulson is apparently taking the same line.

LAUER: So if we get to the point, middle of the week, as we heard in that report, where AIG might have to file for bankruptcy, they're on their own?

McCAIN: Well, quote, "on their own," we have to -- we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else. This is something that we're going to have to work through. There's too much corruption, there's too much access. We can fix it. I believe in America. We can have a 9-11 Commission such as we had after 9-11 --

LAUER: Right.

McCAIN: -- because this a huge crisis. And we can come up with fixes and we can make sure that every American has a safer future, and that is to make them know that their bank deposits are safe and insured.

From the September 17 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

ROBERTS: You love coming to this part of the country -- hard-working people. They wake up and they hear the news that the federal government is going to bail out an insurance giant, AIG, by the tune of $85 billion. Do you agree with that?

McCAIN: Well, I agree with you. These are hard-working Americans. Last night, I had dinner with a man who's a teacher, his wife is a teacher. He's a locksmith. Another family, the mother is a nurse. They're the fundamentals of America. They're still strong. But they've been betrayed by the top of our economy, by the greedy Wall Street excesses that sometimes, I think, may even be corruption, and they have had their lives harmed because of the greed and excess. We've got to fix it. We've got to say that it'll never happen again. As president, I will make sure that it never happens again.

Now, on the bailout itself, I didn't want to do that. And I don't think anybody I know wanted to do that, but there were literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investments, whose insurance were at risk here, and they were gonna have their lives destroyed because of the greed and excess and corruption. When I say corruption, many of these executives, these Wall Street CEOs said everything's fine, as you know, up until a short time ago -- everything's fine, not to worry. Meanwhile, Congress, the regulators, paid no attention whatsoever to it.

Posted In
Economy, Elections
Network/Outlet
NBC, ABC, Los Angeles Times
Person
Matt Lauer, Robin Roberts
Show/Publication
Today Show, Good Morning America
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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