McCain gives up on his mortgage plan

In the face of widespread disappointment, McCain scraps his own response to the mortgage crisis.

By Steve Benen

Published April 11, 2008 12:59PM (EDT)

About two weeks ago, John McCain, in a high-profile speech, unveiled his response to the mortgage crisis. Despite the seriousness of the challenge, the GOP presidential nominee unveiled a classic YOYO policy: "You're on your own."

As the New York Times noted shortly after the plan was presented, "The real core of his speech was his argument against government action to help dig distressed homeowners — or the country — out of the mortgage mess.... His suggestion that federal aid might wrongly reward 'undeserving' homeowners sounded both mean-spirited and economically naive. And then there is the double standard. He seemed less concerned about the government helping reckless bankers, endorsing its role in preventing the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns."

Almost immediately, Barack Obama began hammering McCain for his plan, and Hillary Clinton used it as the basis for a televised ad. Even some Republicans, including senator and former RNC chairman Mel Martinez of Florida, were reluctant to defend McCain's proposal.

Yesterday, in one of the quicker flip-flops in recent memory, McCain reversed course. The Washington Post, apparently anxious to give McCain a hand, said the senator was "refining" and "revising" his plan. That's enormously generous of the newspaper, but in reality, McCain's proposal was an embarrassing dud, so he gave up on it.

Senator John McCain, who drew criticism last month after he warned against broad government intervention to solve the deepening mortgage crisis, pivoted Thursday and called for the federal government to aid some homeowners in danger of losing their homes, by helping them to refinance and get federally guaranteed 30-year mortgages.

"There is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority No. 1 is to keep well-meaning, deserving homeowners who are facing foreclosure in their homes," Mr. McCain said in a speech on economic themes that he gave at a window company in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

Funny, two weeks ago he thought these same homeowners shouldn't be "rewarded" for acting "irresponsibly."

Perhaps the nation's callous constituency is not quite as large as the McCain campaign had hoped.

Steve Benen

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