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Pennsylvania in Play

Posted: 11/01/08 01:38 PM ET

Senator McCain has pinned much of his hopes to Pennsylvania, a state experiencing a lot of economic pain which he and Governor Palin are promising they will ease. At least one major poll, Mason-Dixon/CBS News, corroborates the McCain campaign's claim that they are within a 4 point margin of Obama in the state, with 43% for McCain, 47% for Obama, and 9% undecided.

That's too close. As a native son of Pennsylvania, and proud of it, I know it's critical for Obama to win in the state, and I also know it's in Pennsylvanian's interest to elect him.

We are living through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and we are facing one of the worst recessions in the last 100 years, with thousands of Pennsylvanians at risk for losing their jobs and their homes. This is no historical accident; it's a direct result of the policies of the Bush Administration, which Senator McCain has supported.

As the former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, I have seen firsthand the good that government can do. When I left office as a decade ago, we had achieved balanced budgets, robust economic growth producing jobs for talented people, and a banking system that was both well regulated and leading the world in innovation.

All this has been squandered as a result of eight years of failed economic policies of the Bush Administration. Its lax financial regulation, and its profligate fiscal policy run counter to the values I learned growing up in Pennsylvania, and counter to the values of working families, who know it's wrong to borrow more than you can afford. Senator McCain saw fit to support those failed policies and would almost certainly continue to follow them were he to be elected President.

The priorities for getting Pennsylvania and the US economy on the track to economic recovery are clear:

1. We must have a fair and serious regulatory regime for all financial institutions operating in the United States, one that does not tolerate the "payday lenders," "liar loans" and usurious "option-ARM" crowd that have been allowed to devastate our citizens.

2. We have to balance our federal budget and get our trade deficit under control. We must stop pledging our future and our children's future to foreign companies that take our jobs and sell us knick-knacks in return.

3. We have to pursue policies that are fair to local economies and local financial institutions, and that do not tilt the playing field to large concentrations of wealth and power in only one or two U.S. or foreign financial capitals. How sad our forefathers would have been to see a small group of U.S. mega-banks forced to be partially nationalized by the federal government. How dismayed they would have been by government policies that have so concentrated power and wealth and so poorly regulated it that all we can do is put billions of dollars of taxpayer money into these institutions to prop up our financial system.

I am convinced that Senator Obama can move America in this direction, which is why I strongly support him for president.

This will be the most important election in our lifetime. What's at stake is whether or not we will be able to bequeath a stable, sound economy to future generations. That's a question which Pennsylvanians have a big role in deciding on Tuesday.

Mr. Ludwig is CEO of Promontory Financial Group, a global financial consulting firm with headquarters in Washington, D.C. He served as U.S. Comptroller of the Currency from 1993 to 1998.