Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert Guttman Headshot

Cancel Friday's Foreign Policy Debate and Hold an Economic Debate at the New York Stock Exchange Instead

Posted: Updated:

A former United States Senator Everett Dirksen was quoted as saying: "A billion dollars here and a billion dollars there and pretty soon it all adds up to real money."

That was many decades ago and today we are talking in the trillions of dollars that the American taxpayer is going to have to pay to try to save our so-called free enterprise market system.

Are we not in such dire straights on the economy that Congress cannot even hold lengthy hearings on the crisis? Does Congress really have to adjourn this week without actually debating this massive problem?

Are we really going to give Henry Paulson a blank check to decide where our trillion dollars and more goes and what firms it goes to? Are firms really "too big to fail?" What happened to the outrage of conservative Republican congressmen and women over government intervention in the U.S. economy?

This is arguably one of the most conservative administrations in American history and the degree of intervention in the financial marketplace is staggering. It is unprecedented. In the 1930s FDR was called every name in the book for his part in changing the economy to help people out in the Depression days. Will today's bailout eventually even dwarf FDR's efforts during the Depression?

Now the presidential candidates, the conservatives in Congress, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Nancy Pelosi all seem to be saying that times are so terrible that we need to act now without any substantial hearings on the subject, which is not the way this should be going.

To show the urgency of our economic crisis, cancel this Friday's presidential debate on foreign policy in Mississippi and instead hold a debate on the economy. Now is the time for everyone to concentrate on our credit, financial and economic difficulties while Congress is debating the topic this week and hopefully even next week and beyond.

The stock market closes at 4 p.m. So the candidates need to rent the New York Stock Exchange and invite the country's leading financial leaders, previous government officials like Alan Greenspan and Bob Rubin, and investment gurus like Warren Buffett as well as people struggling with their mortgages to attend a two hour or longer debate on how to fix this situation.

The American voter is afraid of what lies ahead on our economic landscape. We all want to know what is happening and why we are bailing out billion dollar corporations with our tax dollars without much discussion whatsoever on why this is happening.

These are extraordinary times and the presidential candidates are running ordinary campaigns. Stop these ridiculous negative ads blaming one another for our economic ills. There is enough blame to go around. First, let's find out in reasoned and reasonable debate what the problems are and how we can fix them to benefit all Americans and not just the Wall Street firms involved.

Having a prime time presidential debate on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this Friday with an audience of financial and economic leaders and average citizens discussing the topic is vital for all of us.

The debates should be moved from Mississippi to New York this Friday. Enough already with negative ads and blaming each other -- the time for that is over and the time for solutions are now. Both candidates would gain--as would the American public -- by a debate on what, when and why this happened and how it can be fixed.

We are all tired of these crisis weekend meetings where one after another firms go out of business on the suggestion of the Treasury and Federal Reserve. Do we really want Paulson and Bernanke to have these expanded powers? Where is the outcry for letting the market decide? Where are the believers in Adam Smith?

Everyone thought that the Bush administration would be judged by history for the Iraq War. Now it will also be judged for this gigantic economic meltdown.

Think about it. If a Democratic administration were in power and did this massive government intervention in the marketplace, there would be such an outcry about socialism coming to America from talk show hosts and conservative members of Congress. Today we hear very little from either side on whether or not this trillion dollar plus bailout is really what is needed.

Stop and debate this crisis. It might even be so important that Congress might have to stay in town and do its work rather than going home to campaign. Congress has been too silent on the entire economic meltdown.

So, for this week move the presidential debate to the New York Stock Exchange and have Obama and McCain question Paulson, Cox and Bernanke and others who should be required to be in the audience. Let's have a true, real and spirited debate on why our economy is going down the drain.

Maybe something can actually be accomplished at a re-styled presidential debate. Instead of voting on which candidate won or lost by his comments, maybe we could step back for a few hours this Friday and have the American voter be the winner by being given the knowledge of what is really happening in our economy today and how it can be fixed.