Floyd Norris, writing in The New York Times, notes that “the most important legislation passed by the current Congress almost certainly was the bank bailout bill,” yet “neither man [Obama or McCain] chose to mention it in this week’s final presidential debate.”
Norris notes that the public was strongly against the bailout, and “there is virtually no difference between Obama backers and McCain supporters in terms of supporting the bailout.”
That raises the question of what might have happened if one major candidate had risked going against the unified political establishment in Washington and had voted against the bill. Would that move have appealed to the majority of Americans who say they dislike the bailout, or would it have backfired by making that candidate seem irresponsible?
The debate on Wednesday might have been more entertaining — and perhaps more illuminating — if the two most prominent third-party candidates, the independent, Ralph Nader, and Bob Barr, a Libertarian, had been included. They represent the two major strains of opposition: Mr. Nader thinks it is homeowners, not banks, who deserve help, while Mr. Barr sees the bailout as a violation of free enterprise principles.