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McCain on housing, hits Clinton plan

From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- In what were his most extensive remarks on the current housing crisis to date, McCain spoke to nearly 20 cameras and a small crowd of local business owners here this morning and expressed his confidence in the foundations of the U.S. economy.

After what amounted to a brief primer on the creation of the subprime housing bubble, McCain tried to demonstrate his economic knowledge by explaining in some detail the "series of complex, inter-connected financial bets that were not transparent or fully understood," which contributed to the broader economic crisis now facing the country.

VIDEO: John McCain says that the government is not in the business of saving and rewarding banks or small borrowers who behave irresponsibly.

"I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers," McCain said, beginning his proposed solutions. "Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy."

McCain did not specifically address the Fed's recent alleged "bail out" of Bear Stearns, but he seemed to imply support for such moves geared toward protecting the "entire financial system."

He called for increasing the required down payment for certain home mortgages when the conditions allow for it, and for assembling "the nation's accounting professionals" and "the top mortgage lenders in this country" to create a corporate-driven homeowner assistance plan.

Although McCain said he was "prepared to examine any new proposals," when asked by reporters after his event if that included the assistance plan that Hillary Clinton proposed yesterday he amended his comments.

"I'm open to ideas," McCain said. "That idea I believe is a very expensive one. I don't believe it works, and I'd like to know how it's paid for."