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Clinton blasts Treasury plan, hits McCain

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
HARRISBURG, PA -- The Treasury Department's plan to reform the way the financial system is regulated don't go far enough, Clinton said today.

The proposal announced by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would streamline regulations and give the Federal Reserve new powers to set rules for lending to and regulating a greater list of financial institutions.

The New York senator also continued to bash presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, accusing him of not having a plan for dealing with the economy. "Today, the Administration, through the Secretary of the Treasury, has announced that finally the Bush Administration is going to take some action to better regulate the financial markets," she said during a roundtable at a diner here Monday. "Well, after years of a wait-and-don't-see approach to the regulatory failures that led to the housing and the credit crisis, they've announced a plan that comes late and falls short. No amount of rearranging the deck chairs can hide the fact that our housing and credit markets are in crisis, and they're sinking deeper every day. Every day we fail to take aggressive action is a day lost. You know, Sen. McCain recently gave speech on the economy, and best I could determine his plan was not to have a plan. If he got the 3:00 am call on the economy, he would just let the phone ring and ring and ring."

The senator briefly touched on her own proposals, which her campaign sent out earlier today, for regulating the industry and helping people facing economic hardship. "I have proposed immediate steps we can take right now to shore up the housing and credit markets and to restore confidence and keep millions of families in their homes," Clinton added. "We need minimum mortgage standards so mortgage lenders just can't make bad mortgages and then sell them off to the highest bidder somewhere in Shanghai or Berlin without responsibility. We need to have immediate regulatory safeguards against new risks in our financial markets, more transparency, more oversight of a lot of these new financial products that nobody understands."

The roundtable kicked off the fourth day of an economy tour meant to show Clinton is ready to manage an economic crisis and to help struggling families. She also spoke about doing more to help the middle class, listing some of the groups who have been hardest hit like truckers, farmers, and fishermen. "We want to extend the tax cuts that are about to expire and reform the Alternative Minimum Tax so that it doesn't hit middle class families," she said. "I will cut middle-class taxes by at least $100 billion a year."

Before the roundtable began, Clinton met outside in a light rain with about two dozen truckers who were on site to protest high gas prices, an issue she's been bringing up frequently on the campaign trail as she focuses on so-called kitchen table issues. Two of the truckers took part in the roundtable.