The New York Times sets the stage for today's Obama-McCain events on the economy. "Not since at least 1980 … has the economy been in worse shape heading into the heart of a presidential campaign. The crush of bad economic news — six consecutive months of job losses, rising rates of home foreclosures, gasoline prices seemingly headed toward $5 a gallon — is increasingly setting the contours of the race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Both candidates plan to spend this week focusing almost entirely on the economy. But both face political problems with the issue."
"Mr. McCain … has been shadowed by his statements earlier in the campaign that he is not expert in the subject of the economy and by the likelihood that voters will associate him with the economic policies of the Bush administration. He has embraced President Bush's stands on central issues like tax cuts and trade policy. Mr. Obama … has had difficulty connecting with working-class voters, and his more ambitious responses to economic problems like expanding access to health insurance would be paid for in part by tax increases, always a risky proposition."
In his speech on the economy today, McCain will offer several contrasts with Obama (on health care, taxes, spending), according to advanced excerpts. "Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs. My opponent wants to make it harder by imposing a 'pay or play' health mandate on small business. This adds $12,000 to the cost of employing anyone with a family… Sen. Obama's tax increases will hurt the economy even more, and destroy jobs across this country. If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Sen. Obama is going to raise your tax rates. If you have an investment for your child's education or own a mutual fund or a stock in a retirement plan, he is going to raise your taxes. He will raise estate taxes to 45%. I propose to cut them to 15%.
More: "When I'm president, I will order a stem to stern review of government, modernize how it does business and save billions of dollars. I will veto every single bill with wasteful spending. We aren't going to continue mortgaging this country's future for things Americans don't want or need. My opponent has a very different record on this issue. He has sought millions upon millions of dollars in earmarks since his election to the Senate. In 2007 alone, Sen. Obama requested nearly $100 million for earmark projects. I have never asked for a single earmark in my entire career."
Politico's Allen also gets his hands on a policy paper the McCain campaign will release today, in which McCain will promise to "balance the federal budget by the end of his first term by curbing wasteful spending and overhauling entitlement programs, including Social Security. The vow to take on Social Security puts McCain in a political danger zone that thwarted President Bush after he named it the top domestic priority of his second term… 'In the long-term, the only way to keep the budget balanced is successful reform of the large spending pressures in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,' the McCain campaign says in a policy paper to be released Monday."
The McCain camp has released a statement signed by 300 economists -- most of them conservatives -- backing McCain's economic plans.
The DNC has released a Web video rebutting McCain on the economy. "Like Bush's economy?" it asks. "Hire McCain."
Paul Krugman asks: Just how much is Bush to blame for the current state of the economy?
The Boston Globe: "McCain, who has repeatedly said that economics is not his strength, has unapologetically embraced free trade. But, demonstrating an approach that advisers say fits into a broader set of contrasts with his opponent's approach to international affairs, McCain is increasingly making the case to Americans that trade should be considered foremost as a national security concern."