Obama and McCain on the bailout: You first!

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The presidential nominees delivered statements and held dueling (and brief) press conferences this afternoon to discuss the Bush Administration’s bailout plan. Both candidates spoke about the need to do something, and to do it quickly. And both said similar things about the the need for the plan to provide more oversight and to prevent CEOs of troubled firms to walk away with millions while taxpayers foot the bailout bill. But neither drew a line in the sand saying one principle or another was so important to him that he would vote against a bill that did not honor it.

Why so much caution and reticence from both Obama and McCain? Because however imperfect the ultimate bailout bill is, neither wants to be tagged as the key killer vote if the bill fails and the markets go into free fall. Unless, of course, the other guy votes no, too. Which is why the odds of Obama and McCain voting the same way seem so much greater than the odds that one votes yes and the other votes no. The same holds on the question of whether either of them would actually skip the vote because of Friday’s presidential debate. Either both skip, or both vote. Hard to see a split. (In the end, I think they both hold their nose, turn up and vote for whatever is on the table come Friday.)