Holtz-Eakin: McCain Tried to Forge Bipartisan Compromise

Posted September 29, 2008 at 6:08pm

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the senior economic policy adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), joined the chorus of Republicans late Monday who criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the collapse of the economic bailout bill on the House floor earlier in the day.

He also defended McCain’s actions during the past several days — especially during a tense White House meeting on the bailout bill last Thursday.

Holtz-Eakin said that all of McCain’s actions in the last week — including temporarily suspending his presidential campaign — were meant to gain bipartisan support for the $700 billion bailout package to solve the current economic crisis.

“He went to a White House meeting which was sadly lacking in the spirit of bipartisan problem solving and instead devolved into finger-pointing partisanship and a meeting in which he held his tongue and chose not to engage,” Holtz-Eakin explained.

After the meeting it seemed progress was being made over the next several hours, so McCain reactivated his campaign to participate in the first presidential debate against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Holtz-Eakin said. But he said the same partisan wrangling that marked the White House meeting broke out on the House floor on Monday.

“[The process] broke down quite frankly with partisan attacks from Speaker Pelosi on the floor in the midst of what should have been the final moment of bipartisanship, a spirit which evidently prevailed in the room by all accounts,” he said. “Minority Whip [Roy] Blunt [R-Mo.] said that that was the spirit in the room until it got to the floor of the House of Representatives and quite frankly after a partisan attack, Republicans chose to hold their cards and instead of rising above those attacks and doing the nation’s business today they did not pass this bill.”

Asked whether McCain felt any responsibility for the bill’s failure to pass, Holtz-Eakin said that the Senator worked to improve the bill from its original form.

Holtz-Eakin said McCain has no current plans to suspend his campaign again.