MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer HELENA
Barack Obama's senior economic adviser said Thursday that turmoil on Wall Street prompted emergency meetings of Obama's team, but so far no substantive changes to the candidate's economic policies. Austan Goolsbee, in an interview with The Associated Press, said Obama had the foresight to put together an economic plan that anticipated some of the problems currently unraveling on Wall Street. "It has necessitated a series of emergency meetings with his top economic advisers," Goolsbee said of events in the financial markets. "It has changed little in the way of the thrust of his program, because his program was designed all of this time perfectly well, understanding that we were in a difficult spot, that conditions were going to get worse and that financial markets were going to get worse." Goolsbee spent Wednesday and Thursday in Montana, speaking to small crowds about Obama's economic policies. He said financial pressures put on the middle class are at the core of the crisis. He said the median income has dropped over the last eight years, while prices for key products have increased. "It is totally clear that how we got to the position of crisis was an intense squeeze on ordinary Americans, deteriorating lending standards in mortgages, coupled with the shredding of the rules of the road from a multiyear, rabidly deregulatory environment promoted by the president, by Congress and by John McCain," Goolsbee said. The assertion echoed some of what Obama was saying Thursday, as the economy took center stage for both presidential candidates. In response to Obama's comments, a McCain spokesman said Obama has strengthened ties to spiraling lenders and been more interested in their campaign contributions than protecting Americans. McCain, also pushing economic issues, proposed creating a trust to review mortgage and financial institutions, identify weaker ones and strengthen them before insolvency.