ST. JOSEPH — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced Republican John McCain's mortgage bailout plan as a way "to reward banks and lenders for their greedy behavior."
McCain has proposed to devote $300 billion, some of which would be taken from the $700 billion financial rescue package recently passed by Congress, to buying troubled mortgages at face value from financial institutions. He promotes it as a way to help homeowners.
But Barack Obama's running mate said the real winners would be the banks that made the bad loans.
"He's going to spend $300 billion of your money so the banks don't lose a single penny. I'm not making this up. I know it sounds like fiction, but I'm not making this up," Biden told several hundred supporters at Western Missouri State University in St. Joseph. "That's not bailing out the homeowner. You're bailing out the bank."
The Obama-Biden campaign has increasingly tried to paint McCain as lurching from one position to another in a bid to persuade voters that he would be capable as president of addressing the nation's economic woes.
"Now he's gone to the point of actually wanting to reward banks and lenders for their greedy behavior," Biden said. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a steady hand."
McCain spokeswoman Wendy Riemann said Biden's criticism was an example of "putting politics above the interests of the people."
"The homeownership resurgence plan proposed by Sen. McCain represents no new expense to the taxpayer, but refocuses priorities to more directly assist the homeowners on Main Street who are suffering instead of the greed on Wall Street," Riemann said.
Biden's event was the first of four campaign rallies scheduled over two days in the swing state of Missouri, where recent polls have showed the race about even.
The first two events — in St. Joseph and the Kansas City suburb of Liberty — are in swing counties that narrowly backed Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 elections but switched to Republican President Bush four years later, when he won Missouri by a more convincing margin. The latter two events — in the capital of Jefferson City and in Springfield — are in reliably Republican areas.
But all four areas have been registering new voters at a faster pace than the statewide average.
Even in rural parts of Missouri that typically trend Republican, the faltering economy has caused greater uncertainty among some voters about whom to support in the Nov. 4 election. Biden noted that Missouri's unemployment rate is at its highest level since 1991, dragged down particularly by job losses in the manufacturing sector.
"We need a wholesale change in the economic philosophy that dug us into this," he said. "That change is not going to come from John McCain."