There was, however, one major problem that they united to discuss in greater detail: the country’s burgeoning financial crisis.
With an extreme sense of urgency, Sen, John McCain told attendees that America’s fi nancial woes are getting deeper and that time is running out.
“The times are too serious to put our campaign on hold, or to ignore the full range of issues that the next president will face. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and obviously we are running out of time,” McCain said, adding that he was set to go to Washington to meet with President George W. Bush and congressional leaders.
McCain opened the plenary session for the initiative’s annual meeting. Initially, the plenary was supposed to tackle integrated solutions on the global problems of water, food and energy but the focus shifted a bit because of the current fi nancial crisis.
“The world is having various problems but here in America, we have a crisis of our own that began in the fi nancial center of this city, not too far away from where we are today,” McCain said.
Sen. Barack Obama closed the plenary with a speech he delivered via satellite. He echoed McCain’s call for the immediate fi nding of solutions to solve this deepening problem.
“You are meeting at a time of great turmoil for the American economy. We are now confronted with a fi nancial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. Action must be taken to restore confi dence in our economy,” Obama said.
“It’s outrageous that we fi nd ourselves in a position where taxpayers must bear the burden for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street and Washington. But we also know that a failure to act would have grave consequences for the jobs, and savings, and retirement of the American people,” he added.
Obama also called for the creation of an independent and bipartisan board “to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way” and it was imperative for both the Republicans and Democrats to come up with bipartisan efforts.
“Now is the time to come together, Democrats and Republicans, in the spirit of cooperation on behalf of the American people,” he said..
Obama also pushed for the ordinary citizens, the taxpayers, whom he said need to be treated as investors. “Americans must not pay a single dime to reward the same Wall Street CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess,” he added.
Obama likewise outlined his four commitments should he win in November. He said, he would seek to end all malaria deaths by 2015 and promised to seek an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also hopes to increase foreign aid to cut extreme poverty in half worldwide by 2015 and to establish a $2-billion global education fund to erase primary education gap in the developing world.
“Our dependence on oil and gas funds terror and tyranny; it has forced families to pay their wages at the pump; and it puts the future of our planet in peril. This is a security threat, an economic albatross, and a moral challenge of our time. The time to debate whether climate change is manmade has past—it’s time, fi nally, for America to lead,” Obama said.
McCain, accompanied by his wife Cindy and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, thanked Clinton for inviting them to attend the meeting.
“This man’s drive, and determination, and compassion for those in need are still a force for good in the world, and I am proud to call him a friend,” McCain said.
Clinton said that he was grateful to both presidential candidates for finding time to address the initiative’s participants.
He shared that Sen. Obama contacted both him and his wife for advice on the current crisis, “He didn’t just call me and Hillary and ask us what we thought. He had a conference call with the primary members of my economic team and we talked about what a mess we are in,” he said.
According to Clinton, Obama added, “Just tell me what you think it ought to do and do not waste any breath talking about what is – or is not – politically salable. Let’s fi gure out what the right thing to do is and then we’ll fi gure out how to sell it.”
After two days of policy and politics, the Clinton Global Initiative wrapped up Friday.
CGI is now in its fourth year and draws world leaders, celebrities, activists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global problems. It coincides with the General Assembly meeting taking place on the other side of town at the United Nations. (www.asianjournal.com)