Bush, Congressional Leaders To Meet

What might come out of talks on the financial crisis and ailing economy between President Bush and various congressional leaders, including White House hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain?

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch on what to pay the boss in very troubled times.

BRAND: Limits on CEO pay, that's one agenda item as congressional leaders meet with President Bush and the two presidential candidates later today to work on that $700 billion bail-out plan. NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson is here. And Mara, congressional leaders are working on the details of this bail-out plan today. What's the latest?

MARA LIASSON: Well, Nancy Pelosi said this morning that she feels pretty confident that they have kind of gotten the four principles the Democrats had insisted on into at least the basic outlines of this package. And they are kind of oversight - remember originally the president's plan didn't include any. Equity, some kind of equity for tax payers, something about executive compensation, and the president said last night he was willing to limit it, and also forbearance. In other words, forbearance for people who have foreclosed mortgages that they get some help, not just Wall Street.

BRAND: And they'll be meeting later with the president. What's that about if they're already going ahead with making changes?

LIASSON: The big meeting with the president, including the two presidential candidates, is a photo-op basically. And it's to show bi-partisanship and that everybody's on this together working on it in an urgent way. That's about it.

BRAND: And what's the latest with the presidential debate scheduled for tomorrow night in Oxford Mississippi?

LIASSON: The presidential commission thinks it's going on, the University of Mississippi thinks it's going on, and certainly Barack Obama plans to be there. John McCain had said yesterday that he was going to have his staff talk to the commission and the Obama campaign about postponing or delaying the first debate while the bailout was being worked on, because everybody had to be in Washington working on this. That presumption is debated by Democrats, whether he really was needed in Washington to work on this.

BRAND: Is it possible that everyone will show up but Senator McCain?

LIASSON: I would find that very, very surprising. This is another bold - some people would reckless - move on the part of McCain to shake up the race, put up Obama on the defensive, make himself look like he's a man of action dealing with this crisis, showing leadership. He did get one thing from Obama which is that he is making Obama, in effect, come back to Washington to meet with the president today. When the president issued that invitation Obama had to accept, and of course, the president issued it to help John McCain because that's what McCain was calling for, that they both fly back here to work on this.

As far as the debate goes, I think that there are a lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, scratching their heads this morning about exactly what he meant to do with his call to postpone the debate. And I think in the end it is very unclear whether he actually plans to not show up. I expect to be there tomorrow, and I would put money on seeing both of them there.

BRAND: NPR's Mara Liasson thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you Madeleine.

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