SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said he might have been wrong. The Bush administration considers a $40 billion package to stem foreclosures. And of course, the presidential race heads into the homestretch. NPR's senior news analyst, Dan Schorr, joins us. Hello, Dan.
DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And this qualified as headlines, Alan Greenspan saying, I might have been wrong in my approach to regulation. He said he was shocked.
SIMON: Please give your assessment of what he said.
SCHORR: Well, this is somebody who has spoken favorably of regulation. He was an early follower of Ayn Rand, who believed that governments are tyrannical. And so year after year, he spoke to preach the gospel of keep government hands off things, markets will correct themselves. And now along came one day when markets started not correcting themselves, and so it really is the end of the Ayn Rand era, I might say. And so now the government comes back.
SIMON: He was worked over pretty well by members of Congress, but I wonder, when you cast back on the entire generation-long history of deregulation, is it wrong to hang this on him alone?
SCHORR: No, it can't be one person responsible, although one person symbolic of the whole thing. It was Alan Greenspan whom I recall all those years making speeches about leave the markets alone. The markets can take care of themselves. He was venerated for a long time, and now the veneration has changed to something else but it's still Alan Greenspan, the symbol.
SIMON: The Bush administration is considering a $40 billion package to try to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. What does this package represent?
SCHORR: Well, it represents an attempt to stop the wave of foreclosures that continue even as we speak, and the idea is if they can pump some money, instead of just pumping money into banks to keep the banks going, if they find a way of getting mortgages re-financed and getting better terms for it with the help of some government money, that might help to cut down some of the future foreclosures.
SIMON: The latest polls in the presidential race were mentioned, with the exception of one seeming to show Senator Obama widening his lead over Senator McCain...
SIMON: And Senator Obama really enjoying percentages in all of the swing states. What do you make of the polls?
SCHORR: Well, the polls are interesting. They indicate that the thing is in flux. We have 10 days, and who knows what will happen in those 10 days? But overall, as you look back and you say, what is the most reliable indicator of how any election will go? The answer to that would be the state of the economy at the time. And the state of the economy at this time, being not very, very good, you can make some predictions based on that.
SIMON: If you're John McCain, do you have to tell yourself, look, you run best when you're an underdog?
SCHORR: If you are John McCain - he has one more trial that he has, one more time that he must fight, when he must grit his teeth and so on. And yes, he is fighting from behind. He says so.
SIMON: What do you make of the fact, Dan, that - at least if you take this seriously reflected in the polls, the economy cuts against the Republicans who have the presidency now, but not against the Democratic Congress which has control of the purse strings?
SCHORR: That's true. But I mean, there was a way of personalizing things as a president. The president presided over a disastrous situation in the economy. When it comes to the Congress people, while they are not in session now, they're not there to play their role at the moment, but they'll be back, and they'll be hearing from it, too.
SIMON: There's apparently a snag in the status-of-forces agreement between the United States and Iraq.
SCHORR: Yes, a complicated situation. At present there is a United Nations mandate under which international forces are acting in Iraq. That mandate expires on December 31st. The Bush administration has for many, many months been negotiating a kind of status-of-forces agreement to replace that but they're having trouble. And it's going back and forth, and so the next thing is, well, we are reaching December 31st, and what then?
Along comes a savior rather unexpectedly, and that is Russia because what they plan to do is to ask the United Nations to extend its mandate for a year. Everybody is saying, oh, you do that, and you know how the Russians are. There'll be in the way. Now Russia has announced that they will not be in the way. And it looks to me as a kind of a gesture by the Russians to the new American president.
SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.
SCHORR: Sure thing.
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