WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hillary Clinton blamed the "fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration" for the country's current economic turmoil and market fears after emergency moves by the Federal Reserve to cut discount rates and help back the purchase and bailout of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase.
"...We are in a very dangerous period in the economy. We need vigilance and we need leadership and we've got to get it from, you know, this administration," she told reporters after an Iraq policy speech at George Washington University.
The Democratic presidential candidate said if she occupied the White House she would have started trying to avoid this economic crisis a year ago by putting a moratorium on home foreclosures and freezing the interest rates on sub-prime mortgages - topics she discusses often on the campaign trail.
"You cannot work your way out of this credit crisis unless we stabilize the home market so I certainly agree that tending to the consequences that could flow from inaction in the credit markets is essential moving quickly to try to stabilize Wall Street is essential," she said. "But let's not forget about Main Street and let's not forget about the millions of households with many millions of Americans with the consequences that has for the economy as well."
The New York senator said the high price of oil is another dangerous factor for the economy and the Bush administration needs to start urgently working towards greater energy independence. She said she would refuse to buy oil at current prices to put in the strategic petroleum reserve and would actually release oil to help ease the burden.
"I personally believe that if the president of the United States stood up today and said 'we've had it, I may have been an oil man, but we cannot continue to rely on the oil companies and the oil producing countries. I'm going to work with Congress, I'm going to take things off the shelf. I'm going to be willing to move much more rapidly toward energy independence,' you would see the price drop. I really believe that," she said.
Clinton said that when she proposed measures a year ago to help stave off a crunch in the credit market she was "ridiculed by the Bush administration" and her "Democratic opponent" in the race for the White House.
Shortly after Clinton's speech, Barack Obama's campaign released a statement from the Illinois senator touting his own solutions for the financial crunch, including mortgage relief legislation co-sponsored with Senate colleague Chris Dodd, and pointing to statements he had made months ago warning of a looming crisis.
Like Clinton, he blamed President Bush for the nation's economic problems. "History will not judge President Bush kindly for his failure to act in a way that could’ve prevented or alleviated this economic crisis," said Obama. "There have been few Administrations so out of touch with the concerns and the struggles of working Americans and so beholden to the lobbyists and special interests who blocked any kind of regulatory oversight of the financial sector.
"Whether it was subprime lending, credit cards, or bankruptcy laws, Washington has allowed these special interests to prevent sensible policy that could have prevented the most serious effects of the current predicament."
–CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson