Economy top concern for voters as White House race heats up

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2008 (AFP) – The sputtering economy has asserted itself as the main concern for US voters less than four months ahead of presidential elections, and with an avalanche of alarming new data it appears unlikely that will change. While crude oil prices fell more than 16 dollars per barrel in the past week, on worries over economic growth and slowing demand, fuel prices at the pump are 80 percent higher than at the same time last year.

Adding to the bleak picture is the precariousness of US stock market prices and financial institutions.

In recent days, long lines of people desperate to withdraw their money formed outside of failed California-based bank IndyMac.

In IndyMac’s wake, 100-150 banks could shut their doors in the next 12 to 18 months, according to analyst estimates.

To build consumer confidence, McCain proposes making permanent the tax cuts initiated by President George W. Bush — cuts that McCain himself had long opposed.

According to the Arizona senator, tax breaks should revitalize consumer purchasing power and corporate investment.

“If you believe you should pay more taxes, I am the wrong candidate … Senator Obama is your man,” McCain said recently.

He has also promised, if ele