Who Said What?

(1) "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

(2) "Failing to police lenders and neglecting to protect consumers ushered in the subprime crisis that has brought the American economy and Wall Street to their knees."

(3) "There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen."

(4) "I am always amazed at how quickly the United States Congress can move to protect the interests of the largest banks."

(5) "Yikes."

(1) "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

(2) "Failing to police lenders and neglecting to protect consumers ushered in the subprime crisis that has brought the American economy and Wall Street to their knees."

(3) "There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen."

(4) "I am always amazed at how quickly the United States Congress can move to protect the interests of the largest banks."

(5) "Yikes."

On a day when "the American financial system was shaken to its core," as The Wall Street Journal put it, (1) U.S. Senator John McCain asserted that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." His comment came on a day when the storied Lehman Brothers announced it would file for bankruptcy, on the day after and the bullish broker Merrill Lynch agreed to be sold to Bank of America, and less than a week after the U.S. government bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to avert a meltdown in the home mortgage markets.

Homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure, seniors frightened about how they will afford to heat their homes this winter, workers thrown onto unemployment, families fretting over high prices for gasoline, clothing and food also might cause some to question whether "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

One senator with a different view of the American economy was (2) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "It's not strong for homeowners…across the country, where foreclosure looms as never before. It's not strong for low-wage earners who are spending more of their paychecks than ever just to pay for gas to get to work. It's not strong for middle class families who are saving less and spending more on groceries, clothing and health care. It's not strong for the more than 600,000 victims of the Bush/McCain economy who have lost their jobs this year. And it's certainly not strong for fixed-income senior citizens who face a winter of record heating costs.

Even (3) former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in an ABC News interview on Sunday that this is "by far" the worst economic crisis he has ever seen. "There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go," he said. "Let's recognize that this is a once-in-a-half-century, probably once-in-a-century type of event," he added.

Way back in 1998, when Greenspan was the Fed chief and (4) Bernie Sanders was a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the then-congressman from Vermont observed: "I am always amazed at how quickly the United States Congress can move to protect the interests of the largest banks in this country." Sanders remarks presaged the events of this year, when bailouts were engineered for Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and Bear Stearns.

After that recent series of gargantuan government bailouts, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson this past weekend decided not to cushion the crash landing of Lehman Brothers. To the keen eye of Princeton economist and New York Times columnist (5) Paul Krugman, the treasury secretary seemed "to be betting that the financial system…can handle the shock of a Lehman failure. We'll find out soon whether he was brave or foolish." Paulson apparently concluded that "playing Russian roulette with the U.S. financial system was his best option.

"Yikes," Krugman concluded.