The only real “big news” from the second debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, said Michael Maiello in Forbes online, is that the “small-government Republican” wants the U.S. Treasury to buy up and renegotiate homeowners’ “bad home-loan mortgages,” to prevent more costly foreclosures. McCain’s idea is “provocative,” but it has several inherent contradictions and sounds unfair to renters.

We can’t evaluate the plan—assuming it wasn’t “simply fodder for the debate”—without more detail, said Jane Sasseen in BusinessWeek online. Fixing “the underlying foreclosure crisis” is crucial, but is McCain suggesting that we buy the mortgages at their inflated face values, bailing out shifty lenders, or that we force lenders to take a haircut?

McCain needs to explain his surprise proposal better, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post online, but it sure worked politically. The “hopeful, forward-looking” plan could help keep millions of Americans in their homes. Sure, it’s a “pretty bold use of government,” but that could have “serious political appeal” in this crisis.

Actually, McCain’s “bold new idea” doesn’t look so new, said Rex Nutting in MarketWatch. “It’s part of the $700 billion bailout package” signed into law last week. Section 110 of the law says that the Treasury will buy up “troubled assets,” including home mortgages, and modify them to “minimize foreclosures.” Did McCain even read the bill?