As US presidential elections close by; due on November, we wil henceforth, follow the details hereon including the talks of both. We start with the recent talk of Obama with starting his 2-week tour from yesterday.
Obama, in Economic Tour, Criticizes McCain Agenda
RALEIGH, N.C. — With the Democratic stage to himself for the first time, Senator Barack Obama opened a two-week tour of battleground states on Monday, attacking Senator John McCain’s economic policies and moving to focus on the ailing economy as the central theme of the general election campaign.
In his most pointed and sustained attack on Mr. McCain’s economic agenda, Mr. Obama said that a McCain presidency would be a continuation of President Bush’s faltering economic policies. And he highlighted his own proposals to aid economically beleaguered Americans: tax cuts for middle-income families and retirees, a $50 billion economic stimulus package, expansion of unemployment benefits, and relief for homeowners facing foreclosure.
The address, at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, pushed for a more active government role in restoring the nation’s economic health and aiding distressed families, setting up a stark contrast with Mr. McCain, who has proposed tax cuts for corporations and other tax reductions to spur the economy. But while Mr. Obama has tried to link Mr. McCain’s economic policies to Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain has departed from the president by calling for a greater government role in helping homeowners.
Mr. Obama’s speech started a two-week tour that points to his campaign’s view of the primary November battlegrounds. Monday’s speech was in North Carolina, which has long backed Republican presidential candidates but which has a large black population, and Mr. Obama will be traveling to Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio to press the economic theme.
In his remarks Monday, he spoke of hard-pressed workers in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin struggling to pay their bills and buy gasoline. And he laid the blame squarely at the feet of President Bush and his allies, including Senator McCain.
“We did not arrive at the doorstep of our current economic crisis by some accident of history,” Mr. Obama said here to 900 invited guests, a relatively small audience for him. “This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle that was beyond our power to avoid. It was the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long.”
He added a moment later: “We were promised a fiscal conservative. Instead, we got the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history. And now John McCain wants to give us another. Well, we’ve been there once. We’re not going back.”
Leading Congressional Democrats indicated on Monday that they planned to work hand-in-glove with the Democratic standard-bearer on a range of economic issues, including gas prices and increasing joblessness.
On Monday, House Democrats said they intended to force a separate vote this week — possibly Thursday — on extending unemployment benefits for those whose aid is running out.
Though President Bush and many Republicans in Congress have resisted the extra benefits, Democrats say they believe that rising unemployment will strengthen their hand and provide political ammunition should the president veto the bill.
And on Tuesday, the Senate will vote on whether to take up a package of energy initiatives that includes a new tax on so-called windfall profits of big oil companies and provisions to reduce speculation in oil futures, which some analysts say have contributed to price increases.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, echoed Mr. Obama when he said, “People understand that, as these energy prices go through the roof, as the stock market craters, as we have the highest unemployment figure increase in recent years, the Bush economic policies have failed.”
And Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is leading the campaign effort of Senate Democrats, said coordinated messages by Mr. Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress would yield big gains in November. “We in the Senate relish the opportunity to work with Senator Obama,” Mr. Schumer said in the call. “Now that the primary season is over, there is going to be a clear voice.”
Democratic Congressional leaders and Howard Dean, the party chairman, also set a joint press conference for Tuesday afternoon to lay out the party’s economic policies and to try to draw a contrast with Mr. McCain.
Mr. McCain, who attended fund-raising events in Washington and Virginia on Monday, issued a statement criticizing Mr. Obama’s approach.
“While hard-working families are hurting and employers are vulnerable, Barack Obama has promised higher income taxes, Social Security taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and tax hikes on job-creating businesses,” a McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said in a statement issued before Mr. Obama’s remarks. “Barack Obama doesn’t understand the American economy, and that’s change we just can’t afford.”
Mr. Obama’s address came as many Americans were grappling with gasoline prices of more than $4 a gallon and a weakening employment picture. Before Mr. Obama spoke, Pamela Cash-Roper, an unemployed nurse, told of the economic pain caused by family medical crises. Mrs. Cash-Roper, who described herself as a lifelong Republican, said she had turned to the government for help, “but help was nowhere to be seen.” She said she supported Mr. Obama because he had been working for “hard-working Americans like us for more than two decades.”
The pieces of the economic program Mr. Obama laid out on Monday were not new, but the context was. This is the first full week of the general election campaign, and the candidates are beginning what promises to be an intense fight over the economy and the Iraq war. Mr. Obama, by focusing on economic issues, was trying to move those concerns ahead of Iraq and national security matters, where Mr. McCain has more experience.
Mr. Obama proposed a number of short-term measures to relieve the hardships of American families and rescue the economy from the brink of recession.
In addition to his proposal for $50 billion more in immediate stimulus programs and relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, he proposed new rules to prevent mortgage and credit card fraud and tax reductions for middle-income families and retirees.
He said he would preserve Social Security by requiring higher payments from the wealthy. He vowed to resist all efforts to privatize the program or raise the retirement age. He also vowed to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens and noted that Mr. McCain had originally opposed the Bush tax breaks because, as Mr. Obama put it in a rare verbal slip, they were “too skewered” to the rich.
Obama advisers said the new programs would be paid for by a combination of tax increases, elimination of waste and savings from the reduction of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama has said in the past that he would allow the tax cuts enacted in the Bush administration to expire and impose higher taxes on some investment income.
Senator Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican who supports Mr. McCain, said in a conference call Monday afternoon that Mr. Obama was simply casting blame for the nation’s economic woes and making promises he could not pay for. “I think the speech we heard today is what the American people are sick and tired of,” Mr. Burr said.
Mr. Obama posed the choice between him and Mr. McCain as a fundamental one between the future and the past, the ground on which he hopes to fight the campaign.
“That is the choice we face right now,” Mr. Obama said. “A choice between more of the same policies that have widened inequality, added to our debt and shaken the foundation of our economy, or change that will restore balance to our economy, that will invest in the ingenuity and innovation of our people, that will fuel a bottom-up prosperity to keep America strong and competitive in the 21st century.”
“It is not an argument between left or right, liberal or conservative, to say that we have tried it their way for eight long years and it has failed,” he added. “It is time to try something new. It is time for a change.”
Mr. Obama praised Mr. McCain’s years of military and government service, but his generosity quickly gave way to an assault on Mr. McCain’s economic theories and credentials.
“John McCain and I have a fundamentally different vision of where to take the country,” Mr. Obama said “Because for all his talk of independence, the centerpiece of his economic plan amounts to a full-throated endorsement of George Bush’s policies. He says we’ve made great progress in our economy these past eight years. He calls himself a fiscal conservative, and on the campaign trail he’s a passionate critic of government spending, and yet he has no problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for big corporations and a permanent occupation of Iraq — policies that have left our children with a mountain of debt.”
Courtesy: New York Times