Democrat Barack Obama, seeking to cement his advantage on the economy, today plans to lay out a more detailed rescue plan for the middle class.
Republican John McCain, trying to turn his deficit in the polls to his advantage, today delivered a more pumped-up speech he hopes will fuel a comeback.
Obama, like McCain, voted for the $700 billion financial bailout plan. But he and other congressional Democrats now say there needs to be a second $150 billion stimulus package, aimed at helping average Americans and to be enacted immediately after the Nov. 4 election.
"Over the course of this campaign, I’ve laid out a set of policies that will grow our middle class, strengthen our economy in the long-term," Obama said in Toledo. "I’ll reform our tax code so that 95 percent of workers and their families get a tax cut. I'll eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000 a year. We'll make the tax code fair. I’ll bring down the cost of healthcare for families and businesses by investing in preventative care, new technology, and giving every American the chance to get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress give themselves. We'll ensure every child can compete in the global economy by recruiting an army of new teachers and making college affordable for anyone who wants to go and is willing to put some time into community service....We are going to create five million new, high-wage jobs by investing in the renewable sources of energy that will eliminate the oil we currently import from the Middle East in ten years. We’ll create another two million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges, our infrastructure.
"But that’s the long-term strategy for growth," Obama added. "Right now, we face an immediate economic emergency, and that requires urgent action. We can’t wait to help workers and families and communities who are struggling right now -- who don’t know if their job or their retirement will be there tomorrow; who don’t know if next week’s paycheck will cover this month’s bills....We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle class and we need to do it not five years from now, not next year, we need to do it right now. Today I’m proposing a number of steps that we should take immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities, and help struggling homeowners. It’s a plan that begins with one word that’s on everybody’s mind, and it's easy to spell -- j-o-b-s."
The Obama campaign issued a summary of his plan:
-- A temporary tax credit for firms that create new jobs in the United States over the next two years.
-- New legislation to allow families to withdraw 15% of their retirement savings – up to a maximum of $10,000 – without facing a tax-penalty this year (including retroactively) and next year.
-- Financial institutions that participate in the Treasury’s financial rescue plan should be required to adhere to a homeowners code of conduct, including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for any homeowners living in their homes that are making good faith efforts pay their mortgages.
-- The Federal Reserve and the Treasury to work to create a program to lend to state and municipal governments, similar to the steps the Fed recently took to provide liquidity to the commercial paper market.
The campaign also said: "Obama’s plan also calls for temporarily eliminating taxes on unemployment insurance benefits; keeping all options on the table to help our automakers weather the financial crisis; having the Fed and Treasury prepare for guaranteeing a broader range of liabilities of the banking system; and instructing Treasury to help unfreeze markets for individual mortgages, student loans, car loans, loans for multi-family dwellings and credit card loans."
Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, responded, “The American people heard a series of new proposals from Barack Obama today, but what they did not hear was a promise to stop pursuing his massive tax increases. As our economy and our financial markets struggle through unprecedented turmoil, one thing is certain: raising taxes on the American people and American business will have a devastating effect. When pressed on this point, Obama has repeatedly said he would consider abandoning his planned tax increases if the economy is 'weak,’ but apparently this economy is not weak enough for Barack Obama. It is clear that the economy is hurting, that Americans need across-the-board tax relief, and yet Barack Obama has proven unwilling to break with the left-wing of his party and stand up for the American taxpayer.
“Interestingly, Barack Obama called a moratorium on foreclosures, which is a policy he had previously labeled ‘disastrous’ when it was proposed by a political opponent. Proving yet again that Barack Obama’s positions on the issues are tied to elections, not solutions for the American people.”
McCain, meanwhile, gave a revamped stump speech this morning in Virginia Beach, Va., and warned about what would happen if Obama and a Democratic Congress were in power.
In warming up the crowd, Sarah Palin said there is justified anger about insider dealing, corruption, and voter fraud.
"America, let John McCain turn that anger into action," she urged.
In a seeming swipe at President Bush, a fellow Republican, McCain declared, "We cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change. The hour is late; our troubles are getting worse; our enemies watch. We have to act immediately. We have to change direction now. We have to fight."
"I've been fighting for this country since I was seventeen years old, and I have the scars to prove it. If I'm elected President, I will fight to take America in a new direction from my first day in office until my last. I'm not afraid of the fight, I'm ready for it," he added.
"We have 22 days to go," McCain said. "We're 6 points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them.
"What America needs in this hour is a fighter; someone who puts all his cards on the table and trusts the judgment of the American people. I come from a long line of McCains who believed that to love America is to fight for her. I have fought for you most of my life. There are other ways to love this country, but I've never been the kind to do it from the sidelines.
"I know you're worried. America is a great country, but we are at a moment of national crisis that will determine our future. Will we continue to lead the world's economies or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? Will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?
"My answer to you is yes. Yes, we will lead. Yes, we will prosper. Yes, we will be safer. Yes, we will pass on to our children a stronger, better country. But we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly, with courage and wisdom. I know what fear feels like. It's a thief in the night who robs your strength. I know what hopelessness feels like. It's an enemy who defeats your will. I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again. I'm an American. And I choose to fight."
Obama-Biden Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer responded, “Less than twelve hours after his campaign announced that Senator McCain would finally have some new ideas on the economy, he decided that it was more important to give a new political speech about where he is in the polls. But the American people know that this election isn’t about who’s up or who’s down, it’s about who will change the disastrous Bush-McCain economic policies of the last eight years. Barack Obama will continue to bring his message of change to every corner of this country, which is why he’s talking today about his new plan to provide immediate relief to struggling families and homeowners, jumpstart job creation in America, and ease the credit crisis that’s hurting too many businesses.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.