Friday, October 3, 2008

Barack Obama's speech in Abington, PA

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)
Abington, Pennsylvania
Friday, October 3, 2008

You know, there were a lot of noteworthy moments in that debate, but there’s one that sticks out this morning. It’s when Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job killing plan.

I wonder if she turned on the news this morning.

Because it was just reported that America has experienced its ninth straight month of job loss. Just since January, we’ve lost more than 750,000 jobs across America, 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone. This is the economy that John McCain said – just two weeks ago – was fundamentally strong. This is the economy that my opponent said made great progress under the policies of George W. Bush. And those are the economic policies that he proposes to continue for another four years.

So when Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that’s something they know a thing or two about. Because the policies they’re supporting are killing jobs every single day.
Read more...

Well, Abington, I am here to tell you that we cannot afford four more years of this. Because where I come from, there’s nothing more fundamental than having the sense of meaning and purpose that comes with showing up at work in the morning. There’s nothing more fundamental than being able to put your kids through college, or having health care when you get sick, or being able to retire with security. There’s nothing more fundamental than a good paying job.

That’s why we’re here today – because we need to do what we did in the 1990s and create millions of new jobs and not lose them. We need to do what we did in the 1990s and make sure people’s incomes are going up and not down. We need to do what a guy named Bill Clinton did in the 1990s and put people first again. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

We’ve tried it their way. It hasn’t worked. And it won’t work now. But let me tell you what will work.

What will work is investing $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable sources of energy like wind and solar – an investment that will generate five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced. And by the way, we can end our dependence on foreign oil in the process, and nothing will help our economy more than that.

What will work is making an investment in rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges. That will mean jobs for two million more Americans.

My opponent supports giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. But what will work is giving those tax breaks to companies that create jobs here at home.

My opponent supports tax havens that let companies avoid paying taxes here in America – tax havens that cost $100 billion every year. But what will work is shutting those tax havens and closing corporate loopholes.

What will work is giving tax breaks to the small businesses that are the engine of economic growth in this country, and cutting taxes – hear me now – cutting taxes – for 95 percent of all working families. Under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan.

That’s what will work. And that’s the kind of change Joe Biden and I are going to bring to Washington.

Now, let me be perfectly clear. The fact that our economy is in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This did not happen because of a few bad apples.

This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. Well, this crisis is nothing less than a final verdict on this failed philosophy – and it’s a philosophy that will end when I’m President of the United States.

That’s what this election is all about.

Because despite my opponent’s best efforts to make you think otherwise, this is the philosophy he’s embraced during his twenty-six years in Washington. And it shows just how out of touch he really is. How else could he offer $200 billion in tax cuts for big corporations at a time like this? How else could he propose giving the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills? How else could he come up with an economic plan that leaves out more than 100 million middle class taxpayers?

Senator McCain just doesn’t get it. Well, Abington, I do get it. And I think all of you get it too.

We know these are difficult times. We know how bad Pennsylvania has been hurting. But here’s what I also know – I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because that’s what Americans do. This is a nation that’s faced tougher times than these – we’ve faced war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we’ve risen to meet these challenges because we’ve never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here, in this country, our destiny is not written for us; it’s written by us.

Here, in the United States of America, the future is ours to shape. That’s what we need to do right now. Part of what that means is passing the rescue plan that’s before Congress. This is a plan that will help us deal with this immediate crisis and put our economy on a firmer footing. It’s a plan I voted for the other night – because I made sure it included taxpayer protections and wasn’t simply a blank check like this administration initially asked for. And it’s a plan that the House is going to be voting on soon. So to Democrats and Republicans in the House who are now on the fence, let me say this: do not make the same mistake twice. For the sake of our families, our economy, and our country, step up to the plate and pass this plan.

But understand, even with this plan, we may face a long and difficult road to recovery. That’s why, if I’m President, passing this rescue plan won’t be the end of what we do to strengthen our economy, it’ll be the beginning. It’ll be the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle class – a plan that will put opportunity within reach for anyone who’s willing to fight for it.

Now, some people have asked whether our weakening economy means the next President will have to scale back his agenda. But I reject the idea that you can’t build a strong middle class at a time when our economy is weak. Because I’ve got a different economic philosophy than John McCain – I believe that building a strong middle class is the key to making our economy strong. And that’s what we’ll do when I’m President of the United States.

So yes, we’ll create millions of new jobs, and yes, we’ll put more money back into the pockets of hardworking families. But we’ll also do something more. We will reform our health care system so we can relieve families, businesses, and our economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.

And we’re going to stand up to the insurance companies. This is personal for me. My mother died when she was 53 from ovarian cancer, and you know what she was doing in her final months? She was in her hospital bed arguing with insurance companies about whether or not it was a preexisting condition. So I know the pain that’s caused by our broken health care system. And that’s why as President, I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

And another thing we know will work in the long term is to make sure that our education system is second to none so that every child in America has the skills they’ll need to compete for high wage jobs in the 21st century. I’ve laid out a comprehensive plan to get there that will give our kids the opportunities they deserve.

When I spoke about that plan a while back, Senator McCain’s top education advisor said that this isn’t an issue he’s been focused on.

Well, let me tell you, if you want to create jobs and grow this economy in the 21st century, you had better focus on education. Because we know that countries that out-teach us today will outcompete us tomorrow.

Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in place the common-sense rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in the boardroom, and make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again.

But just as we demand accountability on Wall Street, we must also demand it in Washington. That’s why I’m not going to stand here and simply tell you what I’m going to spend, I’m going to tell you how we’re going to save when I am President.

I’ll do what you do in your own family budgets and make sure we’re spending money wisely. I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don’t work and aren’t needed. We’ll start by ending a war in Iraq that’s costing $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. And we’ll save billions more by cutting waste, improving management, and strengthening oversight.

These are the changes and reforms we need. A new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. Common-sense regulations to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Bottom-up growth that gives every American a fair shot at the American dream.

I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans – and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you’re cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you’re disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Pennsylvania, we will win this election, and then you and I – together – will change this country and change this world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka on Racism and the Election

Barack Obama's speech in Grand Rapids, MI

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Thursday, October 2, 2008

The events of the last few weeks have shown us that the stakes in this election could not be higher.

We are in a financial crisis as serious as any we’ve faced since the Great Depression. In recent weeks, we’ve seen our financial landscape shift before our eyes. We’ve seen a growing credit crunch put new pressures on banks, businesses, and families. And on Monday, we saw the single largest decline of the stock market in two decades – a decline that threatens not just the wealth of Wall Street executives, but the life savings, jobs, and economic security of millions of ordinary Americans.

Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling. But for so many of you here in Michigan, it isn’t really news at all.

600,000 jobs have been lost since the year began, including about 30,000 in Michigan. The unemployment rate here in Grand Rapids and other parts of this state is nearly double what it is across this country. And a new jobs report is coming out tomorrow that experts predict will show our ninth straight month of job loss.
Read more...

Nine straight months of job loss! Yet, just the other week, John McCain said the “fundamentals of the economy are strong.” Well, I don’t know what yardstick Senator McCain uses, but where I come from, there’s nothing more fundamental than a job. And when we’re losing jobs month after month after month, when good, hard-working Americans who’ve done everything right watch their dreams slip away, the fundamentals of our economy are not strong, and it’s time we had a President who understands that.

But it’s not just jobs. Home values are falling. Wages are flat-lining. And the cost of everything from gas to groceries is going up and up. These are the quiet storms that our families have been facing for months if not years, and these are the storms that will only grow worse if we do not act – and act now – to pass the rescue plan that’s before Congress. Democrats and Republicans in the House need to do what the Senate did last night and do what’s right for this country.

If the financial markets collapse, and loans are not available, businesses, large and small, will follow. It’s your jobs, your savings, your ability to pursue your dreams for your children that are at risk. That’s why we have to act. That’s why we have to set aside the politics of the moment and exercise something we haven’t seen in Washington lately – responsibility.

Now, let me be perfectly clear. The fact that we are in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This did not happen because of a few bad apples.

This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, and lobbyists who bought their way into our government. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. Well, this crisis is nothing less than a final verdict on this failed philosophy – and it’s a philosophy I’m running for President to end.

That’s what this election is all about.

Because despite my opponent’s best efforts to make you think otherwise, this is the philosophy he’s embraced during his twenty-six years in Washington. Over the past few days, he’s talked a lot about getting tough on Wall Street, but over the past few decades, he’s fought against the very rules of the road that could’ve stopped this mess. He says he’ll take on corporate lobbyists now, but he put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign. And if you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect him just to put themselves out of business, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.

The truth is, my opponent’s philosophy isn’t just wrong-headed, it reveals how out of touch he really is. How else could he offer $200 billion in tax cuts for big corporations at a time like this? How else could he propose giving the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills? How else could he come up with an economic plan that leaves out more than 100 million middle class families at the very moment they need help most?

Senator McCain just doesn’t get it. Well, Michigan, you and I do get it. That’s why we’re here today. We know the next four years don’t have to look like the last eight. We know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because this is America. We’re a nation that’s faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we’ve risen to meet these challenges because we’ve never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here, in this country, our destiny is not written for us; it’s written by us.

It’s time to take our destiny into our own hands and reclaim our economic future. Part of what that means is passing the rescue plan that’s before Congress. I know many people were outraged when this administration initially asked the American people to sign a blank check to solve this crisis. I was outraged too. That’s why I fought to make sure the rescue plan protects taxpayers, provides oversight and accountability, helps struggling homeowners stay in their homes, and doesn’t reward the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility led us to this perilous moment.

While these taxpayer protections are now part of the rescue plan, this plan still isn’t perfect. But it’s what we must do to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe. But understand, even with this plan, we may face a long and difficult road to recovery. That is why, if I’m President, passing this rescue plan won’t be the end of what we do to strengthen our economy, it’ll be the beginning. It’ll be the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle class – a plan that will create millions of new jobs; help families keep up with rising costs; relieve the burden of crushing health care costs; and educate the next generation of Americans with the skills and knowledge to compete with any workers, anywhere in the world.

Now, people have asked whether the size of the plan that Congress is voting on, together with the weakening economy, means that the next President will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. And there’s no doubt that some programs or policies that I’ve proposed on the campaign trail may require more time to achieve. But I reject the idea that you can’t build a strong middle class at a time when our economy is weak. I believe that building a strong middle class is the key to making our economy strong.

And that’s what we’ll do when I’m President of the United States.

To create new jobs, we’ll not only invest in rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and our outdated electricity grid – we’ll strengthen the auto industry that built the middle class in this country. A number of auto companies are showing real leadership in building fuel-efficient cars, and I applaud them for it. But I refuse to accept that Washington has to stand idly by while foreign automakers outpace us. I’m running for President to make sure the cars of the future are made in the same place they’ve always been made – right here in Michigan. I’ll be a President who finally keeps the promise that’s made year after year by providing the funding our automakers need to retool their factories and make fuel-efficient and alternative fuel cars and trucks.

And as we fight to reverse the decline in manufacturing over the last eight years, we’ll also bring manufacturing into the 21st century by building an American green energy sector. We’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced. Because the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future – and I believe that’s a fight this country will win.

I will also reform our tax code so that it doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups, so that we can grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. My opponent doesn’t want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime. In fact, I offer three times the tax relief for middle-class families as Senator McCain does – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will reform our health care system so we can relieve families, businesses, and our economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And we’ll reduce costs for business and their workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses and conditions – because that’s how we’ll make our companies more competitive in the 21st century.

And if I am President, I will meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in place the common-sense rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in the boardroom, and make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again.

But just as we demand accountability on Wall Street, we must also demand it in Washington. Because we cannot afford another four years of the kind of deficits we’ve seen during the past eight. We cannot afford to mortgage our children’s future on another mountain of debt. That’s why I’m not going to stand here and simply tell you what I’m going to spend, I’m going to tell you how we’re going to save when I am President.

I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don’t work and aren’t needed. We’ll start by ending a war in Iraq that’s costing $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. And we’ll save billions of dollars by shutting the overseas tax havens that let companies avoid paying taxes here in America.

And as for those programs we do need, I’ll make them work better and cost less. We’ll save billions by cutting waste, improving management, and strengthening oversight. And I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all – the days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House.

These are the changes and reforms that we need. A new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. Common-sense regulations to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Bottom-up growth that will create opportunity for every American.

I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans – and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you’re cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you’re disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Because together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Michigan, we will win this election, and then you and I – together – will change this country and change this world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Barack Obama's speech in La Crosse, WI

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008


We meet here at a time of great uncertainty. Our economy is in crisis. The dreams of so many Americans are at risk. And the American people are waiting for leadership from Washington.

On Monday, over the course of a few hours, the failure to pass the economic rescue plan in the House led to the single largest decline of the stock market in two decades. Over one trillion dollars of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed. And it wasn’t just the wealth of a few CEOs or Wall Street executives. The 401Ks and retirement accounts that millions count on for their family’s future are now smaller. The state pension funds of teachers and government employees lost billions upon billions of dollars. Hardworking Americans who invested their nest egg to watch it grow are now watching it disappear.

But while the decline of the stock market is devastating, the consequences of the credit crisis that caused it will be even worse if we do not act and act immediately.

Because of the housing crisis, we are now in a very dangerous situation where financial institutions across this country are afraid to lend money. If all that meant was the failure of a few big banks on Wall Street, it would be one thing.

But that’s not what it means. What it means is that if we do not act, it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. What it means is that businesses won’t be able to get the loans they need to open new factories, or hire more workers, or make payroll for the workers they have. Thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.
Read more...

Let me be perfectly clear. The fact that we are in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This was not the actions of a few bad apples.

This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, and lobbyists who bought their way into our government. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. And this crisis is the final verdict on this failed philosophy – a philosophy that we cannot afford to continue.

But while there is plenty of blame to go around and many in Washington and on Wall Street who deserve it, all of us now have a responsibility to solve this crisis because it affects the financial well-being of every single American. There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out.

I know that many of you are feeling anxiety right now – about your jobs, about your homes, about your life savings. But I also know this – I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. With resolve. With confidence. With that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now.

This is not just a Wall Street crisis – it’s an American crisis, and it’s the American economy that needs this rescue plan. I understand why people would be skeptical when this President asks for a blank check to solve a problem. I’ve spent most of my time in Washington being skeptical of this Administration, and this time was no different. That’s why over a week ago, I demanded that this plan include specific proposals to protect the American taxpayer – protections that the Administration eventually agreed to, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

First, I said we needed an independent board to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.

Second, I said that we cannot help banks on Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan too.

Third, I said that I would not allow this plan to become a welfare program for the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess.

And finally, I said that if American taxpayers are financing this solution, then you should be treated like investors – you should get every penny of your tax dollars back once this economy recovers.

This last part is important, because it’s been the most misunderstood and poorly communicated part of this plan. This is not a plan to just hand over $700 billion of your money to a few banks. If this is managed correctly, we will hopefully get most or all of our money back, or possibly even turn a profit on the government’s investment – every penny of which will go directly back to you, the investor.

The rescue plan now includes those four principles. It also includes a proposal I made yesterday morning to expand federal deposit insurance for families and small businesses across America who have invested their money in our banks. This will boost small businesses, make our banking system more secure, and help restore confidence by reassuring families that their money is safe.

Even with all these taxpayer protections, this plan is not perfect. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have legitimate concerns about it. I know many Americans share those concerns. But it is clear that this is what we must do right now to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe. That’s why I’ve been reaching out to leaders in both parties to do whatever I can to help pass this plan. That’s why I’ll be flying back to Washington today to cast my vote to safeguard the American economy. And to the Democrats and Republicans who have opposed this plan, I say – step up to the plate and do what’s right for the country, because the time to act is now.

I know many Americans are wondering what happens next. Passing this bill will not be the end of our work to strengthen our economy – it’s just the beginning of a long, hard road ahead. So let me tell you exactly how I’ll move forward as President.

From the moment I take office, my top priority will be to do everything I can to make sure that your tax dollars are protected. I will demand a full review of this financial rescue plan to make sure that it is working for you. If you – the American taxpayer – are not getting your money back, then we will change how this program is being managed. If need be, we will send new legislation to Congress to make sure that taxpayers are protected in line with the principles that I have put forward. You should expect nothing less from Washington.

If we do have losses, I’ve proposed a Financial Stability Fee on the financial services industry so Wall Street foots the bill – not the American taxpayer. And as I modernize the financial system to create new rules of the road to prevent another crisis, we will continue this fee to build up a reserve so that if this happens again, it will be the money contributed by banks that’s put at risk.

This will only work if there is real enforcement and real accountability. And that starts with presidential leadership. So let me be very clear: when I am President, financial institutions will do their part and pay their share, and American taxpayers will never again have to put their money on the line to pay for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street. That’s a pledge that I’ll make to you today, and it’s one that I’ll keep as President of the United States.

Accountability must start with this rescue plan, but it cannot end there. Across Wisconsin – and across the country – families are sitting down at the kitchen table and making hard choices. You’re planning for your future in tough times. You’re squeezing just a little bit more out of next month’s paycheck so you can pay next month’s bills. It’s time for Washington to do the same.

We cannot mortgage our children’s future on a mountain of debt. It’s time to put an end to the run-away spending and the record deficits – it’s not how you would run your family budget, and it must not be how Washington handles your tax dollars. It’s time to return to the fiscal responsibility and pay as you go budgeting that we had in the 1990s. Many in Congress have been fighting for these commonsense principles, and I will be a President who supports them and makes sure they succeed. That’s why I’m not going to stand here and simply tell you what I’m going to spend – I’m going to start by telling you how we’re going to save when I am President.

I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate the programs that don’t work and aren’t needed. We should start by ending a war in Iraq that is costing us $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. We should stop sending $15 billion a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare, and go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. We need to stop sending three billion a year to banks that provide student loans the government could provide for less. And we can end the hundreds of millions a year in subsidies to agribusiness that can survive just fine without your tax dollars, and use some of the money to help struggling family farmers. That’s what I’ll do as President.

And we can’t stop there. We lose $100 billion every year because corporations set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America. In the Senate, I worked across the aisle to crack down on these schemes. And as President, I will shut down those offshore tax havens and all those corporate loopholes once and for all. You shouldn’t have to pay higher taxes because some big corporation cut corners to avoid paying theirs. All of us have a responsibility to pay our fair share. That’s accountability. And that’s what we’ll have when I’m President.

As for the programs we do need, I will make them work better and cost less. I will create a High-Performance Team of experts that evaluates every agency and every office based on how well they’re serving the American taxpayer. I will save billions of dollars by cutting private contractors and improving management and oversight of the hundreds of billions of dollars our government spends on contracts. And I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all – the days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House.

Make no mistake: we need to end an era in Washington where accountability has been absent, oversight has been overlooked, and your tax dollars have been turned over to wealthy CEOs and well-connected corporations. You need leadership that you can trust to work for you – not for the special interests who have had their thumb on the scale. And together, we will tell the Washington lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded this campaign, they won’t work in my White House, and they won’t drown out the voices of the American people when I’m President.

Now, people have asked whether the size of this rescue plan, together with the weakening economy, means that the next President will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. The answer is yes and no. With less money flowing into the Treasury, some useful programs or policies that I’ve proposed on the campaign trail may need to be delayed.

But there are certain investments in our future that we cannot delay precisely because our economy is in turmoil. You can always put off giving your house a new paint job or renovating your kitchen, but when your roof is crumbling or your heater goes, you realize that these are long-term investments you need to make right away.

The same is true of our economy. We cannot wait to help Americans keep up with rising costs and shrinking paychecks by giving our workers a middle-class tax cut. We cannot wait to relieve the burden of crushing health care costs. We cannot wait to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our roads and our bridges and investing in the renewable sources of energy that will stop us from sending $700 billion a year to tyrants and dictators for their oil. And we cannot wait to educate the next generation of Americans with the skills and knowledge they need to compete with any workers, anywhere in the world. Those are the priorities we cannot delay.

As soon as we pass this rescue plan, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to rescue families on Main Street who are struggling to pay their bills and keep their jobs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need to pass an economic stimulus plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases. A plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and cannot find new ones.

Beyond this stimulus, we need an economic agenda to restore opportunity for Americans and prosperity to America. So that we’re not borrowing debt from China and buying oil from Saudi Arabia. So that the jobs of the future don’t go to better-educated workers in India and the cars of the future aren’t made in Japan. So that we can leave a legacy of greater opportunity to our children and their children. That is how we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more prosperous than we were before, and that is what I will do as President of the United States.

I will begin by reforming our tax code so that it doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups, so that we can grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all workers and their families. And if you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will reform our health care system to relieve families, businesses, and the entire economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

To create new jobs, I’ll invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, schools, and bridges. We’ll rebuild our outdated electricity grid and build new broadband lines to connect America. And I’ll create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here the United States. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced

And if I am President, I will meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in the place the common-sense rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again.

These are the changes and reforms that we need. Bottom-up growth that will create opportunity for every American. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Common-sense regulations for our financial system that will prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.

I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans – and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you’re cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you’re disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask you to believe – believe in this country and your ability to change it. I ask you what has been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout history – what was asked at the beginning of the greatest financial crisis this nation ever endured. In his first fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt told his fellow Americans that “..there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. Let us unite in banishing fear. Together, we cannot fail.”

America, together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents that said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change - if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you - we will win Wisconsin, we will win this election, and we will change America together. Thank you La Crosse, God bless you, and may God bless America.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Barack Obama's speech in Reno, NV

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)
Reno, Nevada
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008


This morning – like so many others over the last few months – we woke up to some very sobering news about our economy. Over the course of a few hours, the failure to pass the economic rescue plan in Washington led to the single largest decline of the stock market in two decades.

Over one trillion dollars of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed on Monday. And it wasn’t just the wealth of a few CEOs or Wall Street executives. The 401Ks and retirement accounts that millions count on for their family’s future are now smaller. The state pension funds of teachers and government employees lost billions upon billions of dollars. Hardworking Americans who invested their nest egg to watch it grow are now watching it disappear.

But while the decline of the stock market is devastating, the consequences of the credit crisis that caused it will be even worse if we do not act and act immediately.
Read more...

Because of the housing crisis, we are now in a very dangerous situation where financial institutions across this country are afraid to lend money. If all that meant was the failure of a few big banks on Wall Street, it would be one thing.

But that’s not what it means. What it means is that if we do not act, it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. What it means is that businesses won’t be able to get the loans they need to open new factories, or hire more workers, or make payroll for the workers they have. What it means is that thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.

Let me be perfectly clear. The fact that we are in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This was not the actions of a few bad apples.

This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, and lobbyists who bought their way into our government. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. And this economic catastrophe is the final verdict on this failed philosophy – a philosophy that we cannot afford to continue.

But while there is plenty of blame to go around and many in Washington and on Wall Street who deserve it, all of us now have a responsibility to solve this crisis because it affects the financial well-being of every single American. There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out.

This is one of those defining moments when the American people are looking to Washington for leadership. It is not a time for politics. It is not a time for partisanship. It is not a time to figure out how to take credit or where to lay blame. It is not a time for politicians to concern themselves with the next election. It is a time for all of us to concern ourselves with the future of the country we love. This is a time for action.

I know that many of you are feeling anxiety right now – about your jobs, about your homes, about your life savings. But I also know this – I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. With resolve. With confidence. With that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now.

This is no longer just a Wall Street crisis – it’s an American crisis, and it’s the American economy that needs this rescue plan. I understand why people would be skeptical when this President asks for a blank check to solve a problem. I’ve spent most of my time in Washington being skeptical of this Administration, and this time was no different. That’s why over a week ago, I demanded that this plan include specific proposals to protect American taxpayer – protections that the Administration eventually agreed to, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

First, I said we needed an independent board to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.

Second, I said that we cannot help banks on Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan too.

Third, I said that I would not allow this plan to become a welfare program for the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess.

And finally, I said that if American taxpayers are financing this solution, then you should be treated like investors – you should get every penny of your tax dollars back once this economy recovers.

This last part is important, because it’s been the most misunderstood and poorly communicated aspect of this entire plan. This is not a plan to just hand over $700 billion of your money to a few banks on Wall Street. If this is executed the right way, then the government will temporarily purchase the bad assets of our financial institutions so that they can start lending again, and then sell those assets once the markets settle down and the economy recovers. If this is managed correctly, we will hopefully get most or all of our money back, or possibly even turn a profit on the government’s investment – every penny of which will go directly back to you, the investor. And if we do have losses, I’ve proposed to institute a Financial Stability Fee on the entire financial services industry so that Wall Street foots the bill – not the American taxpayer. I’ve also said that if I’m President, I will review the entire plan on the day I take office to make sure that it is working to save our economy and that you are getting your money back.

Even with all these taxpayer protections, I know that this plan is not perfect or fool-proof. No matter how well we manage the government’s investments under this plan, we are still putting taxpayer dollars at risk. I know that there are Democrats and Republicans in Congress who have legitimate concerns about this, and I know there are many Americans who share those concerns.

But I also know that we can’t afford not to act. Both parties are close to accepting this plan, and over the next few hours and days, we should seek out any new ideas that might get this done. This morning, I proposed one such idea that might increase bipartisan support for this plan and shore up our economy at the same time: expanding federal deposit insurance for families and small businesses across America who have invested their money in our banks.

The majority of American families should rest assured that the deposits they have in our banks of up to $100,000 are still guaranteed by the federal government. That guarantee is more than adequate for most families, but it is insufficient for many small businesses to meet their payroll, buy their supplies, and create new jobs. The current insurance limit of $100,000 was set 28 years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation. I’ve proposed raising the FDIC limit to $250,000 – a step that would boost small businesses, make our banking system more secure, and help restore confidence by reassuring families that their money is safe.

That’s one idea. If there are others that can help shore up support for this plan and shore up our economy, I encourage Democrats and Republicans to offer them. But we must act and we must act now. We cannot have another day like yesterday. We cannot risk another week or another month where American businesses are afraid to extend credit and lend money. That is not an option for this country.

For the rest of today and as long as it takes, I will continue to reach out to leaders in both parties and do whatever I can to help pass a rescue plan. To the Democrats and Republicans who opposed this plan yesterday, I say – step up to the plate and do what’s right for this country. And to all Americans, I say this – if I am President of the United States, this rescue plan will not be the end of what we do to strengthen this economy – it will only be the beginning.

People have asked whether the size of this plan, together with the weakening economy, means that the next President will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. The answer is both yes and no. With less money flowing into the Treasury, it is likely that some useful programs or policies that I’ve proposed on the campaign trail may need to be delayed. And I’ve said that as President, I will go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.

But there are certain investments in our future that we cannot delay precisely because our economy is in turmoil. You can always put off giving your house a new paint job or renovating your kitchen, but when your roof is crumbling or your heater goes, you realize that these are long-term investments you need to make right away.

The same is true of our economy. We cannot wait to help Americans keep up with rising costs and shrinking paychecks by giving our workers a middle-class tax cut. We cannot wait to relieve the burden of crushing health care costs on families, businesses, and our entire economy. We cannot wait to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our roads and our bridges and investing in the renewable sources of energy that will stop us from sending $700 billion a year to tyrants and dictators for their oil. And we cannot wait to educate the next generation of Americans with the skills and knowledge they need to compete with any workers, anywhere in the world. Those are the priorities we cannot delay.

As soon as we pass this rescue plan, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to rescue the families on Main Street who are struggling every day to pay their bills and keep their jobs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need to pass an economic stimulus plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases. A plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and cannot find new ones.

Beyond this immediate stimulus that I’ve called on both parties and the President to pass, we need an economic agenda to restore opportunity for Americans and prosperity to America. We need policies that will grow this economy from Main Street to Wall Street and everywhere in between – so that the 21st century is another American century. So that we’re not borrowing debt from China and buying oil from Saudi Arabia. So that the jobs of the future don’t go to better-educated workers in India and the cars of the future aren’t made in Japan. So that we can leave a legacy of greater opportunity to our children and their children. That is how we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more prosperous than we were before, and that is what I will do as President of the United States.

I will begin by reforming our tax code so that it doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups, so that we can grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all workers and their families. And if you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will reform our health care system to relieve families, businesses, and the entire economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

To create new jobs, I’ll invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, schools, and bridges. We’ll rebuild our outdated electricity grid and build new broadband lines to connect America. And I’ll create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here the United States of America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced

And if I am President, I will meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in the place the common-sense rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again. And I will take power away from the corporate lobbyists who think they can stand in the way of these reforms. I’ve done it in Illinois, I’ve done it Washington, and I will do it again as President.

These are the changes and reforms that we need. Bottom-up growth that will create opportunity for every American. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Common-sense regulations for our financial system that will prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.

I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans – and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

I believe that this is one of those moments. I know that many of you are anxious about your future and the future of this country. I realize that you are cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you are disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask you to believe – believe in this country and your ability to change it. I ask you what has been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history – what was asked at the beginning of the greatest financial crisis this nation has ever endured. In his first fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt told his fellow Americans that “..there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. Let us unite in banishing fear. Together, we cannot fail.”

America, together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves. Now is the time to make them proud of what we did here. Let’s give our children the future they deserve, and let’s act with confidence and courage to show the world that at this moment, in this election, the United States of America is still the last, best hope of Earth. Thank you Nevada, God bless you, and may God bless America.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Barack Obama's speech in Westminster, Colorado

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)
Westminster, Colorado
Monday, September 29th, 2008


We meet here at a time of great uncertainty for America. The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a financial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. They said they wanted to let the market run free but they let it run wild, and they trampled our American values of fairness, balance, and responsibility to one another. Now, because of speculators who gamed the system and regulators who looked the other way, your jobs, your life savings, and the stability of our entire economy are at risk.

We have been left with no good options. And today, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have agreed on an emergency rescue plan that is our best and only way to prevent an economic catastrophe.
Read more...

It’s a plan that’s improved a good deal over the last week. This Administration started off by asking for a blank check to solve this problem. I said absolutely not. I said it was unacceptable to expect the American people to hand this Administration or any Administration a $700 billion check with no conditions and no oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess. If the American people are being asked to help solve this crisis, then you have a right to make sure that your tax dollars are protected.

And so I laid out a few a conditions for Washington.
I said we needed an independent board to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.

I said that if American taxpayers are financing this solution, then you should be treated like investors – you should get every penny of your tax dollars back once this economy recovers, and Wall Street should foot the bill.

I said that we cannot and will not simply bailout Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan too.

And finally, I said that I would not allow this plan to become a welfare program for the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess.

Thanks to the hard work of Democrats and Republicans, the proposal we have today includes these taxpayer protections. And if I am President, I will review the entire plan on the day I take office to make sure that it is working to save our economy and that you get your money back.

But let me be absolutely clear about one thing. At a time like this – a time when 600,000 workers have lost their jobs since January; when home values are falling and paychecks are flat; when it’s never been harder to save or retire; to buy gas or groceries; at a time when Americans are working so much harder for so much less, the fact that you are being called upon to help clean up Wall Street’s mess is an outrage. It is an outrage that we’re spending this money when we could be investing in affordable health care, or renewable energy, or better schools for our children. It is an outrage that we are in this mess and we are here to make sure that it never happens again.

We did not arrive at this moment by some accident of history. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This was not just a few bad apples on Wall Street. This crisis is a direct result of a philosophy that the folks running Washington have been following for decades. It’s a philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise; a philosophy that lets lobbyists shred consumer protections and put the needs of special interests ahead of working people. And what we have seen over the last few weeks is the final verdict on this failed philosophy. It is time to turn the page.

That is the choice in this election. Because Senator McCain has followed this philosophy for twenty-six years in Washington and now he’s running to give us another four. He’s fought against common-sense regulations for decades, he’s called for less regulation twenty times just this year, and he said in a recent interview that he thought de-regulation has actually helped grow our economy. Senator, what economy are you talking about?

At a time when we’re putting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, Senator McCain still wants to spend $200 billion on tax breaks for the biggest corporations in America. He wants to give a $700,000 tax break to the average Fortune 500 CEO, but not one dime of relief to more than 100 million middle-class Americans. He likes to talk about how he’ll take on the corporate lobbyists in Washington, but he put seven of them in charge of his campaign. And if you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect my opponent just to put themselves out of business, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.

You see, Senator McCain just doesn’t get it – he doesn’t get that this crisis on Wall Street hit Main Street a long time ago. That’s why his first response to the greatest fiscal meltdown in generations was to say that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong,” and why he didn’t say the words “middle-class” once in an entire 90-minute debate.

I read the other day that Senator McCain likes to gamble. He likes to roll those dice. And that's ok. I enjoy a little friendly game of poker myself every now and then.

But one thing I know is this – we can't afford to gamble on four more years of the same disastrous economic policies we've had for the last eight.

I know that when Senator McCain says he wants to bring the same kind of deregulation to our health care system that he helped bring to our banking system – his words – well, that's a bet we can't afford. We can't afford to roll the dice by privatizing Social Security, and wagering the nest egg of millions of Americans on Wall Street. We can't afford to gamble on more of the same trickle down philosophy that showers tax breaks on big corporations and the wealthiest few. We've tried that. It doesn't work.

With our economy at risk, and our future in the balance, the greatest risk in this election is to repeat the same mistakes of the past. We can’t take a chance on the same losing game.

We need a President who will change this economy so that it finally works for your family. We need a President who will fight for the middle class every single day, and that’s exactly what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States.

We have a different way of measuring the fundamentals of our economy. We know that the fundamentals that we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great –that America is a place where you can make it if you try; that everyone should have the chance to live their dreams.

I know I wouldn’t be standing here today without that promise. And I know that’s the promise we must keep once more.

When I talk to those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country.

And when I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep the promise of America alive as President of the United States.

That’s the change we need right now. And that’s the kind of change I’ll bring to Washington when I’m President of the United States of America.

I will fight every day of this campaign and every day of my presidency to make sure a crisis like this never, ever happens again. That means taking on the lobbyists and special interests in Washington. That means taking on the greed and corruption on Wall Street. That means putting in place the rules of the road and common-sense regulations for our finance system that I’ve been calling for since last March – regulations that would make our markets open, honest, and transparent. That’s the change we need.

And now that we’re fixing the mess on Wall Street, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to help families on Main Street. We don’t just need a plan for bankers and investors, we need a plan for autoworkers and teachers and small business owners. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: we need to pass an economic stimulus plan right now for working families – a plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases. A plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and cannot find new ones. That’s the change we need.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

As President, I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups – that’s how we’ll grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. My opponent doesn’t want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime. In fact, I offer three times the tax relief for middle-class families as Senator McCain does – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

I will also create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here the United States of America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced

And now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

This is the change we need – the kind of bottom up growth and innovation that will advance the American economy by advancing the dreams of all Americans.

Times are hard. I will not pretend that the change we need will come without cost – though I have presented how we can achieve these changes in a fiscally responsible way. I know that we'll have to overcome our doubts and divisions and the determined opposition of powerful special interests before we can truly reform a broken economy and advance opportunity.

But I am running for President because we simply cannot afford four more years of an economic philosophy that works for Wall Street instead of Main Street, and ends up devastating both.

I don’t want to wake up in four years to find that more Americans fell out of the middle-class, and more families lost their savings. I don’t want to see that our country failed to invest in our ability to compete, our children’s future was mortgaged on another mountain of debt, and our financial markets failed to find a firmer footing.

At this defining moment, we have the chance to finally stand up and say: enough is enough!

We can do this because Americans have done this before. Time and again, we’ve battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success. That’s why our economy hasn’t just been the world’s greatest wealth generator – it’s bound America together, it’s created jobs, and it’s made the dream of opportunity a reality for generation after generation of Americans.

Some of us had grandparents or parents that said maybe I can’t go to college but my child can; maybe I can’t have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Colorado, we will win this election, and we will change America together.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama's speech from Dunedin, Florida

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery
Dunedin, Florida
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We meet here at a time of great uncertainty for America. The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a financial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. They said they wanted to let the market run free but they let it run wild, and in doing so, they trampled our core values of fairness, balance, and responsibility to one another.

Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling. But for so many Americans, it isn’t really news at all.

600,000 workers have lost their jobs since January. Home values are falling. Your paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to. It’s never been harder to save or retire; to buy gas or groceries; and if you put it on a credit card, they’ve probably raised your rates. In so many cities and towns across America, it feels as if the dream that so many generations have fought for is slowly slipping away.
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So I know these are difficult days. But here’s what I also know. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because that’s what we’ve always done as Americans. Our nation has faced difficult times before. And at each of those moments, we’ve risen to meet the challenge because we’ve never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us.

There are many to blame for causing the crisis we are in, and that starts with the speculators on Wall Street who gamed the system and the regulators in Washington who looked the other way. But now that we’re here, every American has a stake in solving this crisis and saving our financial system from collapse. Because if we don’t act, your jobs, your life savings, and your economic security will be put at risk.

The clock is ticking on this crisis. We have to act swiftly, but we also have to get it right. That means everyone – Republicans and Democrats; the White House and Congress – must work together to come up with a solution that protects American taxpayers and our economy without rewarding those whose greed helped bring us to this point.

So we need to act and act now. This cannot fall victim to the usual partisan politics or special-interest lobbying. But it also can’t be negotiated by the Administration with the same my-way-or-the-highway mentality that is all too familiar.

This Administration started off by asking for a blank check to solve this problem. To them, I say no. It is unacceptable to expect the American people to hand this Administration or any Administration a $700 billion check with no conditions and no oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess. If the American people are being asked to pay for the solution to this crisis, then you have a right to make sure that your tax dollars are protected. That’s why I’ve laid out a few a conditions for Washington.

First, we need to set up an independent board, selected by Democrats and Republicans, to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.

Second, if American taxpayers are financing this solution, you should be treated like investors. That means that Wall Street and Washington should give you every penny of your money back once this economy recovers.

Third, we cannot and will not simply bailout Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan too.

Finally – and this one is important – the American people should not be spending one dime to reward the same Wall Street CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess. There has been talk that some CEOs may refuse to cooperate with this plan if they have to give up their multi-million-dollar salaries. I cannot imagine a position more selfish and greedy at a time of national crisis. So I would like to speak directly to those CEOs right now: Do not make that mistake. The enormous rewards you have reaped come with serious responsibilities to your workers and the American people, and we expect and demand that you live up to those responsibility. I will not allow this plan to become a welfare program for Wall Street executives.

Now, in the last few days, my opponent has decided to start talking tough about CEO pay. He’s suddenly a hard-charging populist. And that’s all well and good. But I sure wish he was talking the same way over a year ago, when I introduced a bill that would’ve helped stop the multi-million-dollar bonus packages that CEOs grab on their way out the door. Because he opposed that idea. I sure wish he joined me when I blew the whistle on the fired CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who tried to walk away with golden parachutes. I sure wish he felt the same outrage about CEO pay when his top economic advisor – who he calls a ‘role model’ – walked away with a $42 million package after being fired from Hewlett Packard. I sure wish he would change his current plan to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills. That’s what I’d like to hear.

You see, the John McCain you’ve heard from over the last few days is a lot different than the John McCain who’s been in Washington for the last twenty-six years. He talks about getting tough on Wall Street now, but he’s been against the common-sense rules and regulations that could’ve stopped this mess for decades. He says he’ll take on the corporate lobbyists, but he put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign. And if you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect my opponent just to put themselves out of business, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.

The truth is, when my opponent first reacted to this crisis by saying that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, he didn’t just make a mistake. He revealed an out-of-touch philosophy he’s followed for decades in Washington – the idea that if we give more and more to those with the most, prosperity will trickle down to everyone else; the idea that no harm will be done if we let lobbyists shred consumer protections and fight against every regulation as unwise or unnecessary.

Well what we have seen over the last few weeks is nothing less than the final verdict on this failed philosophy. And I am running for President of the United States because the dreams of the American people cannot be endangered anymore.

We have a different way of measuring the fundamentals of our economy. We know that the fundamentals that we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great –that America is a place where you can make it if you try; that everyone should have the chance to live their dreams.

I know I wouldn’t be standing here today without that promise. And I know that’s the promise we must keep once more.

When I talk to those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country.

And when I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep the promise of America alive as President of the United States.

Unlike Senator McCain, it didn’t take a crisis on Wall Street for me to understand that folks are hurting out on Main Street.

It was two years ago that I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse. It was one year ago that I called on our Treasury Secretary and our Fed Chairman to bring every stakeholder together and find a solution to the subprime mortgage meltdown before it got worse. In March, when John McCain was saying “I’m always for less regulation,” I called for a new, 21st century regulatory framework to restore accountability, transparency, and trust in our financial markets.

I believe that our free market has been the engine of America’s great progress. It’s a market that has created a prosperity that is the envy of the world, and rewarded the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon of science, and technology, and discovery. But the American economy has worked in large part because we have guided the market’s invisible hand with a higher principle – that America prospers when all Americans can prosper.

That’s the change we need right now. And that’s the kind of change I’ll bring to Washington when I’m President of the United States of America.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups – that’s how we’ll grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. My opponent doesn’t want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime. In fact, I offer three times the tax relief for middle-class families as Senator McCain does – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

I will also create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced

And now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

This is the change we need – the kind of bottom up growth and innovation that will advance the American economy by advancing the dreams of all Americans.

Times are hard. I will not pretend that the change we need will come without cost – though I have presented how we can achieve these changes in a fiscally responsible way. I know that we'll have to overcome our doubts and divisions and the determined opposition of powerful special interests before we can truly reform a broken economy and advance opportunity.

But I am running for President because we simply cannot afford four more years of an economic philosophy that works for Wall Street instead of Main Street, and ends up devastating both.

I don’t want to wake up in four years to find that more Americans fell out of the middle-class, and more families lost their savings. I don’t want to see that our country failed to invest in our ability to compete, our children’s future was mortgaged on another mountain of debt, and our financial markets failed to find a firmer footing.

At this defining moment, we have the chance to finally stand up and say: enough is enough!

We can do this because Americans have done this before. Time and again, we’ve battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success. That’s why our economy hasn’t just been the world’s greatest wealth generator – it’s bound America together, it’s created jobs, and it’s made the dream of opportunity a reality for generation after generation of Americans.

Now it falls to us. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Florida, we will win this election, and we will change America together.