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.
Read more...

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.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Barack Obama speech from Green Bay, WI

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
The Change We Need in Washington
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Green Bay, Wisconsin


The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a perilous moment. They said they wanted to let the market run free but instead they let it run wild, and in doing so, they tramped our core values of fairness, balance, and responsibility to one another. As a result, we are facing a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression. As a result, your jobs, your savings, and your economic security are now at risk.

This week, we must work quickly, in a bipartisan fashion, to resolve this crisis and avert an even broader economic catastrophe. And as we do act, Washington must recognize that true economic recovery requires addressing not just the crisis on Wall Street, but the crisis on Main Street that so many of you have been feeling in your own lives long before the news of last week. We need a plan that helps families stay in their homes, and workers keep their jobs; a plan that gives hardworking Americans relief instead of using taxpayer dollars to reward CEOs on Wall Street. And we cannot give a blank check to Washington with no oversight and accountability when no oversight and accountability is what got us into this mess in the first place.
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But no matter what solution we finally decide on this week, it is absolutely imperative that we get to work immediately on reforming the broken politics and the broken government that allowed this to crisis to happen in the first place.

We did not arrive at this moment by some accident of history. We are in this mess because of a bankrupt philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to the rest of us.

We’re here because for too long, the doors of Washington have been thrown open to an army of lobbyists and special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play – who have shredded consumer protections, fought against common-sense regulations and rules of the road, and distorted our economy so that it works for them instead of you.

We are here because an ethic of irresponsibility has swept through our government, leaving politicians with the belief that they can waste billions and billions of your money on no-bid contracts for friends and contributors, slip pork projects into bills during the dead of night, and spend billions on corporate tax breaks we can’t afford and old programs that we don’t need.

And today, even as Congress debates an emergency plan to save our economy from the verge of collapse, there are reports that lobbyists and CEOs are already lining up to figure out what’s in it for them; to find out how they can get theirs.

Green Bay, enough is enough.

I began this race for the presidency as the one candidate who hasn’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know this – if we want a government that puts the needs of middle-class families before the whims of lobbyists and politicians; if we want to grow this economy and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again, then the ways of Washington must change. We must reform our lobbyist-driven politics. We must reform the waste and abuse in our government. We must reform the rules of the road that let Wall Street run wild and stuck Main Street with the bill. We must change Washington now.

This has been our message from the day we began this campaign. Our opponent, on the other hand, has spent much of the last nineteen months arguing that what qualifies him to be President are the decades he’s spent in Washington.

But with forty-two days left, he’s had a sudden change of heart. An election-time conversion. After twenty-six years in Washington – years where he voted for the same trickle-down, on-your-own policies that got us into this mess – he now claims that he’s the one who can clean it up.

Well let’s be clear. When it comes to regulatory reform, Senator McCain has fought time and time again against the common-sense rules of the road that could’ve prevented this crisis. His economic plan was written by Phil Gramm, the architect in the US Senate of the de-regulatory steps that helped cause this mess. Even knowing what we know now, Senator McCain said in an interview just last night that de-regulation actually helped grow our economy. Well that might be true for the profits of a few CEOs, but it’s certainly not true for America’s prosperity.

When it comes to taking on the special interests, my opponent sounds like Fighting Bob Lafollette. But he acts like a guy who’s spent three decades of his life in Washington. He’s put seven of the biggest corporate lobbyists in charge of his campaign – lobbyists for the insurance industry and the oil industry; for foreign governments and Freddie and Fannie Mac, who paid his campaign manager nearly $2 million to defend them against stricter regulations. I guess they got their money’s worth.

And rest assured, those lobbyists who are working day and night to elect my opponent aren’t doing it to put themselves out of business.

When it comes to reforming government waste and spending, Senator McCain talks a lot about earmarks. And while he deserves credit for not requesting many of those earmarks during his time in Congress, what he never mentions is that he voted for 144 billion dollars worth in just six years; or that he voted for four out of the five Bush budgets that have been filled with special interests giveaways and left us with the largest deficit in history.

The truth is, our earmark system in Washington is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform – which is why I didn’t request a single earmark last year, why I’ve released all my previous requests for the public to see, and why I’ve pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I am President.

But let’s not pretend, as John McCain does, that proposing the elimination of 18 billion dollars of earmarks will make up for the more than 300 billion additional dollars he wants to spend on tax breaks for big corporations and multi-millionaires that don’t need them and weren’t asking for them – more than 300 billion dollars at a time when taxpayers are being asked to help finance two wars and a historic financial bailout. That’s some pretty creative math, but it doesn’t add up to is change. And change in Washington is what we need right now.

This change will not be easy. It will require reforming our politics by taking power away from the lobbyists who kill good ideas and good plans with secret meetings and campaign checks. It will require reforming our government by taking on the spending habits of both parties and going after the tax havens and loopholes that big corporations use to avoid paying their fare share while you pay more. And it will require reforming our out-dated, unfair regulatory system that favors Wall Street over Main Street but has ended up hurting both.

But I am ready to reform our politics because I’ve done it before. I’ve spent my career taking on lobbyists and their money, and I’ve won. When I was a state Senator in Illinois, if you wanted a favor, there was actually a law that let you give campaign cash to politicians for their own personal use. In the State House, they called it business-as-usual. I called it legalized bribery, and while it didn’t make me the most popular guy in Springfield, I put an end to it. I brought Democrats and Republicans together, and we passed the first ethics reform in twenty-five years.

When I got to Washington, Jack Abramoff and his lobbyist pals had engaged in some of the worst corruption since Watergate. I led the fight for reform in my party, and let me tell you – not everyone in my party was too happy about it. When I proposed forcing lobbyists to disclose who they’re raising money from and who in Congress they’re funneling it to, I had a few choice words directed my way on the floor of the Senate. But we got it done, and we banned gifts from lobbyists, and discounted rides on their corporate jets. And I’m the only candidate in this race who can say that Washington lobbyists do not fund my campaign, you do – with donations of $100, and $10, and $5.

I also joined with one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress to end the abuse that allowed no-bid contracts to waste taxpayer dollars instead of using them to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina. And we worked together to put the federal government’s checkbook online – so you can see how and where Washington is spending trillions of dollars of your money.

For years, I have also pushed for reform of the same loose regulations and lax oversight that could’ve prevented the crisis we’re in. 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.

These are the types of reform I will pursue beginning on my very first day in office as President of the United States – political reform, government reform, and regulatory reform.

First, I’ll reform our special interest-driven politics. When I am President, I will start by closing the revolving door in the White House that has allowed people to use their Administration job as a stepping stone to further their lobbying careers.

I’ll make it absolutely clear that working in an Obama Administration is not about serving your former employer, your future employer, or your bank account – it’s about serving your country. When you walk into my administration, you will not be able to work on regulations or contracts directly related to your former employer for two years. And when you leave, you will not be able to lobby my Administration – ever. I will also institute an absolute gift ban so that no registered lobbyist can curry favor with members of my administration based on how much they can spend on a fancy dinner.

I’ll make our government open and transparent so that anyone can ensure that our business is the people’s business. As Justice Louis Brandeis once said, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. As President, I will make it impossible for Congressmen or lobbyists to slip pork-barrel projects or corporate welfare into laws when no one is looking because when I am president, meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. No more secrecy.

When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it. When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we will put as many as possible online for every American to watch. When there is a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get. And we will put every corporate tax break and every pork-barrel project online for every American to see. You will know who asked for them and you can cast your vote accordingly.

The second set of reforms I’ll make will eliminate the waste, fraud, and abuse in our government.

We are facing the largest deficit in history. We are facing the largest government bailout in history. And we are also facing some of the greatest challenges in our history. All of this will cost money – to fix our health care system, and our schools, and build a new energy economy. And the only way we can do all this without leaving our children with an even larger debt is if Washington starts taking responsibility for every dime that it spends.

We can start by ending a war in Iraq that is costing us $10 billion a month when the Iraqi government is sitting on a $79 billion surplus. We should also stop sending fifteen billion dollars 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 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 family farmers who are struggling. I will put an end to this waste when I am President.

I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it’s there. There are some that don’t work like we had hoped – like the Bush Administration’s billion-dollar-a-year reading program that hasn’t improved our children’s reading. And there are some that have been duplicated by other programs that we just need to cut back – like waste at the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank that has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.

I understand there are parts of these programs worth defending and politicians of both parties who will do so. But if we hope to meet the challenges of our time, we must make difficult choices. As President, I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and I will eliminate the programs that don’t work and aren’t needed.

As for the programs we do need, I will make them work better and cost less. I will create a High-Performance Team that evaluates every agency and every office based on how well they’re serving the American taxpayer. We will fire government managers who aren’t getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money, and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

I will also save billions of dollars by cutting private contractors and improving management of the hundreds of billions of dollars our government spends on private contracts, and I will end the abuse of no-bid contracts for good. One employee of a former Halliburton subsidiary actually admitted that he was ordered to put his company’s logo on towels provided to U.S. troops because our government – our tax dollars – would pay for it no matter how much it cost. That is wasteful, that is wrong, and that will end when I am President.

And for all his talk about earmark abuse, what Senator McCain doesn’t mention these days is the corporate abuse of our tax system – abuse that has cost far more than earmarks ever have. In 2003, loopholes and tax breaks allowed 28 major corporations to actually have negative tax liabilities. We lose $100 billion every year because corporations get to set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America. Imagine if you got to do that? There is a building right now in the Cayman Islands that is the address for 18,000 corporations. Well that is either the biggest building in the world or the biggest sham in the world, and I think we know which one it is. I will shut down those offshore tax havens and all those corporate loopholes as President, because 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 putting country first.

Finally, the third set of reforms I will pursue are the updated, common-sense regulations of the financial market that I’ve been calling for since March; rules of the road that will make Wall Street fair, open, and honest; that will ensure a crisis like this can never happen again.

I’ve outlined six principles that such reforms should follow.

First, if you’re a financial institution that can borrow from the government, you should be subject to government oversight and supervision. Taxpayers who have now been called upon to spend nearly a trillion dollars to save our economy from the excesses of Wall Street have every right to expect that financial institutions are not taking excessive risks.

Second, we need to reform requirements on all regulated financial institutions, investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating, and establish transparency requirements that demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders.

Third, we need to streamline our overlapping and competing regulatory agencies that cannot oversee the large and complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape.

Fourth, we need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are. Over the last few years, commercial banks and thrift institutions were subject to guidelines on subprime mortgages that did not apply to mortgage brokers and companies. This regulatory framework failed to protect homeowners, and made no sense for our financial system.

Fifth, we need to crack down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation. We need regulators that actually enforce the rules instead of overlooking them. The SEC should investigate and punish all market manipulation.

Sixth, we must establish a process that identifies systemic risks to the financial system like the crisis that has overtaken our economy. We need a standing financial market advisory group to meet regularly and provide advice to the President, Congress, and regulators on the state of our financial markets and the risks they face. It’s time to anticipate risks before they erupt into a full-blown crisis.

These are the principles that should guide the reforms we need to establish a 21st century regulatory system – a system that recognizes our free market economy has only worked because we have guided the market’s invisible hand with a higher principle – that America prospers when all Americans can prosper.

To restore this prosperity, we must change Washington. We must reform our regulations, our politics, and our government, but we will not be able to make these changes with the same policies, the same lobbyists, or the same Washington culture that allows politicians and special interests to set their own agenda.

That’s exactly what we will get from John McCain. After twenty-six years of being part of this Washington culture, all that he has changed is his slogan for the fall campaign. And the people in charge of that campaign prove that if we elect John McCain, it’s not a team of mavericks we’ll be sending to the White House – it’s a team of lobbyists.

We can’t afford four more years of that kind of politics. We need real change.

It won’t be easy. The kind of change we’re looking for never is. What we are up against is a very powerful, entrenched status quo in Washington who will say anything and do anything and fight with everything they’ve got to keep things just the way are.

But I feel good about our chances, because I’ve got something more powerful than they do: I’ve got you. In this campaign, you have already shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.

Change has always come from places like Wisconsin – the state where the progressive movement was born; where laws were passed to regulate the railroads and insurance companies; laws that protected consumers and the safety of factory workers. It was a movement rooted in a principle that was known as the Wisconsin Idea – the idea that government works best in the hands of the people, not the special interests; that your voices should speak louder than the whispers of lobbyists.

That’s the Wisconsin idea. That’s the America idea. And that’s the kind of government we need right now.

So if you want the next four years in Washington to look just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want to shine a bright light into the backrooms of Washington; if you want to replace the special interests with your interests, if you want a government that costs less and works better for everyday Americans, then I ask you to knock on some doors, and make some calls, and talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will change America together. Thank you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Obama's remarks on Fed/Treasury Plan

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Fed/Treasury Plan
Friday, September 19th, 2008
Miami, Florida


We are facing one of the most serious financial crises in this nation’s history. The events of the last week – from the failure of Lehman to the bailout of AIG to the continued volatility of the market – have not just threatened the trading floors and high-rises of Wall Street, but the stability and security of our entire global economy. Across this country, Americans are worried about whether they can make their mortgage payments, or keep their jobs, or ensure that their retirement is secure. Truly, we are all in this together.

Our government and the Federal Reserve have already taken unprecedented action to prevent a deepening of this crisis that could jeopardize the life savings and well-being of millions of Americans. But it is now clear that even bolder and more decisive action is necessary.

In recent years, I have outlined plans that would have helped prevent the problems we now face, and yesterday I proposed the outlines of a plan that would establish a more stable and permanent solution to strengthen our financial system. Today, I fully support the effort of Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to work in a bipartisan spirit with Congress to find this kind of solution.
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What we’re looking at right now is to provide the Treasury and the Federal Reserve with as broad authority as necessary to stabilize markets and maintain credit. We need a more institutional response to create a system that can manage some of the underlying problems with bad mortgages, help homeowners stay in their homes, protect the retirement and savings of working Americans.

In the coming days, I will more closely examine the details of the Treasury and Fed proposal, and as I do, I’ll work to ensure that it provides an effective emergency response by including four basic principles that my economic advisors and I just discussed this morning.

First, we cannot only have a plan for Wall Street. We must also help Main Street as well. I’m glad that our government is moving so quickly in addressing the crisis that threatens some of our biggest banks and corporations. But a similar crisis has threatened families, workers and homeowners for months and months and Washington has done far too little to help.

For too long, this Administration has been willing to hit the fast-forward button in helping distressed Wall Street firms while pressing pause when it comes to saving jobs or keeping people in their homes. We already know that the credit crisis that has emerged from our largest financial institutions is becoming a credit crunch for small business owners, homeowners, and students seeking loans in big cities and small towns. Now that American taxpayers are being called on to share in this new burden, we must take equally swift and serious action to help lift the burdens they face every day.

In the same bipartisan spirit that is being shown with regard to the crisis on Wall Street, I ask Senator McCain, President Bush, Republicans and Democrats to join me in supporting an emergency economic plan for working families – a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, spark job creation through repair of our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, help homeowners stay in their homes, and provide retooling assistance for America’s auto industry. John McCain and I can continue to argue about our different economic agendas for next year, but we should come together now to work on what this country urgently needs this year.

The second principle I would like to see in the emerging plan from the Treasury and the Fed is that our approach should be one of mutual responsibility and reciprocity. It must not be designed to reward particular companies or the irresponsible decisions of borrowers or lenders. It must not be designed to enhance the personal gain of CEOs and management. The recklessness of some of these executives has helped cause this mess, even as they walk away with multimillion dollar golden parachutes while taxpayers are left holding the bag. As taxpayers are asked to take extraordinary steps to protect our financial system, it is only appropriate that those who benefit be expected to contribute to the protection of American homeowners and the American economy. Just as support is not designed to payoff egregious executive compensation, it should not reward those who are ruthlessly foreclosing on American families.

Third, this plan must be temporary and coupled with tough new oversight and regulations of our financial institutions, and there must be a clear process to wind down this plan and restore private sector assets into private sector hands after restoring stability to the system. Taxpayers must share in any upside benefit that such stability brings.



Fourth, this plan should be part of a globally coordinated effort with our partners in the G-20. This is a worldwide issue, and while the United States can and will lead in stabilizing the credit markets, we should ask other nations, who share in this crisis, to be part of the solution as well.

One last point. We did not arrive at this crisis by some accident of history. What led us to this point was years and years of a philosophy in Washington and on Wall Street that viewed even common-sense regulation and oversight as unwise and unnecessary; that shredded consumer protections and loosened the rules of the road. CEOs and executives got reckless. Lobbyists got what they wanted. Politicians in both parties looked the other way until it was too late. And it is the American people who have paid the price. The events of this week have rendered a final verdict on that failed philosophy, and it will end if I am President of the United States. We must build upon the ideas I have laid out over the last several years about how to modernize our financial regulation in this country, and establish commonsense rules of the road for our financial system to help restore confidence in our financial system.

Finally, given the gravity of this situation, and based on conversations I have had with both Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke, I will refrain from presenting a more detailed blue-print of how an immediate plan might be structured until I can fully review the details of the plan proposed by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve. It is critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling, and that leaders in both parties work in concert to solve the problem at hand.

I know these are difficult days. And I know there are a lot of families out there right now who are feeling anxiety – about their jobs, about their homes, about their retirement savings. But here’s what I also know. This isn’t a time for fear or panic. This is a time for resolve and for leadership. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. That’s who we are. 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 challenges as one people, and one nation. That is the America we need to be and can be today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama speech from Elko, NV

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery
Tuesday, September 17, 2008
Elko, NV


The events of this week have shown that the stakes in this election couldn’t be clearer.

We are in the midst of the most serious financial crisis in generations. Three of America’s five largest investment banks have failed or been sold off in distress. Our housing market is in shambles, and Monday brought the worst losses on Wall Street since the day after September 11th. Monday brought the worst losses on Wall Street since the day after September 11th, and today we learned that the Fed had to take unprecedented action to prevent the failure of one of the largest insurance companies in the world from causing an even larger crisis.

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While we do not know all the details of the arrangement with AIG, the Federal Reserve must ensure that the plan protects the families that count on insurance. It should bolster our economy's ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills and save their money. It must not bail out the shareholders or management of AIG.

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.

I have every confidence that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. That’s who we are. That’s what we’ve always done as Americans.

But the one thing I do know is this – we can’t steer ourselves out of this crisis by heading in the same, disastrous direction. And that’s what this election is about.

It’s been an interesting week for John McCain. It’s been really interesting to watch him respond to this economic news. His first reaction to this crisis on Monday was to stand up and repeat the line he’s said over and over and over again throughout this campaign – quote – “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

Now, his campaign must’ve realized that probably wasn’t a smart thing to say on the day of a financial meltdown, so they sent him back out a few hours later to clean up his remarks.

But it sounds like he got a little carried away, because yesterday, John McCain actually said that if he’s President, he’ll take on the – quote – “ol’ boys network” in Washington. I am not making this up. This is someone who’s been in Congress for twenty-six years – who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign – and now he tells us that he’s the one who will take on the ol’ boy network. The ol’ boy network? In the McCain campaign, that’s called a staff meeting.

John McCain went on to say how angry he is at the greedy corporate interests on Wall Street. He’s so angry he wants to punish them with $200 billion in tax cuts. And if they’re not careful, he’ll give them even more tax cuts for shipping our jobs overseas.

I mean, where is he getting these lines? The lobbyists running his campaign? Maybe it’s Phil Gramm – the man who was the architect of the de-regulation in Washington that helped cause the mess on Wall Street, who also happens to be the architect of John McCain’s economic plan and one of his chief advisors. You remember Phil Gramm – he’s the guy who said that we’re just going through a “mental recession;” who called the United States of America a “nation of whiners.”

And then yesterday, John McCain’s big solution to the crisis we’re facing is – get ready for it – a commission. That’s Washington-speak for “we’ll get back to you later.” Folks, we don’t need a commission to figure out what happened. We know what happened. Too many in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store. CEOs got greedy. Lobbyists got their way. Politicians sat on their hands until it was too late. We don’t need a commission to tell us how we got into this mess, we need a President who will lead us out of this mess – and that’s the kind of President I intend to be.

So while he isn’t offering real solutions, he can’t talk enough about how greedy Wall Street is, and how he’s going to take on that ol’ boy network in Washington. At this rate, by the end of the week John McCain will be telling us how he and Phil Gramm and the seven lobbyists are planning to storm the Treasury Department with torches and pitchforks. Come on.

Now, I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for all of the problems we’re facing right now, but I do fault the economic philosophy he’s followed for twenty-six years. It’s a philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise. It’s a philosophy that lets Washington lobbyists shred consumer protections and distort our economy so it works for the special interests instead of working people.

Well let’s be clear: what we’ve seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on this philosophy – a philosophy that has completely failed. And I am running for President of the United States because the dreams of the American people must not be endangered any more. It’s time to put an end to a broken system in Washington that is breaking the American economy. It’s time for change that makes a real difference in your lives.

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 why we’ve put in place rules of the road to make competition fair, and open, and honest. Our capital markets cannot succeed without the public's trust. It’s time to get serious about regulatory oversight, and that’s what I will do as President.

To jumpstart job creation, I’ve also proposed a $50 billion Emergency Economic Plan that would save 1 million jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, repairing our schools, and helping our states and localities avoid damaging budget cuts.

To help people stay in their homes, I will change our bankruptcy laws, and I’ll offer a tax credit to struggling families that will take 10% off your mortgage interest rate. I’ll institute a Home Score system that will help every consumer figure out whether they’ll be able to make their mortgage payments before they buy their house. And I will crack down on predatory lenders with tough new penalties that will treat mortgage fraud like the crime that it is.

But the most important thing I will do as President is restore opportunity for all Americans. To get our economy growing, we need to recapture that fundamental American promise. That if you work hard, you can pay the bills. That if you get sick, you won’t go bankrupt. That your kids can get a good education, and that we can leave a legacy of greater opportunity to future generations.

That’s the change the American people 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. 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 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 ways 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.

This time – this election – is our chance to 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 so that our kids can compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, and make some calls, and talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Nevada, we will win this election, and we will change America together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Barack Obama's speech in Golden, Colorado

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery
Confronting an Economic Crisis
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Golden, Colorado



Over the last few days, we have seen clearly what’s at stake in this election. The news from Wall Street has shaken the American people’s faith in our economy. The situation with Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions is the latest in a wave of crises that have generated tremendous uncertainty about the future of our financial markets. This is a major threat to our economy and its ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills, save for their future, and make their mortgage payments.

Since this turmoil began over a year ago, the housing market has collapsed. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be effectively taken over by the government. Three of America’s five largest investment banks failed or have been sold off in distress. Yesterday, Wall Street suffered its worst losses since just after 9/11. We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations. Yet Senator McCain stood up yesterday and said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong

A few hours later, his campaign sent him back out to clean up his remarks, and he tried to explain himself again this morning by saying that what he meant was that American workers are strong. But we know that Senator McCain meant what he said the first time, because he has said it over and over again throughout this campaign – no fewer than 16 times, according to one independent count.

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Now I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for all of the problems we’re facing, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. Because the truth is, what Senator McCain said yesterday fits with the same economic philosophy that he’s had for 26 years. It’s the philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down. It’s the philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise. It’s a philosophy that lets Washington lobbyists shred consumer protections and distort our economy so it works for the special interests instead of working people.

We’ve had this philosophy for eight years. We know the results. You feel it in your own lives. Jobs have disappeared, and peoples’ life savings have been put at risk. Millions of families face foreclosure, and millions more have seen their home values plummet. The cost of everything from gas to groceries to health care has gone up, while the dream of a college education for our kids and a secure and dignified retirement for our seniors is slipping away. These are the struggles that Americans are facing. This is the pain that has now trickled up.

So let’s be clear: what we’ve seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed. And I am running for President of the United States because the dreams of the American people must not be endangered any more. It’s time to put an end to a broken system in Washington that is breaking the American economy. It’s time for change that makes a real difference in your lives.

If you want to understand the difference between how Senator McCain and I would govern as President, you can start by taking a look at how we’ve responded to this crisis. Because Senator McCain's approach was the same as the Bush Administration’s: support ideological policies that made the crisis more likely; do nothing as the crisis hits; and then scramble as the whole thing collapses. My approach has been to try to prevent this turmoil.

In February of 2006, I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse. A year later, before the crisis hit, I warned Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke about the risks of mounting foreclosures and urged them to bring together all the stakeholders to find solutions to the subprime mortgage meltdown. Senator McCain did nothing.

Last September, I stood up at NASDAQ and said it’s time to realize that we are in this together – that there is no dividing line between Wall Street and Main Street – and warned of a growing loss of trust in our capital markets. Months later, Senator McCain told a newspaper that he’d love to give them a solution to the mortgage crisis, “but” – he said – “I don’t know one.”

In January, I outlined a plan to help revive our faltering economy, which formed the basis for a bipartisan stimulus package that passed the Congress. Senator McCain used the crisis as an excuse to push a so-called stimulus plan that offered another huge and permanent corporate tax cut, including $4 billion for the big oil companies, but no immediate help for workers.

This March, in the wake of the Bear Stearns bailout, I called for a new, 21st century regulatory framework to restore accountability, transparency, and trust in our financial markets. Just a few weeks earlier, Senator McCain made it clear where he stands: “I’m always for less regulation,” he said, and referred to himself as “fundamentally a deregulator.”

This is what happens when you confuse the free market with a free license to let special interests take whatever they can get, however they can get it. This is what happens when you see seven years of incomes falling for the average worker while Wall Street is booming, and declare – as Senator McCain did earlier this year – that we’ve made great progress economically under George Bush. That is how you can reach the conclusion – as late as yesterday – that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

Well, 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.

Americans have always pursued our dreams within a free market that has been the engine of our 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 is why we have put in place rules of the road to make competition fair, and open, and honest.

Too often, over the last quarter century, we have lost this sense of shared prosperity. And this has not happened by accident. It’s because of decisions made in boardrooms, on trading floors and in Washington. We failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both.

Let me be clear: the American economy does not stand still, and neither should the rules that govern it. The evolution of industries often warrants regulatory reform - to foster competition, lower prices, or replace outdated oversight structures. Old institutions cannot adequately oversee new practices. Old rules may not fit the roads where our economy is leading. But instead of sensible reform that rewarded success and freed the creative forces of the market, too often we’ve excused an ethic of greed, corner-cutting and inside dealing that threatens the long-term stability of our economic system.

It happened in the 1980s, when we loosened restrictions on Savings and Loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules. Too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate. Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. Sound familiar?

And it has happened again during this decade, in part because of how we deregulated the financial services sector. After we repealed outmoded rules instead of updating them, we were left overseeing 21st century innovation with 20th century regulations. When subprime mortgage lending took a reckless and unsustainable turn, a patchwork of regulators systematically and deliberately eliminated the regulations protecting the American people and failed to raise warning flags that could have protected investors and the pensions American workers count on.

This was not the invisible hand of the market at work. These cycles of bubble and bust were symptoms of the ideology that my opponent is running to continue. John McCain has spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers. In fact, one of the biggest proponents of deregulation in the financial sector is Phil Gramm – the same man who helped write John McCain’s economic plan; the same man who said that we’re going through a ‘mental recession’; and the same man who called the United States of America a “nation of whiners.” So it’s hard to understand how Senator McCain is going to get us out of this crisis by doing the same things with the same old players.

Make no mistake: my opponent is running for four more years of policies that will throw the economy further out of balance. His outrage at Wall Street would be more convincing if he wasn’t offering them more tax cuts. His call for fiscal responsibility would be believable if he wasn’t for more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and more of a trillion dollar war in Iraq paid for with deficit spending and borrowing from foreign creditors like China. His newfound support for regulation bears no resemblance to his scornful attitude towards oversight and enforcement. John McCain cannot be trusted to reestablish proper oversight of our financial markets for one simple reason: he has shown time and again that he does not believe in it.

What has happened these last eight years is not some historical anomaly, so we know what to expect if we try these policies for another four. When lobbyists run your campaign, the special interests end up gaming the system. When the White House is hostile to any kind of oversight, corporations cut corners and consumers pay the price. When regulators are chosen for their disdain for regulation and we gut their ability to enforce the law, then the interests of the American people are not protected. It’s an ideology that intentionally breeds incompetence in Washington and irresponsibility on Wall Street, and it’s time to turn the page.

Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book – you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing – this isn’t 9/11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I’ll provide it, John McCain won’t, and that’s the choice for the American people in this election.

History shows us that there is no substitute for presidential leadership in a time of economic crisis. FDR and Harry Truman didn’t put their heads in the sand, or hand accountability over to a Commission. Bill Clinton didn’t put off hard choices. They led, and that’s what I will do. My priority as President will be the stability of the American economy and the prosperity of the American people. And I will make sure that our response focuses on middle class Americans – not the companies that created the problem.

To get out of this crisis – and to ensure that we are not doomed to repeat a cycle of bubble and bust again and again – we must take immediate measures to create jobs and continue to address the housing crisis; we must build a 21st century regulatory framework, and we must pursue a bold opportunity agenda that creates new jobs and grows the American economy.

To jumpstart job creation, I have proposed a $50 billion Emergency Economic Plan that would save 1 million jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, repairing our schools, and helping our states and localities avoid damaging budget cuts.

I worked with leaders in Congress to create a new FHA Housing Security Program, which will help stabilize the housing market and allow Americans facing foreclosure to keep their homes at rates they can afford. Going forward, we need to replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as we know them with a structure that is focused on helping people buy homes – not engaging in market speculation. We can’t have a situation like the old S&L scandal where its “heads” investors win, and “tails” taxpayers lose. That’s going to take ending the lobbyist-driven dominance of these institutions that we’ve seen for far too long in Washington.

To prevent fraud in the mortgage market, I've proposed tough penalties on fraudulent lenders, and a Home Score system that will ensure consumers fully understand mortgage offers and whether they'll be able to make payments. To help low- and middle-income families, I will ease the burden on struggling homeowners through a universal homeowner’s tax credit. This will add up to a 10 percent break off the mortgage interest rate for 10 million households. That’s another $500 each year for many middle class families.

Unlike Senator McCain, I will change our bankruptcy laws to make it easier for families to stay in their homes. Right now, if you’re a family that owns one house, bankruptcy judges are actually barred from helping you keep a roof over your head by writing down the value of your mortgage. If you own seven homes, the judge is free to write down any or all of the debt on your second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh homes. Now that may be of comfort to Senator McCain, but that’s the kind of out-of-touch Washington loophole that makes no sense. When I’m President, we’ll make our laws work for working people.

But as we’ve seen the last few days, the crisis in our financial markets now reaches well beyond the housing market. That’s why it’s time to do what I called for last September and again this past March – and it is only more overdue today.

Our capital markets cannot succeed without the public's trust. It’s time to get serious about regulatory oversight, and that’s what I will do as President. That starts with the core principles for reform that I discussed at Cooper Union.

First, if you’re a financial institution that can borrow from the government, you should be subject to government oversight and supervision. When the Federal Reserve steps in as a lender of last resort, it is providing an insurance policy underwritten by the American taxpayer. In return, taxpayers have every right to expect that financial institutions with access to that credit are not taking excessive risks.

Second, we must reform requirements on all regulated financial institutions. We must strengthen capital requirements, particularly for complex financial instruments like some of the mortgage securities and other derivatives at the center of our current crisis. We must develop and rigorously manage liquidity risk. We must investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating. And we must establish transparency requirements that demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders and counterparties. As we reform our regulatory system at home, we must address the same problems abroad so that financial institutions around the world are subject to similar rules of the road.

Third, we need to streamline our regulatory agencies. Our overlapping and competing regulatory agencies cannot oversee the large and complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape. Different institutions compete in multiple markets - Washington should not pretend otherwise. A streamlined system will provide better oversight and reduce costs.

Fourth, we need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are. Over the last few years, commercial banks and thrift institutions were subject to guidelines on subprime mortgages that did not apply to mortgage brokers and companies. This regulatory framework failed to protect homeowners, and made no sense for our financial system. When it comes to protecting the American people, it should make no difference what kind of institution they are dealing with.

Fifth, we must crack down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation. The last six months have shown that this remains a serious problem in many markets and becomes especially problematic during moments of great financial turmoil. We cannot embrace the administration's vision of turning over the protection of investors to the industries themselves. We need regulators that actually enforce the rules instead of overlooking them. The SEC should investigate and punish market manipulation, and report its conclusions to Congress.

Sixth, we must establish a process that identifies systemic risks to the financial system like the crisis that has overtaken our economy. Too often, we end up where we are today: dealing with threats to the financial system that weren't anticipated by regulators. We need a standing financial market advisory group to meet regularly and provide advice to the President, Congress, and regulators on the state of our financial markets and the risks they face. It’s time to anticipate risks before they erupt into a full-blown crisis.

These six principles should guide the legal reforms needed to establish a 21st century regulatory system. But the change we need goes beyond laws and regulation. Financial institutions must do a better job at managing risks. There is something wrong when boards of directors or senior managers don't understand the implications of the risks assumed by their own institutions. It's time to realign incentives and CEO compensation packages, so that both high level executives and employees better serve the interests of shareholders.

Finally, the American people must be able to trust that their government is looking out for all of us - not the special interests that have set the agenda in Washington for eight years, and the lobbyists who run John McCain’s campaign.

I’ve spent my career taking on lobbyists and their money, and I’ve won. If you wanted a special favor in Illinois, there was actually a law that let you give campaign cash to politicians for their own personal use. In the State House, they called it business-as-usual. I called it legalized bribery, and while it didn’t make me the most popular guy in Springfield, I put an end to it.

When I got to Washington, we saw some of the worst corruption since Watergate. I led the fight for reform in my party, and let me tell you – not everyone in my party was too happy about it. When I proposed forcing lobbyists to disclose who they’re raising money from and who in Congress they’re funneling it to, I had a few choice words directed my way on the floor of the Senate. But we got it done, and we banned gifts from lobbyists, and free rides on their fancy jets. And I am the only candidate who can say that Washington lobbyists do not fund my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am President of the United States. That’s how we’re going to end the outrage of special interests tipping the scales.

The most important thing we must do is restore opportunity for all Americans. To get our economy growing, we need to recapture that fundamental American promise. That if you work hard, you can pay the bills. That if you get sick, you won’t go bankrupt. That your kids can get a good education, and that we can leave a legacy of greater opportunity to future generations.

That’s the change the American people need. While Senator McCain likes to talk about change these days, his economic program offers nothing but more of the same. The American people need more than change as a slogan– we need change that makes a real difference in your life.

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 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 changes we need will come without cost – though I have presented ways 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.

This time – this election – is our chance to 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 so that our kids can compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, and make some calls, and 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.