Sunday, October 12, 2008

Barack Obama tells Daily News how he'd lead us through the economic meltdown

This is a moment of great uncertainty for America. Our escalating financial crisis hasn't just closed banks and businesses. It's threatened your economic security as well.

Our frozen credit markets have sent a ripple effect throughout our economy, making it harder to get a loan for that new car or startup business or college you've dreamed of attending. Three-quarters of a million Americans have lost their jobs this year. Millions more have watched their life savings erode with each plunge of the market.

So these are difficult times. But now is not a time for fear or panic. It is a time for resolve and steady leadership. We can and will meet this moment and restore confidence in the American economy - but it will take a new direction. That's why I'm running for President.

And that's why the decision you make in 23 days is so important.

Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, my opponent's campaign has announced that it plans to "turn the page" on talking about our economy to spend the final weeks of this election attacking me. A top adviser was actually quoted in this newspaper as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

Well, I can handle three more weeks of attacks. But Americans can't afford four more years that look exactly like the last eight. We've seen where that's led us, and we're not going back. It is time to turn the page - on eight years of economic policies that put Wall Street before Main Street but ended up hurting both. We need action now.

The Treasury Department must implement the rescue plan that passed Congress as quickly as possible. But that's just the beginning of what we'll do to strengthen this economy.

For months, I've been fighting for a rescue plan for the middle class. My proposal would mean $3.2 billion in economic stimulus for New York - a shot in the arm that would provide every family immediate relief to cope with rising food and gas prices, help state and local governments maintain essential services in the face of budget shortfalls, and save 64,000 jobs in New York alone by rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges and schools.

We also need relief for small businesses that can't get loans to pay their workers or finance their inventories. After 9/11, we extended the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program, helping 4,700 small businesses in New York City, and we should once again address this crisis nationwide.

To grow our economy from the bottom up, we need a tax code that doesn't just work for the folks at the top. John McCain wants to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut, and nothing at all to 73% of New Yorkers - more than 6.7 million families.

I want to give a middle class tax cut to 95% of all workers and their families, including 9.7 million in New York. American families making less than $250,000 a year won't see their taxes increase one single dime - because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

John McCain wants to give $200 million in tax cuts to the biggest corporations in America, even if they don't create a single new job here. I'll stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and instead eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and startups that create jobs in New York's communities.

It's time for a new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. As President, I'll go through the entire federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and aren't needed so that we end runaway spending and record deficits. And we'll enact common-sense regulations that 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 if we've learned anything from this economic crisis, it's that we are all in this together, and we will rise or fall as one nation.

Together, we can overcome the broken policies and divided politics of the last eight years and renew an economy that rewards work, rebuilds the middle class, and creates millions of new jobs. Together, we cannot fail.

Obama, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, is the Democratic nominee for President.