Obama Pledges Widespread Relief, Job Creation in New Economic Proposal

October 14, 2008 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

barack-oba,a74.jpgIn unveiling proposals to help struggling homeowners with their mortgage payments, provide tax breaks to businesses that create jobs and let people dip into their retirement savings without any penalty, Barack Obama on Monday raised the ante in his campaign’s efforts to show that he understands the economic pain much of America is feeling and is ready to provide relief.

“I’m proposing a number of steps that we should take immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities and help struggling homeowners,” Obama told a fired-up, diverse audience of 3,000 people at the SeaGate Convention Center in Toledo. “It’s a plan that begins with one word that’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s spelled J-O-B-S.”

Here in Ohio — part of a region that knows the meaning of economic pain — jobs are a constant topic of conversation. As a result of job losses in the manufacturing industry, Ohio’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.4 percent in August, up from 7.2 percent the month before and the highest rate in 16 years. More people are out of work in businesses that make cars, refrigerators, furniture and other durable goods. Employment in the construction industry also was down.

The state also faces the possibility of losing 10,000 additional jobs at an air park in Wilmington and an auto plant in the Dayton area. In addition, General Motors Corp. plans to close its SUV plant in the Dayton suburb of Moraine by 2010 or sooner because consumers are shifting to smaller vehicles to save fuel. The factory currently employs about 2,000 workers. Half of those jobs will be gone at the end of next week when the automaker eliminates the second production shift.

“This year, my family has been forced to decide which bills we can pay now and which bills we can put off to later,” said Jim Snodgrass, an African-American father of four and Navy veteran who was laid off from a Jeep/Chrysler manufacturing plant. “My 401K is slowly becoming a 101K … [Obama] is the only candidate for president who understands the struggles I’ve gone through.”

That’s the message the Obama team is clearly hoping to communicate to the rest of the country — that their man is the only candidate in touch with Mainstream America, that he “gets it.”

“We can’t wait to help workers and families and communities who are struggling right now — who don’t know if their job or their retirement will be there tomorrow; who don’t know if next week’s paycheck will cover this month’s bills,” Obama said. “We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle-class … and we need to do it right now.”

Ohio Republican Party Spokesman John McClelland accused Obama of planning to raise taxes if elected, “adding insult to injury in a struggling economy.”

“Obama’s plan to raise taxes won’t help families regain their lost savings to send their kids to college, and it certainly won’t help the small businesses trying to stay afloat and create new jobs,” McClelland said. “Higher taxes won’t help anyone, but it’s not surprising coming from the ticket that thinks paying more to the government is ‘patriotic.'”

Monday’s economic speech also sought to continue the Obama campaign’s strategy linking Republican John McCain to the “failed policies” of President Bush, as well as portray McCain as someone who is out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of average Americans. That strategy appears to be working, with a majority of polls continuing to show greater confidence in Obama than McCain on economic matters.

With 20 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the Nov. 4 presidential election up for grabs, some political observers say Obama must win Ohio to secure the White House. Democrats have responded with an unprecedented voter outreach effort, opening campaign offices within 42 miles of every Ohio resident. All told, Obama’s 300-person-plus staff  is twice the size of John Kerry’s in 2004, aides said.

Although Bush won Ohio in 2000 and 2004, Obama’s campaign is forcing the McCain campaign to spend time — and money — in areas once thought reliably Republican. McCain has 40 Ohio offices, but they’re open far fewer hours and have far fewer paid staff. Polls show Obama with slight edge in Ohio.

Democrats are courting young and African-American voters who did not vote in past elections. Obama sent music mogul Russell Simmons to rally voters in urban centers of Columbus and Cleveland, and NBA star LeBron James is now an Obama surrogate.

Jen Psaki, an aide to Obama, said the campaign intends to continue its outreach to black voters.

“The African-American community in Ohio is a key community that we will continue to spend extensive time and resources reaching out to between now and Nov 4,” Psaki told BlackAmericaWeb.com Monday.

Meanwhile, back inside the civic center, Obama said his latest economic proposals would cost $60 billion over two years. The question that remains is whether Obama, if elected president, can deliver on his promises and fix a broken economy that was years in the making. Like any candidate, Obama risks over-promising, under-delivering and failing to address the same mess he accuses the Republicans of starting.

For the party faithful, some of whom punctuated Obama’s speech with shouts of “Word,” “Say that” and “Amen,” those are questions for another time.

“Yeah baby! It’s signed, sealed and delivered!” yelled one woman as the campaign played Obama’s theme song by Stevie Wonder at the end of his speech, music the Obama camp hopes to hear on Election Day.

Source: BAW

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