The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Obama's American Dream Agenda

Obama spoke about help for the middle-class in Bettendorf, Iowa. (AP)

BETTENDORF, IOWA--Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, bidding to strengthen his appeal among working families, outlined new proposals Wednesday designed to make college more affordable, encourage retirement savings and help people balance the competing demands of work and family.

In a speech delivered in Bettendorf, Iowa, Obama said the cost of the American Dream is rising faster than ever. "While some have prospered beyond imagination in this global economy, middle-class Americans -- as well as those working hard to become middle class -- are seeing the American dream slip further and further away," he said.

Obama said President Bush's tax cuts have helped to increase income inequality and said the administration's policies have favored corporate and special interests over average families. But he argued that it will take more than replacing Bush with a Democrat next year to bring about the changes needed.

"We're not going to reclaim that dream unless we put an end to the politics of polarization and division that is holding this country back," he said in remarks prepared for delivery. "Unless we stand up to the corporate lobbyists that have stood in the way of progress. Unless we have leadership that doesn't just tell people what they want to hear but tells everyone what they need to know."

Obama repackaged some of the proposals he has outlined already in the campaign with several new ones in an effort to offer a newly updated economic message two months before the Iowa caucuses. Through much of the year, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has demonstrated much more appeal to middle-class and blue-collar voters than Obama, a critical weakness in the Illinois senator's campaign that he is seeking to overcome.

Campaign officials said the new proposals would cost $26 billion annually. That does not include the cost of his health care proposal or his previously announced middle-class tax cut.

Among the new proposals offered Wednesday is a refundable tax credit to cover the first $4,000 in tuition costs for any student. Obama said that would cover two-thirds of the tuition costs at the average public college or university. He also pledged to simplify the financial aid application process to make it easer for all students to apply for assistance.

To make saving for retirement easier, Obama said he would require employers to enroll workers in direct deposit accounts. Workers would have the option of opting out of the program or putting even more of their wages into the accounts. He also proposed expanding an existing program that would have the federal government match half of the first $1,000 in savings for families earning $75,000 or less.

To help families cope with the burdens of raising children or caring for elderly parents, Obama pledged to double the amount of money spent on after-school programs and expand provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover millions more families. He also said he would encourage states to provide paid leave for workers.

"Americans don't expect government to solve all our problems," Obama said, according to his prepared text. "But you're tired of a government that works for special interests, and not for you. It's time that we had leadership that worried as much about Main Street as it does about Wall Street."

--Dan Balz

Posted at 11:56 AM ET on Nov 7, 2007
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Posted by: votenic | November 7, 2007 5:57 PM

I real this column everyday. All the articles..WAPO and CNN are the most pro-Hillary "news" sites out there. If you want to know about what really happened wit Barack really have to search the local papers where ever he is. You'll never get the real scoop here.

Posted by: tjfrmla | November 7, 2007 4:19 PM

It's about time a candidate works to convey a complete vision for how he or she would like to see this country. At the end of the day there is only "one United States of America" and we can't afford to constantly splinter ourselves into different groups who work against one another and then consider that to be an achievement. Think about it for a few minutes without all of the rhetoric: where has the polarization gotten us in past 15 or so years? Are we safer? Are we economically better off? Are we more satisfied citizens? The US needs leadership that will cause Americans to not be one or two issue voters and to think more broadly about where we all need to go; otherwise the people will inevitably parish. Hopefully Senator Obama's Agenda will encourage all of the candidates to be more broad and principled in their approaches.

Posted by: pvedol | November 7, 2007 4:17 PM

Dan - the tone of your article is disappointing to say the least. Did you interview anyone who saw him speak? Did you ask them how they felt Omaba compared to Clinton? I love you guys, but why do you want Hilary to be President? You and Chris always use this tone when writing about Obama. GO TALK TO SOME PEOPLE IN IOWA- we love Barack! For a clearer read, please check out

Posted by: sheridan1 | November 7, 2007 3:29 PM

This does sound like repackaging. I'm sure there's more substance to the "Dream Plan," but to the degree it's reported (like here) as another way for him to pitch his 'reinventing politics/reinventing government' then it's going to sound like another set of thin platitudes.

However honorable his goal, the notion of fundamentally reinventing politics may not sell as a practical plan for governance, that addresses real world issues that need immediate fixing.

Posted by: DC_Progress | November 7, 2007 2:21 PM

Good coverage by the Washington Post and Dan Balz on this Obama message. As someone who believes that Obama offers the most promise for the Democratic Party this election cycle, I hope his campaign will continue to repeat and, if necessary, "repackage" his positions so that they resonate with potential voters. The Obama campaign has developed detailed positions on so many issues, but, unfortunately, too often they have not received the media attention they deserve.

Also, Obama needs to keep repeating the assertion that he is the best one to end the bickering and polarization, and unify the country.

Posted by: cpaustin408 | November 7, 2007 1:14 PM


this should help,

HopeSpringsATurtle wrote:
I believe the mask of connivance is slipping as demonstrated by Dianne Feinstein's vote for Mukasey.

Her vote is part of the price she's paying to her master the BushCo war-mongering, war services industry which directly benefits her war-profiteering husband

Richard Blum, a 75% partner in Perini Corporation.

Perini is a construction company that has received nearly a billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction funds.

end of HopeSpringsATurtle quote.


SO DIANNE FIENSTEIN IS AN agent of Israel, an "Israel FIRST!!!," a non-citizen, disguised as a citizen of the United States and a WAR PROFITEER...

the quote is from a poster on the Paul Kane Blog

back to your regularly scheduled programming...


Posted by: afraidofme | November 7, 2007 12:12 PM

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