Obama Launches National Tour
By Perry Bacon Jr.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Kicking off his general election campaign, Sen. Barack Obama touted his proposals to improve the economy and blasted his rival's ideas in a speech touting his core message for November: electing John McCain would be akin to a third term for George W. Bush.
"For all his talk of independence, the centerpiece of his economic plan amounts to a full-throated endorsement of George Bush's policies...." Obama said in a formal economic speech here before a smaller than usual (by design) crowd of several hundred. "This is the choice you will face in November. You can vote for John McCain, and see a continuation of Bush economic policies -- more tax cuts to the wealthy, more corporate tax breaks."
Obama's speech included few new details. He laid out his general plan for improving the economy and addressing pocketbook concerns for Americans: an immediate $50 billion economic stimulus plan that would include rebate checks and additional aid for people who are unemployed, subsidies for people who can't afford health insurance and tax cuts for middle-income Americans of up to $1000. He is proposing increased taxes on families that make more than $250,000 to help pay for these programs.
Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, responded that "while hardworking families are hurting and employers are vulnerable, Barack Obama has promised higher income taxes, Social Security taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and tax hikes on job creating businesses."
The charges from both sides are largely true. While McCain has offered additional proposals to improve the economy, such as major tax cut for corporations, many of his ideas are like President Bush's. For example, McCain's plans to reduce the cost of health care have been proposed by the Bush administration and opposed by Democrats in Congress. Obama is proposing a series of tax hikes to pay for his programs, although he has promised only to increase levies on upper-income Americans.
That Obama chose launch his general election campaign with a two-week, cross-country tour focused on the economy shows the contrasting messages of the two campaigns. With Americans now saying the economy is their top voting issue, Obama is likely to focus on it often, and polls show voters favoring him over McCain on questions of who will better manage it. McCain, meanwhile, has started running an ad called "Safe" all over the country, touting what he argues are his superior credentials on national security and foreign policy issues.
For all of Obama's talk about a new kind of politics, much of the Illinois senator's speech here could have been given word-for-word by John Kerry four years ago when he took on President Bush.
"That is the choice we face right now -- a choice between more of the same policies that have widened inequality, added to our debt, and shaken the foundation of our economy," Obama said, "or change that will restore balance to our economy, that will invest in the ingenuity and innovation of our people, that will fuel a bottom-up prosperity to keep America strong and competitive in the 21st century."
And he sharply attacked McCain, often using the Arizona senator's own words against him.
"John McCain once said that he couldn't vote for the Bush tax breaks in good conscience because they were too skewed to the wealthiest Americans," Obama said. "Later, he said it was irresponsible to cut taxes during a time of war because we simply couldn't afford them. Well, nothing's changed about the war, but something's certainly changed about John McCain."
Web Politics Editor
June 9, 2008; 2:19 PM ET
Categories: B_Blog , Barack Obama , On the Issues
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