Obama Talks Economics With Toledoans

This story was written by Kristen Vasas, The BG News


With the current economic crisis affecting everyone from Wall Street brokers to graduating college students, Toledo residents expected to hear financial solutions from Sen. Barack Obama at Monday's political rally.

But while the estimated 3,000 attendees hoped for at least a brief mention of the country's financial future, they had no idea Obama would spend the entire rally focusing on the best ways to overcome the crisis for both the government and the average Toledoan.

"I was surprised he talked about the economy so much, but I think it's an important issue that affects all of us," Betty Applepaum, a rally attendee, said. "He wants to help everybody he can in any way."

In order to create a plan that would assist everyone currently affected by the failing market, Obama proposed a number of steps he would take as president to work towards stabilizing the economy and supporting struggling Americans.

Creating a wide array of new jobs took center stage on Obama's list of economic stimulating goals, with the Democratic nominee promising to propose a new business tax credit to American store owners. Tax breaks would be awarded to business owners that hire new employees within the next two years, Obama said.

"It's time to protect the jobs we have and create the jobs of tomorrow," Obama said. "If we can afford to spend $10 billion a month rebuilding Iraq, we can afford to spend some time [rebuilding American jobs]."

The Hawaiian-born senator also proposed providing immediate relief to families heavily affected by the economic crisis, with at least 95 percent of families receiving tax cuts as soon as Congress would allow it.

"We need to help families get through the tough times so they can send their kids to college," Obama said. "College will become affordable for anyone who wants to go."

Obama also spoke to the tumultuous crowd about expanding unemployment benefits for people who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis, which would include removing taxes on unemployment benefits and allowing families to withdraw up to 50 percent from their 401K.

Volunteer and Canvasser Kim Heretick said Obama's stance on building up industries and benefits, as well as his resolve to fix the national deficit, were some of the main talking points that encouraged her to support Obama after her original candidate - Sen. Hillary Clinton - lost the presidential nomination.

"He recognizes the need to put limits on things, yet at the same time build industries up in order to create and keep jobs," Heretick said. "It's a win, win, win all around."

Obama also plans on providing relief to homeowners who are watching the economic decline affect their mortgages.

"We cannot allow homeowners in small towns to suffer because of the mess on Wall Street," Obama said. "We need to stabilize the financial system by putting money in banks that protect the taxpayers."

And though Obama noted Wall Street and the mega-corporations were responsible for much of the economic crisis currently at hand, he also said most Americans were living well beyond their means in the first place.

According to Obama, Americans' easy accessibility and continued reliance on credit cards and home equity loans have contributed to the financial bailout.

However, with a new ethic of responsibility created by every American citizen, Obama said he believes the economy can and will be fixed.

"Despite all of the [hardships], I ask you all to believe," Obama said. "Believe in yourselves, believe in each other and believe in the future we can build together."
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