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Presidential Politics: Obama Speaks in La Crosse Wisconsin, McCain Stumps in Missouri; Congress Tinkers with Bailout Bill
Aired October 1, 2008 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Quickly we want to get you to the political event that we have been telling you about because Senator John McCain has actually come to the podium. Let's listen in for a moment to him in Independence, Missouri.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... and I appreciate the hospitality of the Harry Truman Library Institute, and I'm honored to be here in the town that sent Harry Truman to Washington and the town that welcomed him back when his work was done.
And may I say before I go much further to how much I admire a number of things about President Truman? But one of them, among many, among his honesty and candor, was his willingness and understanding that the war in Korea could not be abandoned, even in the face of overwhelming public opinion to the contrary. Harry Truman had the courage to fire one of the most popular military figures in American history, and he stayed the course. And he was a student of history. And he knew how suddenly a crisis could come about.
And while so many things have changed in the 35 years since his passing, Harry Truman would surely recognize the sources of the financial crisis that now threatens the livelihoods of millions and the future of the entire American economy. Only the vast sums of money would surprise him. But the cost of unbridled greed on Wall Street and the foolishness of politicians who fed the problem and the recklessness of politicians who failed to meet the crisis, all of these would have a familiar feel to the man from Independence.
We are square in the greatest financial crisis of our lifetimes, and I'm pleased to report today I'll be returning to the floor of the Senate to vote on a bill that marks a decisive step in the right direction, but only in the right direction. The original proposal was flawed. I urged additions of taxpayers' protection, stronger oversight, limitations on executive compensation and more protections for peoples' bank accounts, for families in America, for working Americans. I'm pleased that these are being added to improve the original bill. It's not perfect.
It took Congress a while. And there were costs to those delays, but they have awakened to the danger. And today, with the unity that this crisis demands, Congress will once again work to restore confidence and stability to the American economy.
(APPLAUSE) There will be a time to fix the blame for all that has happened, especially in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the abuses and political deal-making that corrupted those institutions. But our duty right now is to fix the problem. That's the business that will shortly take me back to Washington.
Following September 11, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. Now with this measure, we have another chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country. If the financial rescue bill fails in Congress yet again, the present crisis will turn into a disaster.
As credit disappears, students will no longer be able to get loans for college, and families looking for a new home will be unable to get a loan. New car sales will come to a halt. Businesses will have difficulty securing credit for operations and may be unable to pay employees. If we fail to act, the gears of our economy will grind to a halt. This is a moment of great testing. At such moments there are those on both sides of this debate who will act on principle.
Of course, there are always some who think first of their own interest, who calculate their own advantage instead of rushing to the aid of their country. But in the case of this bill, I'm confident there are enough people of good will in both parties to see America through this crisis. And when the last vote is cast, we can be grateful to all of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, for helping to solve the crisis instead of merely exploiting it.
Crisis often have a way of revealing our better selves, of showing what we're made of and how much we can achieve when we're put to a test. This is true as well of the grave challenges we face in Washington, yet it should not require extreme emergencies, when the future of our entire economy is on the line, to bring out the best in us, or to bring us together in service to the common good. We are supposed to do that even in the calmest of times. And if we work together more often in that spirit, perhaps there would be fewer crisis, close calls and near disasters confronting our nation.
Just consider the day-to-day routine of Congress even as the 110th Congress ends. There remains a long, long list of challenges unmet. Congress has failed to pass many of the appropriations bills funding the regular business of our government, from Agriculture to the Labor Department to Transportation. The majority of the appropriations bills, the money bills have not passed. Even funding for the operations of the legislative branch itself has not passed. Congress can't even find agreement on the yearly bill to pay for the Congress itself.
And while these routine funding issues are addressed at the last minute behind closed doors, the big challenges facing our country continue to languish. We still have made no progress to resolving our energy crisis. While we seek solutions to the economic crisis we face today, Washington has totally -- been totally ineffective in addressing the housing crisis that started it. And in the face of mounting job losses, we still have not yet taken action to put our economy back on track with policies that would encourage job creation or with updates to an unemployment system and job training programs that were created for the 1950s.
Our government is on the wrong track. Our economy is struggling, and I expect we'll receive more bad news with Friday's unemployment report. It is now a time for leadership and a plan to create jobs and get our country on the right track. I know how to do that.
I believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. I believe in rewarding hard work and letting people keep the fruits of their labor. We will keep the current low tax rates. We will simplify the tax code. We will double the child exemption from $3,500 to $7,000. We will give every family in America a $5,000 tax credit to buy their own health insurance or keep their current plan, and we will open up the national health care market to expand choices and improve quality. My administration will reduce the price of food by eliminating the subsidies for ethanol and agricultural goods. We will eliminate them.
These subsidies inflate the price of food, not only for Americans, but for people in poverty across the world. And I propose to abolish them. I believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans so they can create more jobs and keep our economy going so we will cut business taxes, cut them from 35 percent to 25 percent, to give American businesses a new edge in competition.
We'll spur new investment through R&D tax credits and expensing of equipment. We'll protect the rights of workers to decide for themselves by Democratic vote whether to unionize. That's a sacred right of every American.
Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs, cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep our best jobs from moving overseas, doubling the child tax exemption will improve the lives of millions of American families at a time when the cost of living is rising. Reducing government spending, getting rid of failed programs, let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit.
Opening new markets for our goods and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity. As president I'll also set this country on the straightest, swiftest path to energy independence.
As a nation we will embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We're going to stop sending $700 billion a year to country that is don't like us very much.
We will attack the program on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore and we'll drill them now.
We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles. And in all of this we will create millions of new jobs. Many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity, jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.
Some still insist that we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power, but Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan. And Americans are ambitious by nature and we've faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.
As president, I will also act immediately with reforms to restore fairness, integrity and financial sanity to the institutions that have failed us on Wall Street.
We'll apply new rules to Wall Street to end the frenzies of speculation by people gaming the system and to make sure that this present crisis is never repeated. We will bring regulatory agencies built for the 1930s into the 21st century. On my watch, the rules will be enforced, and violations will be prosecuted. People will be held responsible and accountable.
And there will be new rules to shrink, sell and clean house at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
We must also realize this rescue plan has serious implications for future spending. We can't dedicate more than -- possibly more than a trillion dollars to rescue failing institutions and then go right back to business as usual in Washington as if there were no end to the resources of government or the patience of the taxpayers. Therefore, therefore -
Therefore, as president I will impose a one-year spending freeze on every agency of the federal government.
Excepting only national defense, the care of our veterans and a few critical priorities.
Leadership requires candor, and I'll tell you bluntly that America is already $10 trillion in debt. And to make our economy strong again, we must reduce the burden of federal spending. We can't -
We can't tax our pay to prosperity. I'm committed to billions in spending reductions that will balance the budget and get us on the path away from ruinous debt. The constant political rancor that stops us from solving these problems in Washington isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not for you.
Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I'll reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. And I have that record and the scars to prove it.
I offer this not just as a campaign slogan, but as the way to solve our country's problems. Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. This great country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.
We're going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us.
And I won't care who gets the credit. That is the spirit of can- do patriotism. Harry Truman, that humble, good man from Independence, Missouri brought to the presidency, when to his and everyone's surprise he assumed the office of president and mantle of leader the Free World. He faced the grave and difficult decisions that would end the World War and remake the world out of its ashes. He was a man of principle, of wisdom, deep and abiding love for our country. His accomplishments in war and peace are among the most significant of any president in the 20th century. He succeeded beyond everyone's expectations, perhaps even his own because every day harry Truman woke up determined to put his country before party and self-interest.
We would all be better public servants and the country would be better served if we tried a little more often to keep the example of this good American before us.
Thank you and God bless. Thank you.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone.
It is Wednesday, October 1st. Here are the headlines right now on CNN.
The race for the White House, Obama and McCain focused like a laser beam on battleground states today. Both candidates live this hour.
And can the Senate do what the House couldn't and approve a $700- billion financial bailout. Just hours to go before the critical vote.
Counting down to the first and only vice presidential debate, Biden, Palin. They're saying meet me in St. Louis.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
The presidential candidates battling for support in key swing states with just 34 days to go before the election. Can you believe it? John McCain, as you heard, speaking to a crowd in Independence, Missouri, this morning. Barack Obama scheduled to hold a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We will get to him shortly.
Both presidential candidates will be on Capitol Hill tonight for an important vote. The Senate takes up a sweetened version of the financial bailout bill. At its core, the bill is the same, $700 billion rescue the House rejected. But negotiators hope new provisions will make this bitter bill easier for the House to swallow. The Senate version would increase government insurance on bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000.
The Senate also tossed in $100 billion in tax breaks, they run the gamut from tax credits for solar energy to relief for flood victims. The Senate would also help millions of families from getting hit with the alternative minimum tax. If you are feeling a bit wonkish today, you can read the entire version of the Senate bailout bill. Log on any time to our Web site, the address, CNN.com.
Call him fickle, uncertain, or just plain scared, investors driving stocks into negative territory from the get-go this morning. There you can see it for yourself. The down is down 187 points. Blue chips stumbling after a Tuesday surge of nearly 500 points. That made up much of Monday's nearly 800 point loss. Credit markets remain clogged, though. The rate banks charge to lend to each other shot up to a record high.
Getting through the night with no major missteps, that is one of the goals for both vice presidential candidates during tomorrow night's debate.
CNN's Lisa Sylvester looks at whether Palin's gaffs are getting more media attention than Biden's.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's been plenty of blunders on the campaign trail. This one from Senate Joe Biden.
SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television didn't just talk about the about the, you know, the princes of greed.
SYLVESTER: Wrong. Franklin Roosevelt wasn't the president during the stock market crash. Herbert Hoover was. And in 1929 Americans didn't watch TV. They listened to radio. Here is another one. Biden sounds like he's going to take down his own running mate.
BIDEN: I guarantee you Barack Obama ain't taking my shot guns. Don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I got two. If he tries to fool with my Berretta he's got a problem.
SYLVESTER: Senator Biden's gaffs fly under the radar of mainstream media. But "Washington Post" and CNN media critic Howard Kurtz says Governor Sarah Palin's seem to be magnified.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": There's a tremendous disparity between the coverage that Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are getting. When Biden makes a mistake it is nowhere the big story that's endlessly repeated the way it is when Governor Palin does so.
SYLVESTER: "Newsweek" editor and CNN analyst Fareed Zakaria wrote a sharply word editorial that Palin wasn't ready to be vice president. A point he reiterated on CNN.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": It's not she doesn't know the right answer. It is that she clearly does not understand the question.
SYLVESTER: But Palin's defenders say the liberal, elite media is being plain nasty. And Sara Palin's approval rating as Alaska's governor is a strong 68 percent because she has something that counts with voters.
BRIAN DARLING, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: If you look at Sarah Palin, she's not a career legislator. She's a real person who got involved in politics, and I think most Americans look at her and can more identify with Sarah Palin than any of the other candidates running for federal office.
SYLVESTER (on camera): Sarah Palin said quite confidently that she's not only ready but willing and able to serve as vice president. She has a message that resonates with voters. Keep in mind, as governor of Alaska, she actually has more executive experience than any of the other candidates in this race.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
HARRIS: Their first, and only, face-off on this campaign. Biden- Palin, debate night in America, live on CNN tomorrow night 9:00 Eastern, from Washington University in St. Louis.
Barack Obama rallying supporters in La Crosse, Wisconsin, right now. Let's take you there for a moment.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Full weekend, huh?
OBAMA: OK. Let me call my campaign staff and see if I can have a pint with you.
Can everybody please give Nicky Brown a big round of applause for the great introduction.
I want to thank Pastor Melinda Pupillo for the wonderful invocation. I want to thank Pastor Mark Jolivette for Pledge of Allegiance. I want to thank your wonderful State Representative Jennifer Shilling for her strong words, and one of the finest young congressman we have in Congress, Congressman Ron Kind, give him a round of applause.
We meet here at a time of great uncertainty. Our country is in crisis. I think everybody understands that. The dream of so many Americans are at risk, and the American people are waiting for leadership from the White House and leadership from Washington.
On Monday, over the course of a few hours, the failure to pass the economic rescue plan in the House led to the single-largest decline in the stock market in two decades. Over $1 trillion of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed. It wasn't just the wealth of a few CEOs on Wall Street. The 401(k)s and retirement accounts that millions count on for their family's future are now smaller. The state pension funds of teachers and government employees lost billions upon billions of dollars. Hard-working Americans who invested their nest egg to watch in grow are now watching it shrink.
But while the decline of the stock market is devastating, the consequences of the credit crisis that caused it will be even worse if we don't act and act immediately. That's why I'll be flying back to Washington immediately after this rally
Because it is time for us to take some clear action. Because of the housing crisis, we are now in a very dangerous situation where financial institutions across this country are afraid to lend money. If all that meant was the failure of a few banks on Wall Street, that would be one thing. But that's not what it means. What it means is if we don't act, it's going to be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home, or the loan you need to buy a car, or send your children to college. What it means is that businesses won't be able to get the loans they need to open the new factories or hire more workers. Small business people may not be able to make payroll. Thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.
Let me be perfectly clear. The fact that we're in this mess is an outrage, La Crosse.
It's an outrage because we didn't get here by accident. This was not part of the normal business cycle. This was not the actions of just a few bad apples somewhere. This financial crisis is the direct result of greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years.
It's the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way. Lobbyists who bought their way into our government. It is the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most, and hope that prosperity trickles down on everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common sense regulation as unwise and unnecessary. This crisis is the final verdict on this failed philosophy, a philosophy that we cannot afford to continue.
We can't have eight more years of this philosophy. We can't have four more years of philosophy. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
Now, La Crosse, while there's plenty of blame to go around and many in Washington and Wall Street who deserve it. All of us now have a responsibility to solve this crisis because it affects the financial well-being of every single American. There will be time to punish those who set this fire. But now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out.
If your neighbor's house is burning, you might grumble that they were always smoking in bed or leaving the stove on. But the first thing you want to do is make sure the fire is out so it doesn't spread to your house. You don't want to go around finding out what happened before you put the fire out. That's where we're at today. I know that many of you are feeling anxiety right now about your jobs, about your homes. I see college students here. You're wondering what kind of America are you going to inherit.
So I want especially to say this to the young people as well as those young at heart. I know this. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis because that's who we are. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that's faced down war and depression, great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment we have always risen to the occasion. We have always risen to meet these challenges, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans with resolve, with confidence.
We've met these challenges with resolve and confidence and with that fundamental belief that here in America our destiny is not written for us. It's written by us. That's who we are. And that's the country we need to be right now, and that's also why I'm running for president of the United States.
This isn't just a Wall Street crisis. It's an American crisis. It's the American economy that needs this rescue plan. I understand why people might be skeptical when this president asks for a blank check to solve problems. I spent most of my time in Washington being skeptical about this administration. This time has been no different. That's why over a week ago I demanded this plan include specific proposals to protect the American taxpayers, protections that the administration eventually agreed to, as did Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
First, I said, we need an independent board to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.
Second, I said, we cannot help banks on Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan, too.
Third, I said, I would not allow this plan to become a welfare program for the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess.
And finally, I said, that if American taxpayers are financing this solution, then you should be treated like investors. You should get every penny of your tax dollars back once this economy recovers.
This last part is important because it's been the most misunderstood, and frankly, poorly communicated part of this plan. This is not just a plan to hand over $700 billion of your money to a few banks. If this is managed correctly, we will hopefully get most, or all, of our money back. We might even turn a profit on the government's investment. Every penny of which will go directly back to you, the investors.
The rescue plan now includes these four principles. It also includes a proposal I made yesterday morning to expand federal deposit insurance for families and small businesses across America, who have invested their money in our banks. This will give a boost to small businesses making our banking system more secure and helping restore confidence by reassuring families and businesses that their money is safe.
Even with all these taxpayer protections, this plan is not perfect. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have legitimate concerns about it. I know many Americans share these concerns. It is clear, though, that this is what we have to do right to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe.
That's why I've been reaching out to leaders in both parties to do whatever I can to help pass this plan. That's why I'll be flying back to Washington today to cast my vote to safeguard the American economy.
And to the Democrats and Republicans who oppose this plan I say this, step up to the plate, do what's right for the country, even if it's not popular, because the time to act is now.
Now, La Crosse, I know many Americans are wondering what happens next. Passing this bill will not be the end of our work to strengthen our economy. It's just the beginning of a long, hard road ahead. Let me tell you exactly how I'll move forward as president. From the moment I take office, my top priority will be to do everything I can to make sure your tax dollars are protected. I'll demand a full review of this financial rescue plan to make sure that it is working for you. If you, the American taxpayer are not getting your money back, then we will change how this program is being managed. If need be, we will send new legislation to Congress to make sure the taxpayers are protected in line with the principles that I've put forward. You should expect nothing less from Washington.
And if we do have losses, I propose a financial stability fee on the financial service industry so Wall Street foots the bill, not the American taxpayer.
And as I modernize the financial system to create new rules of the road to prevent another crisis, we will continue this fee to build up a reserve so that if it happens again, it will be the money contributed by the banks that's put at risk.
Now this will only work if there's real enforcement and real accountability. And that starts with presidential leadership. So let me be very clear, when I am president, financial institutions will do their part and pay their share and American taxpayers will never again have to put their money on the line to pay for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street. That's a pledge I make today, and it's one I'll keep as president of the United States.
Now, accountability must start with this rescue plan, but it can't end there. Across Wisconsin, across the country, families are sitting down at the kitchen table and making hard choices. You're planning for your future in tough times, you're squeezing just a little bit more out of next month's paycheck so you can pay next month's bills. It's time for Washington to do the same. We can't mortgage our children's future on a mountain of debt. I look at all these young people here today and I say to myself, the notion that we are loading up more and more debt on a war in Iraq that I believe should have never been authorized, that should have never been waged --
-- on tax cuts for multi-billion dollar corporations and some of the wealthiest Americans. That is not a good investment in the future. We can't run up the credit card, have a party and leave our children to pay the bill. It is time --
-- it is time to put an end to the run-away spending and the record deficits. It's now how you would run your family budget. And it must not be how Washington handles your tax dollars. It's time to return to fiscal responsibility and pay-as-you-go budgeting. The kind of budgeting we had in the 1990s. You remember Bill Clinton left a surplus for George W. Bush.
Many in Congress have been fighting for these common sense principles. And I'll be a president who supports them and makes sure they succeed. That's why I'm not going to stand here and simply tell you what I'm going to spend. I'm going to start by telling you how I'm going to save when I'm president.
We are going to go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate the programs that don't work and aren't needed. We should start by ending a war in Iraq that's costing us $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits is on a $79 billion surplus.
Think about it. Iraq has a $79 billion surplus. The notion that we are putting our tax dollars in at a time of desperate economic circumstances makes no sense. And we're going to change it.
We should also stop -- we should stop sending $15 billion a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare. And then we should go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. We need to stop sending $3 billion a year to banks that provide student loans the government could provide directly to students for less.
And we can end the hundreds of millions a year in subsidies to agribusiness that can survive just fine without your tax dollars and use some of that money to help struggling family farmers right here in Wisconsin and all across America. That's what I'll do as president.
We can't stop there. We lose $100 billion every year because corporations set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America. In the Senate I worked across the aisle to crack down on these schemes. And as president I will shut down those offshore tax savings and all those corporate loopholes once and for all. You shouldn't have to pay higher taxes because some big corporation cuts corners to avoid paying theirs.
All of us have a responsibility, La Crosse, to pay their fair share. That's accountability. And that's what we'll have when I'm president.
As for -- as for the programs we need, we'll make them work better and cost less. I want to create a high performance team of experts that evaluates every agency, every office based on how well they're serving the American taxpayer. We can save billions of dollars by cutting private contractors and improving management and oversight of hundreds of billions of dollars that our government spends on contracts. And I'll finally end the abuse of no big contracts once and for all. The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I'm in the White House.
Make no mistake -- we need to end an era in Washington where accountability has been absent, oversight has been overlooked, your tax dollars have been turned over to wealthy CEOs and the well- connected corporations. You need leadership you can trust to work for you, not for the special interests who have had their thumb on the scale. And together, we will tell Washington, and their lobbyists, that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded my campaign. You have. They will not run my White House. You'll help me run my White House.
They will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president.
Now, people have asked whether the size of this rescue plan, together with the weakening economy, means that the next president will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. The answer is yes and no. With less money flowing into the Treasury some useful programs or policies that I've proposed on the campaign trail may have to be delayed. But there's certain investments in our future that we cannot delay precisely because our economy is in turmoil. You can always put off giving your house a new coat of paint or renovating your kitchen or getting some new curtains. But when your roof is crumbling, or your heater goes out, you realize these are long-term investments you need to make right away. If you've got termites in your house, you can't sit around and pretend that you don't.
Well the same is true with our economy. We can't wait to help Americans keep up with rising costs and shrinking paychecks by giving our workers a middle class tax cut. We've got to do that now.
We can't wait to relieve the burden of crushing health care costs. We can't wait to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our roads and our bridges and investing in renewable sources of energy that will stop us from spending $700 billion a year -- sending it to tyrants and dictators for their oil. We can't wait to educate the next generation of Americans with the skills and knowledge they need to compete with any workers, anywhere in the world. Those are priorities we cannot delay.
As soon as we pass this rescue package, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to rescue families right here in La Crosse and across Wisconsin who are struggling to pay their bills and keep their jobs.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, we need to pass, to begin with, an economic stimulus package that will help people cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and our roads, help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases, a plan that would extend -- expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who have lost their jobs and can't find new ones. And beyond this stimulus package we need an economic agenda to restore opportunity for Americans and prosperity to Americans, so that we're not borrowing debt from China to buy oil from Saudi Arabia, so that the jobs of the future don't go to the better educated worker in India and the cars of the future aren't made in Japan. And we can have a greater legacy of opportunity for our children and grandchildren. That's how we'll emerge from this crisis-- stronger and more prosperous than we were before. That's what I intend to do when I'm president.
I'm going to begin -- let me lay this out, because I want everybody to know the differences between myself and Senator McCain on this campaign. I will begin by reforming our tax code so that it doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I know you've been seeing some of these ads from the other side saying oh, Obama is going to raise taxes. They're not true. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups so that we can grow our economy and create high-wage, high-tech jobs for tomorrow.
I will cut taxes -- listen -- cut taxes, La Crosse, for 95 percent of all workers and their families.
If you make less than a quarter million dollars a year -- let me see a show of hands. How many of you are making less than a quarter million a year? All right. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.
I will reform our health care system to relieve families and businesses and the entire economy from the crushing costs of health care.
We're going to invest in new technology. We're going to emphasize preventive care so people aren't going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't have health care, you'll be able to get the same kind of health care that members of Congress give themselves.
And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating from against those who are sick and need care the most because I know what it's like to watch a loved one suffer, not just because of a broken health care system, but because -- not just because they were sick, but because of a broken health care system. My mother died of cancer when she was 53 years old. And I remember her being on her hospital bed arguing with the insurance companies because they were saying, well, maybe there's a pre-existing condition, maybe we don't have to pay for your treatment. I've seen that happen in my own life, in my own family. It is wrong. And so we are going to tell the insurance companies, do what's right by your customers, people who have paid their premiums, pay their claims, act the way you're supposed to act. We are going to make that happen when I'm president.
(APPLAUSE) I'm going to make sure that we not only stop insurance companies, but we're also going to negotiate with the drug companies for the cheapest available price on drugs because we can't have a situation in which senior citizens are having to choose between medicine and the rent because a few lobbyists in Washington were able to make sure that the drug companies were making billions of dollars of profits that they don't deserve. That is going to change when I'm president of the United States of America.
We're going to make sure that we have an energy plan that finally makes sense for America. I listened to the Republicans talking about drill, baby, drill.
Now listen, I believe that we need -- I believe that we have to make sure that we have increased domestic oil production. But understand this, we are not going to be able to by ourselves simply drill our way out of the problem. We use 25 percent of the world's oil and we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. So we're going to tap our natural gas reserves, we're going to invest in clean coal, find ways to safely harness nuclear power. We can do those things. But we also have to understand that this economy needs to become more efficient. And so I'm going to help our auto companies retool so that the fuel efficient cars of the future are built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but right here in the United States of America.
I'm going to make it easier for Americans to afford these new cars. And I'm going to invest $15 billion a year, over the next decade, in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power, solar power, geothermal, biodiesel, the next generation of biofuels. We can create five million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. Those old factories we can open up, make them wind turbines or solar panels. Those farms that are having a tough time, they can start growing switchgrass for -- to create the next generation of cellulosic ethanol. We can rebuild our electricity grid, put people back to work right now rebuilding our infrastructure so that we can get the energy that's generated from windmills and solar panels to the population centers that need them. We can create jobs.
We can free ourselves of dependence from Middle Eastern oil in 10 years and in the process we can stop global warming. That is the great mission of this generation, and I'm going to make it happen when I'm president of the United States of America.
And if I'm president --
(APPLAUSE) -- I'm superstitious, so if I'm president, I will meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world class education from the day they are born to the day they graduate from college. Because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I'll invest in early childhood education to close the achievement gap. I'll recruit an army of new teachers. We're going to pay them higher salaries, we're going to give them more support.
In exchange, I will ask for the highest standards, the greatest accountability. But I'm also going to make sure our teachers are not teaching to the test because I want our young people to learn art and music along with math and reading and science.
And I want -- to all the young people who are here, I want you to know what I'm going to be asking for. I'm going to be asking for all of you to serve in this country, serve in the military, serve in the peace corps, serve in the homeless shelter, serve in some capacity for your community. And in return, we will guarantee that every single one of you can afford a college education. You invest in America, we'll invest in you. Together we're going to move this country forward.
And finally we're going to modernize our outdated financial regulations. We're going to put in place the common sense rules of the road I've been calling for since March, rules that will keep our market free, fair and honest, rules that will make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again. These are the changes and reforms that we need, bottom-up growth that will create opportunity for every American, investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century, common sense regulations for our financial system that will prevent a crisis like this.
I won't pretend that this is going to be easy, or that it's going to come without a cost. We're all going to need to sacrifice. We're all going to need to pull our weight because now more than ever we're all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end there's no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There's only the road that we're traveling on as Americans. And we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation, as one people.
This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven't seen in nearly a century. We're involved in two wars. We've gone through the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. All across America people are struggling. They're working harder just to get by. I meet families who have worked hard all their lives and yet have no idea how they're going to retire. I met a young person in Iowa who was going to school full time, getting three hours sleep and then working the night shift because she had a sister who was sick and had to try to take care of her. Nobody was providing her any help. I met guys who lost their jobs but can't go on a job search because they can't afford to fill up their gas tank.
So I know times are tough. People are going through some very, very difficult times. And each of you out here -- you've got your own story to tell. But I know that future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose, when we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession? Will they say that we've turned on each other? Will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame, when we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other's success, that all of us, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, that all of us have a stake in each other -- that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper?
That's how America's always moved forward. That's how we've always moved forward, and this is one of those moments. I realize many of you are cynical, many of you are fed up with politics. I understand you're disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I'm asking you in this election to believe, believe in this country, believe in your ability to change it. I ask you what has been asked --
-- I ask of you what's been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history, what was asked at the beginning of the Great Depression. In his first fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt told his fellow Americans, this is -- there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that's the confidence of the people themselves. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. Let us unite in banishing fear. Together, we cannot fail.
Think about that. Together we cannot fail. That was the motto of every great movement in our history. That was what moved us to overcome slavery. That's what moved us to give women the right to vote. That's what moved us to give workers the right to organize. That's what moved us during the civil rights movement. That's what moved us at every juncture. America, together we cannot fail, not now, not when we have a crisis to solve, not when we have an economy to save, not when there's so many Americans without jobs and without homes, not when there are families who can't afford to see a doctor or send their child to college or pay their bills at the end of the month, not when there's a generation that's counting on us to give them the same opportunities, the same chances that we had for ourselves. We can do this because we've done it before.
Some of us had grandparents or maybe parents who said to themselves, I can't go to college, but I know that if I work hard, my child would go to college. Some of us had parents who said, you know, I may not be able to own a business myself, but if I put in the work, if I have a big dream, then maybe my child or my grandchild will own a business. There were women who said, maybe I can't vote, but if I work hard, maybe my daughter will be able to vote. There were immigrants who said maybe I can't vote and maybe I can't speak my mind, I can't worship who I want to worship because I live in a country that doesn't give us those freedoms, but I'm going to set out from distant shores to America, because I hear that in America, anything is possible and you can always make it if you try.
Some of us had parents who said, you know, I'm never going to be a United States senator, but maybe my son will be a United States senator.
I'll never be the president, but maybe my son can be the president. Maybe my daughter can be the president.
That's what America's about -- each generation working, fighting, struggling so that the future is better than the past. That's the moment we're in. That's what we're fighting right now. That's what this election's about. That's why I'm running for president. And if you will fight with me, and work with me, and roll up your sleeves, if all of you go out and vote today and tomorrow and the next day, I promise you, we will not just win Wisconsin, we will win this general election. And you and I together, we're going to change this country and change the world.
Thank you, everybody! God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
HARRIS: And there you have it, Barack Obama on the campaign trail in the key battleground state of Wisconsin talking about your concerns, about your money, and the financial rescue plan. The candidates, both presidential candidates, using slightly different language to describe the plan. Thirty-four days to a huge day for America.
When we come back, personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, joins us with a look at a new way to protect your cash.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hey there, Tony.
HARRIS: Congress is tinkering with the bailout bill, the rescue plan, whatever we're calling it right now, to increase its odds of passing. The Senate plan would more than double government insurance on bank deposits. CNN personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, is here.
Gerri, good to see you.
WILLIS: Good to see you, Tony.
HARRIS: More than a dozen bank failures, boy, this year so far. Many of them household names. What guarantees are out there to protect your money and my money?
WILLIS: Well, hey, Tony, the good news here is that there's never been a dime lost in FDIC-insured accounts, and FDIC stands for the corporation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, that stands behind deposits at member institutions. If you want to know if your bank's a member, go to fdic.gov. The insurance coverage applies to consumers with deposits up to the following limits: $100,000 for individual accounts, unless Congress passes this bill they're talking about, in which case it would more than double, $200,000 for joint accounts, $250,000 for retirement accounts.
Now, the FDIC is trying to get the limits raised, as I just said.
WILLIS: Right now, you definitely want to think about safety and soundness of your own bank, Tony. I know a lot of people out there are thinking, is my bank safe? Don't tell me what happens if it blows up; I want to know what happens right now. Go to bankrate.com safety and soundness meter. That's the good news, they actually rate these banks. They'll tell you how safe your bank is. They have a one to five scale. And they take into account 22 different measures of profitability. This is good news for you if you want to know about your bank. And they are not grading on a curve, by the way.
HARRIS: Yes. Very good, Gerri. I know we're up against the time window here, but I wanted to get you in.
Good to see you, Gerri. Thank you.
WILLIS: Thank you.