Barack Obama Said:
My hastily written and sloppy notes from the Kiva Auditorium today.
First, some background ...
• The line at the Convention Center encircled almost all of the west building. It continued inside, python-like, through various trapdoors, utility closets and hallways.
• The Kiva Auditorium seats 2,300. It was filled to capacity.
• About 1,000 more people (according to Obama) watched from big screens in the large downstairs "overflow" room and stood around outside. Obama came out and greeted both crowds before he headed upstairs to the Kiva. When he appeared on the overflow room's barricaded (Barackaded?) stage, the push toward it was, frankly, scary. He was a rockstar.
• While this was happening, bored New Mexicans corralled onto the onstage "proletariat" risers behind the podium attempted to start "The Wave" a few times. It was cute.
The meat and potatoes ...
The event was being billed as a "town hall" meeting with a focus on economics. Obama spoke for about 40 minutes. This was to be followed by a panel discussion on economics, and finally the floor would be opened up for public comment. Phases two and three are happening as I write this. (The acoustics downstairs are awful. Like many others downstairs, we bailed out after Obama's speech.) Obama said:
• "Hard work is no longer enough" to guarantee financial security in this country.
• The housing crisis is pushing us toward "the brink of recession." Young home owners, Latinos and African Americans are the most affected by the mortgage crunch.
• A "breakdown in principals" at the administrative level allowed predatory lending to flourish in the 2000s.
• When it comes to economic issues, McCain's a turncoat.
• There needs to be relief for America's middle class and "working poor," both in the short term and long term to resolve economic problems "decades in the making." For this, there's Obama's "Economic Stimulus Package."
1) Immediate help for people who need it. $500 tax rebates, supplements to senior's social security, both to be doubled in case of a recession. Unemployment assistance, monetary assistance to state and local government programs in dire straits.
2) Aid to struggling homeowners. Annual tax credits worth 10 percent of mortgage payments. Tougher penalties for predatory lenders. Make comparison shopping for mortgages easier.
3) Longer term solutions for working families. Middle class tax cuts up to $1,000 for 95 percent of working families. Lessoning economic hardship for retirees. Requiring employers to offer direct-deposit savings accounts, which would receive a small match from the government. Instituting a five-star ratings system for credit cards to alert consumers to high-risk lending. Creating a "credit card bill of rights" so that people in debt "pay what's fair, not what's profitable to credit card companies." Lessening negative impact of bankruptcy, especial those caused by medical emergencies. Bring down the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums.
I thought it was a “three-point” package, but he continued on with:
4) Investing in the U.S. economy through education. Notably, instituting a $1,000 annual tuition credit for students engaged in public service such as the Peace Corps. Recruiting and rewarding teachers. Focusing on science and tech in education to compete in the global markets
5) His energy plan. Reduce greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050. I believe he hopes to do this, in part, by instituting some kind of nonrenewable resource tax. He says this will generate about $150 billion, to be invested in renewable energy-related jobs and research.
• "We cannot build our future on a credit card issued by the Bank of China."