Obama calls for immediate action on financial crisis at UNR speech | SierraSun.com

Obama calls for immediate action on financial crisis at UNR speech

Geoff Dornan
Sun News Service
Seth Lightcap / Sierra SunDemocratic presidential candidate Barack Obama speaks during a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008 in Reno, Nev.
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RENO ” Sen. Barack Obama told a crowd that packed the quad at the University of Nevada, Reno Tuesday, it’s time for Congress to put politics aside and pass legislation to fix the economic crisis.

“Over one trillion dollars of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed on Monday,” he said. “And it wasn’t just the wealth of a few CEOs or Wall Street executives.”

He said people have to understand that everyone in the nation will be hurt if the situation isn’t fixed. He said the losses will hit everyone’s 401K and retirement accounts, pension funds for teachers and government employees. And he said a recession, if not averted, could cost millions of jobs.

“The fact that we are in this mess is an outrage,” he told the estimated 12,000 who turned out to see him. “It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident.”

Obama blamed “the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years.”

For the lobbyists who Obama said pushed through the deregulation that made that conduct possible, he said they won’t have control after the election.

“They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of the American people.”

But he said the immediate task is to fix the situation.

“There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now if the moment for us to come together and put the fire out,” he said.

“We must act and we must act now. We cannot have another day like yesterday,” he said referring to the 770 point dive the stock market took Monday when the House failed to pass the economic rescue plan.

He said in addition to helping stabilize the banking industry and stock market, the plan needs to help homeowners struggling to keep their homes.

And he said it cannot become a welfare program for Wall Street executives. If done right, he said the government will be able to sell the assets it buys to stabilize the situation and, hopefully, get back most if not all of the $700 billion estimated cost ” “or possibly even turn a profit on the government’s investment, every penny of which will go directly back to you, the investor, or to pay down the national debt.”

Obama admitted less money flowing to the Treasury during the coming year may delay some programs he has proposed. Others, he said, cannot be put off.

Among the issues he said can’t want, are tax cuts for the middle class. He repeated his pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans ” everyone making less than $250,000 a year.

“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.”

He promised health care reforms that will make affordable care available for all and said he will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who most need that care.

He said he would recruit “an army” of new teachers and pay them more.

“But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability,” he said.

He repeated his pledge to help every young American willing to commit to community service an affordable college education, drawing applause from the large number of students in the crowd.

He said improvements to the nation’s roadways and bridges can’t wait, nor can funding to develop renewable energy sources that lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

And he promised to put common sense rules into the nation’s outdated financial regulations, “rules that will make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that cause this crisis again.”

He told the crowd he is excited by the number of young people involved in this year’s campaign season.

“You are not bystanders to history,” he said. “You are makers of history and that gets me excited.

Because of the financial crisis and tentative congressional plans to reconvene Wednesday, McCain canceled his scheduled Thursday stop in Reno. It was not yet known whether President George Bush would also cancel his scheduled Friday speech in Reno.