by Paula C. Squires
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama didn’t forget to let businesses know what he would do for them during a campaign rally today at the Richmond Coliseum. With only 13 days left until the election, a crowd of more than 13,000 packed into the building to watch as Sen. Obama exhorted Virginia — a battleground state — to back a Democratic nominee for the first time since 1964.
“Businesses large and small are finding it impossible to get loans,” he said. “Some of them can’t make payroll or buy equipment.”
Overall, the country has lost 750,000 jobs this year, he continued. “Wages are lower … Health-care costs are going up. The question isn’t whether you are better off than you were four years ago,” said Obama. “It’s whether you’re better off than you were four weeks ago.”
He accused Republican presidential nominee John McCain of trying to divert attention away from the recent economic crisis. “That’s what you do when you are out of ideas, out of touch and running out of time,” he added to thunderous applause.
Obama didn’t stray from his usual stump speech. As the crowd chanted “Yes we can,” he called for change that would provide “an economic rescue plan for the middle class.” The senator supports new tax credits for businesses that invest and hire in the U.S. To help small businesses, Obama said he would eliminate capital gains taxes and grant emergency loans to help businesses create jobs.
According to him, 98 percent of the small business owners in the country earn less than $250,000 a year, and thus would benefit from his proposed tax cut. Contrary to what some critics have said about his plan, Obama told the crowd, “You won’t see your taxes go up one dime … not your payroll taxes, your capital gains taxes.”
Calling the recent $700 billion bailout for the financial services industry a “necessary first step,” Obama says more needs to be done to return the economy to a solid footing. He promised immediate economic relief for the states and a foreclosure prevention fund to help people stay in their homes. “They shouldn’t have to go to the back of the line behind CEOs and mortgage banks,” he said. “It’s time to try something new.”
Obama also wants to put 2 million Americans to work rebuilding “our crumbling roads and schools. If we can spend $10 billion a month on Iraq,” he said, (referring to the war) “we can spend some money rebuilding America.”
Some of the people who attended today’s rally stood in line for hours for the chance to see Obama. One woman, Veronica K. Jackson of Richmond, said she arrived at the coliseum at 7:30 a.m. “I’m frozen,” she declared, upon gaining admittance about three hours later. Jackson, a 44-year-old employee of the non profit Daily Planet organization, which runs a shelter for the homeless, said she braved the morning chill, because “I wanted to show him that I am supporting him. I believe Obama is what this nation needs to unify us and help us learn.”
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