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Sen. Barack Obama Delivers Remarks in Martinsville, Va.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008; 4:51 PM

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

OBAMA: ... not only are you feeling more insecure with your job, you can't get rising wages or rising incomes, and the cost of everything from gas to food to health care to trying to send your children to college keep on skyrocketing.

And so what people were doing was for a while home prices were going up, Mark. So you used home equity as a way to make ends meet, make the bills match up with the income coming in.

But then, because of a lack of oversight on Wall Street, because nobody was minding the store when it came to some of these predatory loans that were coming down, suddenly the housing market collapsed -- home foreclosure rates higher than at any time since the Great Depression. So that no longer became an option.

And then people took out credit cards, and you tried to piece a little bit of stuff together with that, except those teaser rates of zero interest suddenly shoot up to 28, 29 percent.

We've got record bankruptcies. And so what's happened now is that not only is harder to save and is it harder to retire.

Not only are jobs more insecure, and people have lost their pensions, as well as their savings, but most importantly, people aren't sure whether that essential part of the American dream -- the idea that if we work hard and we sacrifice, the next generation's going to be a little bit better off than we were -- people aren't sure whether that still holds true.

People feel like the American dream is slipping away. That's what's at stake in this election. We can't keep on going in the same direction that we've been going in.

(APPLAUSE)

We have to fundamentally change how America does business. And if you doubt that -- if you doubt that, let me just ask you a question. How many of you are better off now than you were when George Bush first took office? Go ahead. Raise your hands.

How many are worse off than you were since George Bush took office?

That describes the reality of our politics over the last eight years. And that's the reason I'm running for president of the United States of America, because I want to make sure that the next generation here in Martinsville, here in Henry County, here in Virginia, here in the United States of America has the jobs and the opportunity of the future.

That's what we're fighting for. That's what we're fighting for. And we've got a very real choice in this election. We've got a choice between the senatorial candidates here in Virginia and their vision of the future, and we've got a choice when it comes to the presidential candidates.

Now, John McCain's economic advisors -- this is -- just kind of gives you a sense of how they're thinking -- one of -- one of his top economic advisors a while back -- he called you whiners. He said we're a nation of whiners. We're just going through a mental recession, he said, and if -- if people would just basically stop complaining and get their minds right, then everything would be OK.

Well, I guess he hasn't talked to a work -- a laid-off worker, who's 50 -- 53 years old and has gone back and gone back to school, got retraining, and is still having trouble finding a job that pays even two-thirds of what he was making at the old plant. There's nothing mental about that.

(APPLAUSE)

And I don't see people whining, by the way. The American people don't whine. People work hard. And they don't complain. They'll put up with a lot. What they want is just a chance. They want a fair shot.

People in America -- they love to work. They take pride in work. They don't want it to be easy. They know it's going to be hard. They just want a fair shot. That's what we've got to fight for.

Now, what that means, though, is that we've got to recognize that we can't do things the same way we've been doing them over the last eight years.

John McCain has provided honorable service to our country. But when it comes to his economic policies, he is promising and proposing the same things we've been doing for the last eight years.

Now, just give you an example -- his tax policies. John McCain wants to continue the policies in which companies that ship jobs overseas are still getting tax breaks from the United States government.

You've got companies like Exxon Mobil that have made record profits, that have been able to park $56 billion worth of profits offshore, not pay taxes on them, and not create jobs here in the United States of America.

Now, I don't know about you, but it strikes me that Mark is absolutely right. We live in a global economy. We can't always stop companies from moving. But we sure as heck don't need to give them incentives to move.

We don't have to give them tax breaks to move. We should give companies tax breaks that are investing right here in Martinsville and right here in Henry County. That makes sense to me.

(APPLAUSE)

John McCain wants to -- he doesn't want to provide some additional tax breaks, but you know what? They're going to corporations -- $300 billion worth -- to folks who don't need them and weren't even asking for tax breaks. And what I want to do instead is to provide tax breaks to working families, who are struggling to make -- to make the budget. So I want to say to every family -- each of you get $1,000 per family per year to offset rising costs of fuel, rising costs of food, lower your tax burden.

I want to provide tax relief to homeowners, who don't have big mansions, and so they're not itemizing on their tax returns, but they -- you deserve a deduction on your mortgage interest rate, just like the big -- the folks who own the big homes do.

I want to say to senior citizens, if you're making $50,000 a year or less, you don't have to pay taxes on your Social Security, because you're already having a tough time making ends meet.

(APPLAUSE)

Having a tax code that is fair and that is helping middle class families -- that's part of the choice that we have at stake in this election.

We need a policy to create jobs here in America, so not only do we need to change our tax incentives, but we've also got to invest...

(ENDS AUDIO FEED)

END


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