Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 559
Here at DMACC's auto shop building for an Obama event on the topic of the economic impact of the Iraq war. I've managed to weasel press credentials for the event, so instead of being with the Great Unwashed Masses today, I'll be hanging with the Mega Unwashed Masses instead.
Speaking of which, I see AP, Radio Iowa, and, of course, the ubiquitous Majors so far.
9:51 - no air condition in this building! Yeech! Event is scheduled to kick off at 10:30.
9:57 - Campaign staff is doing an Obama trivia quiz from the podium.
9:58 - looks like about 250 people in the building.
10:07 - correction: Obama's campaign estimates 500 people in the building.
10:14 - Barack is in the building.
10:17 - Obama takes the podium.
10:18 - Acknowledgements: Tom Miller, the Polk Country Democratic party officials and elected officials. Says this is designed to be a Town Hall meeting, so won't be giving a long speech; emphasis will be on Q&A.
10:19 - Wall Street is doing great, Main Street is struggling. How will ordinary worker meet expenses for health care, education, etc.? Stats touted by the administration don't tell this story.
10:21 - This process has been going on for some time, Obama says. Recalls moving to Chicago in the early 1980's, the steel mill closures and layoffs of that time. As globalization goes forward, the experience of the steel industry is being repeated across many other sectors of the economy. We need to figure out to make globalization work not just for Wall Street and Corporate America, but for ordinary Americans.
10:25 - Globalization cannot be stopped in its tracks; some lost jobs will not come back from overseas. What to do?
1) close tax incentives for companies to move jobs overseas - calls this a "no brainer."
2) give workers a "solid safety net." Workers today won't hold the same job for decades. Workers should not lose health insurance when they change jobs; we need universal healthcare, and he touts his plans. Huge applause.
Loud noise in the building! They're firing up the air conditioning. Biggest applause so far!
10:29 - need to improve pension savings incentives, pension security and Social Security.
3) create incentives for investment in new industries here in the U.S. Cites alternatives fuels as an example, touts his energy plan.
10:31 - invest in broadband internet access, and life-long learning opportunities; touts education plan.
We can do all this, Obama says. If we can find $275 million for the war, we can find that same kind of money to strengthen the domestic economy. Sustained applause. Quotes stats about what the IA03 Congressional district could have bought with the money sent from here to Iraq for the war. Long list!
10:35 - these things cannot be done with the war still waging. Again says war is wrong, recalls his opposition to the war back in 2002. Says surge "clearly has not worked;" not a single benchmark laid out by the President will be met. Time to "bring our combat troops home and stop having them in the midst of a civil war."
10:37 - last word on Iraq policy does not rest with the White House. Congress will take up redeployment legislation soon, and cracks are starting to show in the GOP, so its important to contact congressional reps to urge support for redeployment.
10:38 - end of formal remarks, on to Q&A. First questions is on No Child Left Behind. Obama says you can't leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind. Nice line!
10:41 - question from doctor about diabetes. I remember this guy from the Hillary Clinton GMA health care town hall. Asks about prevention funding. Obama says only about 4% of every healthcare dollar goes to prevention, which makes ours a disease care system, not a health care system. Cites obesity rate increases over the last 25 years, stresses need for people to exercise. Would also include chronic care management aspect of his health care plan.
10:45 - Would sign stem cell research authorization as president. White House should be driven by science and fact, not ideology.
10:46 - Question from audience about Obama's work as a community organizer. Obama says he learned that certain common values extend across community lines, and this helps him work with people to find common ground. Also says he learned that regular people need to be involved in the political process to achieve change.
10:50 - question from a senior citizen who says "I've been studying health care since you were a pup." Questioner says insurance companies take all the money and produce nothing. Urges Obama to consider Medicare for All. Obama replies that this proposal is part of his overall health care plan. Says he will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
10:53 - another health care question, this time focused on veterans health care. Obama says the GI Bill's benefits should never expire, and will introduce legislation to do this next week. Also says improved PTSD treatment will be needed for vets returning from Iraq. VA care system is good, Obama says, but takes too long for vets to get accepted, and when they do, VA facilities can be too far away; these vets should be allowed to access private health care facilities at VA rates.
10:58 - how will Obama work with the International Community to stabilize Iraq? Obama says we need to be as "careful getting out as we were careless getting in" to Iraq; says he would bring troops out of combat positions, bring some of them home, and leave a "residual force" to support logistics and go after terrorists. Some might be in other mid-east countries besides Iraq. Start with regional allies like Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to stabilize Iraq. But would go further and work with our enemies; cites Ronald Reagan working with the USSR during the Cold War as an example. Also says we need to strengthen the military effort in Afghanistan. Adds we need to make troop rotations more fair.
11:03 - question on nuclear weapons. Richardson will cut arsenals by half, Biden will reduce arsenal to 10,000 weapons; what would Obama do? Obama says he's been working on arms control for years. Says unsecured nukes are most dangerous threat to American safety. Would work to restart talks with Russia; hasn't settled on a number of weapons yet. Says Bush administration has rejected agreements already in place from his own father.
11:06 - question on WTO and NAFTA. Obama says global trade isn't all bad, can produce greater international stability through expanded economic prosperity. Says problem comes when the process is tilted in favor of corporate interests and against the interests of ordinary workers. Says every trade agreement we enter into must contain strong labor and environmental safeguards to prevent child labor, prison labor and unsafe working conditions. Also says he wants fast track trade agreement authority as president. Says we need to be better negotiators of trade agreements so we derive more benefit from the agreements. Cites agreements with China and South Korea as those which could be improved. Says "as President of the United States, I'm not just representing Wall Street and Goldman Sachs," but workers as well.
11:14 - Last Question: what criteria would Obama use in choosing a Vice President and cabinet?
1) integrity. Cites ethics legislation he's introducing to prevent revolving door lobbying.
2) competence: "no more Brownies."
3 ) independence: "I want someone who will say no to me, who tells me when I'm wrong...other than my wife." Would listen to everybody, including Republicans, and then exercise good judgment in making decisions.
11:18 - and we're done! Press is packing up, and my laptop is running on battery fumes, so I'll conclude live blogging now. But I'll be back with some wrap up thoughts and analysis later on.
11:19 - Wait! Obama is back on the stage. Says he forgot to appeal to voters for support, does so now!
11:20 - OK, now we're done. Really. Please check back later for the wrap up.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 559