MADISON, Wis. - As the economic turmoil across the country rages on and a bailout bill waits approval from the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. presidential candidates are trying to portray themselves as best equipped to handle the books in the future.
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Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is taking that message to the airwaves in a new ad that WISC-TV examined in a "Reality Check."
In an ad devoid of deep voiceovers, political cheering or dramatic music, Obama lays out his economic assurances. In 60 seconds though, the ad is long on broad strokes and short on details.
"For eight years, we've been told that the way to a stronger economy was to give huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest, cut oversight on Wall Street, and somehow Americans would benefit," Obama said in the ad. "Well now, we know the truth."
A WISC-TV analysis found that this is a direct swipe at not only the Bush administration, but also at Republican presidential contender John McCain's economic plans. McCain wants to make permanent the tax cuts put forth during Bush's term, which are primarily for those in the highest tax brackets, but also cut taxes by less than 2 percent for those in the bottom brackets. Obama would repeal those tax cuts, and raise taxes for families that make more than $250,000.
"Here's what I'll do as president: End the Wall Street free-for-all with common sense safeguards that put homeowners and struggling families first," Obama said in the ad.
Some clarification is needed as to what those safeguards would be. Obama wants to create what he calls a "homeowner obligation made explicit," or HOME score. He said it would create a score for home-shoppers to compare mortgages and understand the cost of their loan.
Obama also wants to provide a mortage credit to homeowners who don't itemize tax relief. He'd provide a tax credit of 10 percent of the mortgage interest they pay up to $800. How many people will this help? In Wisconsin in 2006, about 30 percent of homeowner tax returns, or just more than 400,000 people didn't itemize. The other 70 percent of state homeowners wouldn't be eligible for the credit, WISC-TV reported.
"Jump-start our economy with a middle-class tax cut paid for by closing special interest loopholes," Obama said in the ad.
Obama has proposed a "making work pay" tax credit, which would be $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. He'd pay for it by ending tax deductions for companies who move their jobs overseas, granted there's no verifiable estimate of how much money doing that would bring in.
"Get serious about energy independence, a 10-year mission to create millions of good-paying jobs by investing in made in America energy and infastructure," the ad said.
This refers to Obama's plan to spend $15 billion a year over 10 years to develop clean energy sources in the U.S. He'd like to boost the renewable energy sector of the economy and provide job training for people to work in it.
With all of these programs, the question is how is it paid for. Obama has outlined cuts in spending in ending the war in Iraq, limiting earmarks and ending the upper end of the Bush tax cuts.
But given the nation's economic strain and expected limits in revenue, we haven't heard much about what programs or proposals might need to take a hit.
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