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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama: Bailout Likely To Delay Health Care, Education And Other Spending Programs


TAMPA, Fla. — Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday any plan to rescue Wall Street from its financial woes must ensure that taxpayers are reimbursed and corporate executives are not further enriched for bad behavior.

The Democratic presidential candidate also accused President Bush of taking a "my way or the highway" attitude on the proposed bailout.

Obama added that his proposed middle-class tax cuts remain "absolutely necessary" despite the economic turbulence. He said it would put money in the pockets of working families at a time when the economy may be sliding into recession.

Obama outlined several principles that he said should be included in the $700 billion bailout to ensure that troubled financial firms and their executives don't take advantage of taxpayers.

Companies that take financial aid from the government must slash their executives' salaries, he said. Taxpayers must be treated like investors who can share in any Wall Street recovery, perhaps with an ownership stake in the companies, and a new fee on financial services should be created to repay the government aid.

"This plan cannot be a welfare program for Wall Street executives," he said at a news conference.

Decisions on how to spend that $700 billion cannot be left solely in the hands of the Treasury secretary, Obama added. An independent board should be chosen by Democrats and Republicans "to provide oversight and accountability at every step of the way."

Earlier, in an interview on "Today," Obama had said the huge expense of a Wall Street bailout might require a "phase in" of the programs he has promised, including tax cuts.

But speaking to reporters in Florida, where he will be preparing for Friday's debate, Obama said he remains committed to addressing needs in health care, education and energy. "Tax cuts would be particularly important to strengthen an economy sliding into economic recession," he said.

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