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Obama outlines plan for economy

CLEARWATER, Fla. — CLEARWATER, Fla. - Democratic Sen. Barack Obama outlined yesterday how he would deal with the current economic crisis, hours after his Republican rival for president, Sen. John McCain, again criticized him for failing to show leadership.

Obama explained his proposals, many of which are similar to McCain's. Despite his earlier comments that the harsh economy might delay some of his plans, Obama insisted that the core elements of his campaign - middle-class tax cuts, education aid and energy spending - would not be affected.

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At a news conference in Clearwater, Obama also strongly pushed his plan for a second economic stimulus package and for a bipartisan approach to deal with the current problems.

"The American people need to know that we feel as great a sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as we do about the emergency on Wall Street," Obama said. "We are all in this together, and we must come together as Democrats and Republicans, on Wall Street and on Main Street to solve it."

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The plea for cooperation came as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Securities and Exchange Chairman Christopher Cox testified before the Senate Banking Committee on the administration's proposed $700 billion package to drain bad debt from the balance sheets of banks and financial companies.

The administration is pushing for quick passage of a bill to reassure the gyrating market, but lawmakers are seeking changes, including oversight on how the money is distributed. The administration plan gives the Treasury secretary unilateral control.

Although they have sparred fiercely over the economy, neither candidate is involved in the negotiations over the bill. But national polls repeatedly show that the economy is the main issue on which voters will decide the next president.

Obama and McCain agree that extra oversight is needed, and they have called for overhauling government regulations to bring more transparency and accountability into the markets. Both have urged that the government money not be used to fund golden parachutes for executives whose companies take federal help.

The candidates have used the economic crisis to make their basic arguments. The McCain camp insists that he has demonstrated more leadership, in keeping with its theme that Obama lacks experience.

Campaigning in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, McCain again insisted that his plan has more specifics than Obama's. "The truth is that we don't have time to wait for Senator Obama to address this crisis. Congress must review the current legislation and proposal carefully, and, of course, act quickly," he said.

McCain spoke after touring Nova Machine Products, which supplies parts to nuclear power plants. He called again for the construction of 45 nuclear power plants by 2030, both to ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to create jobs in the energy sector.

Earlier yesterday, Obama said that the large bailout package being negotiated to rescue Wall Street probably would force him, if elected, to delay some of his proposals for health care and education reform, improvement to the nation's infrastructure and investment in a new "green" energy sector.

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"Does that mean I can do everything that I've called for in this campaign right away? Probably not," he said on NBC's Today. "I think we're going to have to phase it in."



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