Obama offers new proposals to help economy

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TOLEDO, Ohio–Democratic Barack Obama on Monday called for more immediate steps to heal the nation’s ailing economy, proposing a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures at some banks and a two-year tax break for businesses that create new jobs.

TOLEDO, Ohio–Democratic Barack Obama on Monday called for more immediate steps to heal the nation’s ailing economy, proposing a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures at some banks and a two-year tax break for businesses that create new jobs. The presidential candidate also proposed allowing people to withdraw up to $10,000 from their retirement accounts without any penalty for the remainder of the year and 2009. Obama said his proposals, with a pricetag of $60 billion over two years, can be enacted quickly, either through the government’s regulatory powers or legislation that Congress could pass in a special session after the election. "I’m proposing a number of steps that we should take immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities, and help struggling homeowners," Obama said in prepared remarks. "It’s a plan that begins with one word that’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s spelled j-o-b-s." Obama delivered his economic message in Toledo, a blue-collar city in a state that could be critical to Obama’s presidential hopes. Polls show a close race between Obama and Republican John McCain in Ohio, which decided the 2004 presidential election. At stake are 20 electoral votes. His latest proposals are in addition to other policies the Illinois senator has already offered as the stock market struggles, financial institutions wobble and tight credit chokes the economy. Obama supported the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan and endorsed the latest twist on it: the government buying ownership in major banks and partially nationalizing them to keep them afloat. He also calls for tax breaks for most families, cutting capital gains taxes for investment in small business and extending unemployment benefits. Obama said that banks participating in the federal bailout should temporarily postpone foreclosures for families making good-faith efforts to pay their mortgage. "We need to give people the breathing room they need to get back on their feet," he said, adding that families living beyond their means share some of the responsibility. He also called for a $3,000 tax credit for each additional full-time job a business creates. That means a business that adds five jobs would get a $15,000 break. That would end after 2010 and would cost $40 billion, the campaign estimates. Obama also is proposing letting people withdraw up to 15 percent of their retirement funds, to a maximum of $10,000, without any penalty this year and the next. They would still have to pay normal taxes on the money. He said letting people dip into their IRAs and 401(k)s would help them get through tough times when money is tight. State and local governments face a money crunch, too, and Obama called for new federal short-term loans to help them through the crisis. He called it a "funding backstop" to ensure that states and cities can meet payroll or keep projects moving. AP ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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