- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday called for Americans to get behind attempts to salvage a $700 billion rescue plan for the financial sector, saying that if Wall Street fails ordinary people will also be hurt.

“This is no longer just a Wall Street crisis. It’s an American crisis, and it’s the American economy that needs this rescue plan,” Mr. Obama told about 12,000 people at a rally at the University of Nevada at Reno.

Mr. Obama said Congress should put aside politics he didn’t mention GOP rival John McCain by name during his remarks and should act quickly on the legislation.

“To the Democrats and Republicans who opposed this plan yesterday, I say: Step up to the plate and do what’s right for this country,” he said. “And to all Americans, I say this: If I am president of the United States, this rescue plan will not be the end of what we do to strengthen this economy. It will only be the beginning.”

Also read: Analysis: With bailout, McCain reaches dead end

The House on Monday rejected the Bush administration’s $700 billion proposal, its 228-205 vote sparking the largest sell-off on Wall Street since the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Mr. Obama, McCain and President Bush all indicated support for the plan, but the legislation was highly unpopular with the public, as well as ideological groups on the left and the right.

Mr. Obama called for bipartisanship in a time of financial crisis.

“While there is plenty of blame to go around and many in Washington and on Wall Street who deserve it, all of us now have a responsibility to solve this crisis because it affects the financial well-being of every single American,” he said. “There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out.”

In response, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said: “We welcome Barack Obama’s newfound interest in passing this critical economic rescue of our economy, but the American people needed leadership last week and our next president can’t wait until after the levees break to start making phone calls.”

Mr. McCain suspended campaigning last week, saying he would return to Washington and stay there until the crisis was solved. He reversed course days later and headed to Mississippi for last Friday’s debate with his rival. Obama did not bring his campaign to a halt, but did return to Washington to attend a White House meeting with Bush, congressional leaders and McCain.

Mr. Obama said he had talked with Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other leaders Tuesday about resurrecting the recovery plan. He also sought to reassure the public, saying the plan had been “misunderstood and poorly communicated.”

“This is not a plan to just hand over $700 billion of your money to a few banks on Wall Street,” the Illinois senator said.

Without a rescue for the financial sector, ordinary people will soon begin to suffer, Mr. Obama said.

“If we do not act, it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to go to college or a loan you need to buy a car to get to work,” Mr. Obama said.

“What it means is that businesses won’t be able to get the loans they need to open new factories, or hire more workers or make payroll for the workers they have. What it means is that thousands of businesses could close around the country. Millions of jobs could be lost,” he said.

Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain announced separately their backing for a plan that some House Republicans had pushed earlier: raising the federal deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000. The aim would be to reassure nervous consumers, shore up the economy and helping small businesses.

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