Barack Obama spoke in Green Bay, WI this afternoon. He suggested that the collapse on Wall Street is part of a larger government problem and serves as evidence that things must change. Obama also hit his opponent John McCain and his phony change message hard.
“We must reform our lobbyist-driven politics. We must reform the waste and abuse in our government. We must reform the rules of the road that let Wall Street run wild and stuck Main Street with the bill. We must change Washington now. This has been our message from the day we began this campaign. Our opponent, on the other hand, has spent much of the last nineteen months arguing that what qualifies him to be President are the decades he’s spent in Washington,” Obama said.
Obama addressed McCain’s change of heart towards regulation, “But with forty-two days left, he’s had a sudden change of heart. An election-time conversion. After twenty-six years in Washington – years where he voted for the same trickle-down, on-your-own policies that got us into this mess – he now claims that he’s the one who can clean it up.”
He then spoke about McCain’s record, “Well let’s be clear. When it comes to regulatory reform, Senator McCain has fought time and time again against the common-sense rules of the road that could’ve prevented this crisis. His economic plan was written by Phil Gramm, the architect in the US Senate of the de-regulatory steps that helped cause this mess. Even knowing what we know now, Senator McCain said in an interview just last night that de-regulation actually helped grow our economy. Well that might be true for the profits of a few CEOs, but it’s certainly not true for America’s prosperity.”
“When it comes to taking on the special interests, my opponent sounds like Fighting Bob Lafollette. But he acts like a guy who’s spent three decades of his life in Washington. He’s put seven of the biggest corporate lobbyists in charge of his campaign – lobbyists for the insurance industry and the oil industry; for foreign governments and Freddie and Fannie Mac, who paid his campaign manager nearly $2 million to defend them against stricter regulations. I guess they got their money’s worth. And rest assured, those lobbyists who are working day and night to elect my opponent aren’t doing it to put themselves out of business,” Obama continued.
The Democrat took on McCain on earmarks, “When it comes to reforming government waste and spending, Senator McCain talks a lot about earmarks. And while he deserves credit for not requesting many of those earmarks during his time in Congress, what he never mentions is that he voted for 144 billion dollars worth in just six years; or that he voted for four out of the five Bush budgets that have been filled with special interests giveaways and left us with the largest deficit in history.”
Obama accused McCain of pretending that cutting earmarks will solve our budget problems, “But let’s not pretend, as John McCain does, that proposing the elimination of 18 billion dollars of earmarks will make up for the more than 300 billion additional dollars he wants to spend on tax breaks for big corporations and multi-millionaires that don’t need them and weren’t asking for them – more than 300 billion dollars at a time when taxpayers are being asked to help finance two wars and a historic financial bailout. That’s some pretty creative math, but it doesn’t add up to is change. And change in Washington is what we need right now.”
Obama’s plan for government reform is pretty much the same one that he unveiled in the primaries. For the details, you can read about it here. Obama is now in his element. He is at his best once he is able to become the candidate of change against an opponent who is an insider. McCain’s recent stumbles have allowed Obama to return to his strengths.
What is new about Obama’s message is that change has now been expanded to include the economy, jobs, and kitchen table politics. This is what was missing all through the primary campaign. Obama is transitioning from talking about the general concept of change, to discussing how change will help you. As long as Obama can keep the focus on the economy and change, his momentum will continue to build.
We have seen this scenario before with Obama. Once he got Hillary Clinton defined as the insider, he was able to his change message to build momentum which carried him to a string of wins that ultimately won him the nomination. Clinton was able to counter Obama by talking about issues and the economy. Unless the McCain campaign changes their strategy, to mirror Clinton’s, they are probably going to suffer the same fate that she did.