Description: Discussion #4 - Economy
Candidate: Sen. Obama
Question: How would you, as president, try to break those bad habits of too much debt and too much easy credit, specifically, across the board, for this country, not just at the federal level, but as a model for the rest of the country, as well? ]
BROKAW: Senator Obama, as we begin, very quickly, our discussion period, President Bush, you'll remember, last summer, said that "Wall Street got drunk."
A lot of people now look back and think the federal government got drunk and, in fact, the American consumers got drunk.
How would you, as president, try to break those bad habits of too much debt and too much easy credit, specifically, across the board, for this country, not just at the federal level, but as a model for the rest of the country, as well?
OBAMA: Well, I think it starts with Washington. We've got to show that we've got good habits, because if we're running up trillion dollar debts that we're passing on to the next generation, then a lot of people are going to think, "Well, you know what? There's easy money out there."
It means -- and I have to, again, repeat this. It means looking (ph) at the spending side, but also at the revenue side. I mean, Senator McCain has been talking tough about earmarks, and that's good, but earmarks account for about $18 billion of our budget.
Now, when Senator McCain is proposing tax cuts that would give the average Fortune 500 CEO an additional $700,000 in tax cuts, that's not sharing a burden.
And so part of the problem, I think, for a lot of people who are listening here tonight is they don't feel as if they are sharing the burden with other folks.
I mean, you know, it's tough to ask a teacher who's making $30,000 or $35,000 a year to tighten her belt when people who are making much more than her are living pretty high on the hog.
And that's why I think it's important for the president to set a tone that says all of us are going to contribute, all of us are going to make sacrifices, and it means that, yes, we may have to cut some spending, although I disagree with Senator McCain about an across-the- board freeze.
That's an example of an unfair burden sharing. That's using a hatchet to cut the federal budget.
OBAMA: I want to use a scalpel so that people who need help are getting help and those of us, like myself and Senator McCain, who don't need help, aren't getting it.
That's how we make sure that everybody is willing to make a few sacrifices.