Remarks in La Crosse, Wisconsin
Thank you all very much. I appreciate your all standing in line on a cold Midwestern morning, and I appreciate this warm welcome to the great city of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
I'm here to ask your help in a tough and hard-fought election. My friends, we have 25 days until the time for choosing. Are you ready to help me and Sarah Palin carry the State of Wisconsin?
The stakes couldn't be higher, not only for our nation's security but for our economy. We need to get the American economy back on the path of recovery, and growth, and job creation for American workers.
In this time of crisis, we must go to the heart of the problem, and right now that problem is a housing crisis. And so, in the debate this week with my opponent, I proposed a plan to help home owners across America,
Under my orders, as president, the Secretary of the Treasury will carry out a Homeownership Resurgence Plan. The United States government will support the refinancing of distressed mortgages for homeowners and replace them with manageable mortgages. The funds aren't new, but the priorities will be when we put the financial strength of our government back on the side of working families. With so much on the line, the moment requires that government act - and as president I intend to act, quickly and decisively.
We must also protect investors - especially those relying on their investments for retirement. Current rules mandate that investors must begin to sell off their IRAs and 401Ks when they reach age 70 and one half. To spare investors from being forced to sell their stocks at just the time when the market is hurting the most, those rules should be suspended.
In so many ways, Washington is still on the wrong track. We need change and I know how to deliver it. The status quo is not on the ballot. We are going to see change in Washington. The question is: in what direction will we go?
Will our country be a better place under the leadership of the next president - a more secure, prosperous, and just society? Will you be better off, in the jobs you hold now and in the opportunities you hope for? Will your sons and daughters grow up in the kind of country you wish for them, rising in the world and finding in their own lives the best of America?
And which candidate's experience - in government and in life - makes him a more reliable leader for our country and commander in chief for our troops? In short, who is ready to lead? In a time of trouble and danger for our country, who will put our country first?
In 21 months, during hundreds of speeches, town halls and debates, I have kept my promise to level with you about my plans to reform Washington and get this country moving again.
As a senator, I've seen the corrupt ways of Washington in wasteful spending and other abuses of power. As president I'm going to end these abuses - whatever it takes.
I will propose and sign into law reforms to bring tax relief to the middle class and help to businesses so they can create jobs.... I will get the rising cost of food and gas under control.... I will help families keep their home, and help students struggling to pay for college.... I will make health care more accessible and affordable. ... I will impose a spending freeze on all but the most vital functions of government.
I will review every agency of the federal government, improve those that need to be improved and eliminate those that aren't working for the American people.... I will confront the ten trillion-dollar debt that the federal government has run up, and balance the federal budget by the end of my term in office.
This is the agenda I have set before my fellow citizens. And the same standards of clarity and candor must now be applied to my opponent. We have all heard what he has said, but it is less clear what he has done or what he will do.
Rather than answer his critics, Senator Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked. He has even questioned my truthfulness. And let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don't need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn't seek advice from a Chicago politician.
What was my opponent's actual record in the years before the great economic crisis of our lifetimes?
This crisis started in our housing market in the form of subprime loans that were pushed on people who could not afford them. Bad mortgages were being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was only a matter of time before a contagion of unsustainable debt began to spread.
At the time, I called for tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that could have helped prevent this crisis from happening in the first place. My opponent was silent on the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in. Barack Obama's most notable involvement with the housing issue was to be taking campaign money from executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - the very people who were causing the problem.
On health care, Barack Obama has been misleading on two fronts. Under the plan he has proposed, he will fine employers who do not offer health insurance and put their employees in government health care. What he doesn't say, and what nobody has asked, is how big his fine will be. You deserve an answer, and you sure didn't get in Tuesday night's debate.
So let me give it another try: Someone needs to ask Senator Obama to please specify the amount of the fine he will impose on the employers of America. And while you're at it, ask employers how these new orders and fines from the federal government are going to help them create a single new job in a struggling economy.
Again on taxes, we see a difference between what Senator Obama says today, what he said yesterday, and what he has actually done. During the Democratic primary, he promised to double taxes on every American with a dividend or an investment. He promised to raise payroll taxes. He promised higher taxes on electricity. He voted for the Democratic budget resolution that promised to raise taxes on people making just 42,000 dollars a year.
And now all of the sudden Senator Obama claims he will give 95 percent of Americans tax relief. What he hasn't told you is that he would tax half of the income of small business in America. These are the people who have actually added 350,000 jobs at a time when America lost 700,000 jobs. They are the backbone of our economy, and our best hope to get America back on track. When I'm president, their taxes are going down instead of up, and we're going to help them create jobs for America.
On spending, Barack Obama will increase government spending by over 860 billion dollars. That's on top of the trillions in debt that we've already burdened our children and grandchildren with. He claimed in our debate that somehow he'll still end up with a net cut in spending, Only Barack Obama could sell an 860 billion dollar federal spending increase as a net reduction in federal spending.
When I'm president, the spending reductions will be real, and I'll cut the size of government. I will put the government back on the side of America's working families, and I will get this country moving again.
Then there's the matter of earmarks. In his three short years in the Senate, he has requested nearly a billion dollars in pork-barrel projects for his state - a million dollars for every day he's been in office.
In our debate, I mentioned the example of the more than 3 million dollars he sought for a new projector at a planetarium in his hometown. I could have mentioned his vote for that bridge to nowhere, but the planetarium is in some ways a more interesting case. I guess it was sheer coincidence that the chairman of that planetarium pledged to raise more than $200,000 for Senator Obama's campaign. Even the appearance of this kind of insider-dealing disgusts Americans. I'm going to put a stop to that, my friends, if I'm President.
Washington is on the wrong track and I'm going to set it right. The American people know my record. They know I am going to change Washington, because I've done it before.
They know I'm going to reform our broken institutions in Washington and on Wall Street because I've done it before. They know I'm going to deliver relief to the middle class, because that's what I've done.
You don't have to hope that things will change when you vote for me. You know things will change, because I have been fighting for change in Washington my whole career. I've been fighting for you my whole life. That's what I'm going to do as President of the United States. Fight for you and put the government back on the side of the people. Thank you.
John McCain, Remarks in La Crosse, Wisconsin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/284492