TOLEDO, Ohio (AFP) — Democrat Barack Obama rolled out a new plan Monday to get the stricken US economy back on its feet as he vied to drive home his growing poll advantage over Republican White House rival John McCain.
Obama said his proposals, including tax credits for new job creation and a moratorium on home foreclosures, were urgently needed to address the crisis seeping beyond Wall Street into the rest of the world's largest economy.
"We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle-class and we need to do it now," the Illinois senator said in remarks prepared for delivery at a rally here, three weeks out from election day on November 4.
"We can't wait to help workers and families and communities who are struggling right now -- who don't know if their job or their retirement will be there tomorrow; who don't know if next week's paycheck will cover this month's bills," he said.
The financial crisis has helped push Obama to a 10-point lead over McCain in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, with a barrage of negative character attacks from the Republican failing to stop the Democrat's march.
Obama was on 53 percent to 43 percent for McCain, with 90 percent of registered voters saying the country is on the wrong track, according to the poll.
The Democrat's campaign said his latest proposals combined with previously announced policy measures would cost 175 billion dollars over two years.
But economic adviser Jason Furman said the plan was fully costed, paid for in part by higher taxes on top earners, and said "our biggest priority is to avoid a painful recession."
"Senator Obama believes he can't not afford to keep his promise to cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families," he added, insisting the crisis would not derail the Democrat's signature economic commitment.
The plan would extend a temporary tax credit of 3,000 dollars for each new job created in the United States by firms over the next two years.
It would permit families to withdraw up to 10,000 dollars from their retirement accounts penalty-free, and create a new lending facility for states and localities to have access to funds beyond the frozen credit markets.
And it would impose a 90-day moratorium on the threat of foreclosure for homeowners who are trying "in good faith" to keep up with repayments to a lender benefiting from the Wall Street bailout passed by Congress.
"We need to give people the breathing room they need to get back on their feet," said Obama, whose proposals came after McCain admitted in Virginia that he was behind in the polls but could still come back.
The Democrat's campaign noted that McCain's speech contained no new policy proposals despite indications that he would be rolling out his own economic offensive to try to wrest back the initiative.
"Less than 12 hours after his campaign announced that Senator McCain would finally have some new ideas on the economy, he decided that it was more important to give a new political speech about where he is in the polls," Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said.
"But the American people know that this election isn't about who's up or who's down, it's about who will change the disastrous Bush-McCain economic policies of the last eight years."
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