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Obama points to stimulus plan

CORAL GABLES — Sen. Barack Obama wants an economic stimulus package to directly help consumers but would otherwise defer to federal chiefs to resolve the immediate economic crisis roiling the nation.

Obama declined to reveal a detailed economic plan but spoke broadly Friday about wanting programs to help homeowners, businesses and students struggling with loans during a 30-minute news conference and during a speech to nearly 8,000 at the United Center at the University of Miami. He said he wants to give some space and support to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"I think that it's critical that they have confidence their work might not be impeded by partisan rankling," said Obama, standing beside former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker who advised Obama in a morning meeting, which included Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet by phone.

During his first visit to Florida since the market turmoil heated up, Obama hammered away on the economy and how his philosophies ranging from stronger regulation of markets to revamping health care, would have helped prevent the current financial upheaval.

"There's been a quiet storm going on for a lot of families for years now," he said. "It's not news to them that the economy's not working."

Obama criticized his opponent, Sen. John McCain, who earlier this week said he wanted a high-level commission to study the crisis and come up with a solution.

"That's Washington speak for: Folks, we'll get back to you later," Obama said. "We don't need a commission to study the crisis. We need a president who will solve it and that's the kind of president I intend to be."

Last month in St. Petersburg, Obama unveiled a stimulus proposal that would pump $50-billion into the economy to help states meet their budgets and fund infrastructure projects. He also wants to send $1,000 to households to counter higher energy costs, paid for by taxing "windfall profits" on the oil industry, Obama economic advisor Jason Furman said.

While Obama called for a bipartisan congressional effort to stabilize markets, his push for an economic stimulus package could set the stage for some political bruising. Republicans have been wary of expanding on any proposal the Bush administration sends to Congress and it's unclear whether a stimulus package will be in that mix.

"We have yet to see the proposal from the Treasury Department, but anything beyond what they request will just slow down the help people need," said Michael Steele, a spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.

While the event was originally billed as a rally to woo women in an area that is home to many Hillary Rodham Clinton fans, most attendees said they expected and were relieved Obama had focused on the economy.

Times staff writer Wes Allison contributed to this report.

Obama points to stimulus plan 09/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:09pm]
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