ABC News’ David Wright and Sunlen Miller report from Bettendorf, Iowa: Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama today unveiled what he called his "American Dream Agenda," a combination of tax credits, business reforms, and other economic proposals he says will ease the financial burdens of middle class families.
"I believe we have to reclaim the American Dream," Obama said, "That starts with reclaiming the White House from George Bush and Dick Cheney."
But the Illinois senator said President Bush is not wholly to blame for the hardships of middle class families. He said, "These problems didn’t start when he came to office and they won’t end just because he’s leaving."
Among the specific ideas Obama outlined:
- Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to include paid leave,
- Double the funding of after-school programs,
- Provide an additional tax credit to middle class families, covering 10% of their annual mortgage interest payments,
- Establish a $4,000 dollar tax rebate for parents of children enrolling in college,
- Reform bankruptcy laws in favor of debtors and
- Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights, that would stop unilateral changes to credit card agreements and ban interest on late fees.
Couching his "American Dream Agenda" as part of his overall message of change, Obama acknowledged that some of his proposed reforms might be difficult to pass.
"We’ll hear from the can’t-do, won’t-do, won’t-even-try crowd in Washington," he said, "The special interests and their lobbyists; the conventional thinking that says this country is just too divided to make progress."
Some of the details in Obama’s plan are repackaged from his other policy statements. For instance, he talked about the urgent need for health care reform.
"And mark my words, I will sign this bill at the end of my first term as President," Obama said, adding what appeared to be a veiled swipe at Hillary Clinton: "Not 10 years from now. Not 15 years from now."