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Sen. Barack Obama Speaks in La Crosse, Wisconsin

This will only work if there is real enforcement and real accountability. And that starts with presidential leadership. So let me be very clear: when I am President, financial institutions will do their part and pay their share, and American taxpayers will never again have to put their money on the line to pay for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street. That's a pledge that I'll make to you today, and it's one that I'll keep as President of the United States.

Accountability must start with this rescue plan, but it cannot end there. Across Wisconsin -- and across the country -- families are sitting down at the kitchen table and making hard choices. You're planning for your future in tough times. You're squeezing just a little bit more out of next month's paycheck so you can pay next month's bills. It's time for Washington to do the same.

We cannot mortgage our children's future on a mountain of debt. It's time to put an end to the run-away spending and the record deficits -- it's not how you would run your family budget, and it must not be how Washington handles your tax dollars. It's time to return to the fiscal responsibility and pay as you go budgeting that we had in the 1990s. Many in Congress have been fighting for these common-sense principles, and I will be a President who supports them and makes sure they succeed. That's why I'm not going to stand here and simply tell you what I'm going to spend -- I'm going to start by telling you how we're going to save when I am President.

I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate the programs that don't work and aren't needed. We should start by ending a war in Iraq that is costing us $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. We should stop sending $15 billion a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare, and go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. We need to stop sending three billion a year to banks that provide student loans the government could provide for less. And we can end the hundreds of millions a year in subsidies to agribusiness that can survive just fine without your tax dollars, and use some of the money to help struggling family farmers. That's what I'll do as President.

And we can't stop there. We lose $100 billion every year because corporations set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America. In the Senate, I worked across the aisle to crack down on these schemes. And as President, I will shut down those offshore tax havens and all those corporate loopholes once and for all. You shouldn't have to pay higher taxes because some big corporation cut corners to avoid paying theirs. All of us have a responsibility to pay our fair share. That's accountability. And that's what we'll have when I'm President.

As for the programs we do need, I will make them work better and cost less. I will create a High-Performance Team of experts that evaluates every agency and every office based on how well they're serving the American taxpayer. I will save billions of dollars by cutting private contractors and improving management and oversight of the hundreds of billions of dollars our government spends on contracts. And I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all -- the days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I'm in the White House.

Make no mistake: we need to end an era in Washington where accountability has been absent, oversight has been overlooked, and your tax dollars have been turned over to wealthy CEOs and well- connected corporations. You need leadership that you can trust to work for you -- not for the special interests who have had their thumb on the scale. And together, we will tell the Washington lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded this campaign, they won't work in my White House, and they won't drown out the voices of the American people when I'm President.


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