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Obama Adds $60 Billion to Economic Plan; McCain Expected to Unveil Proposals Today

John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin greet supporters in Virginia Beach. Thousands of Hampton Roads residents attended the rally. Story, B1.
John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin greet supporters in Virginia Beach. Thousands of Hampton Roads residents attended the rally. Story, B1. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
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By Robert Barnes and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TOLEDO, Oct. 13 -- Democrat Barack Obama advocated an immediate and expensive economic assistance package Monday, while Republican John McCain readied a set of specific new proposals of his own, as the candidates entered a three-week sprint toward a presidential election that appears certain to turn on fixing the nation's faltering economy.

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Obama consulted with Democratic congressional leaders and then proposed an additional $60 billion in tax breaks and other benefits for his economic stimulus plan. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they favor a lame-duck session of Congress immediately after the Nov. 4 election to pass such a measure.

"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," Obama said at a speech here.

McCain delayed announcing new proposals until Tuesday, and he used a speech in Virginia Beach to offer a gloomy assessment of the country's financial status, present himself as the tested leader ready to address problems, and to separate himself from the policies of President Bush.

In the face of new polls that showed a widening Obama lead, McCain instead bucked up a boisterous crowd of about 12,000 with a pledge to "never give up" the fight to lead the nation.

"Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator [Harry M.] Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections and concede defeat in Iraq," he said. "You know what they forgot? They forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."

In delving more and more into the specifics of potential financial remedies, Obama and McCain are moving beyond trying to convince voters that he is best prepared to handle the crisis to offering specific proposals for relief, particularly to voters who think that "Main Street" was not addressed when Congress passed a plan to rescue Wall Street.

Polls show that the economy is by far the most important issue to voters. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News survey, 53 percent of respondents said it will be the decisive issue, as opposed to 11 percent who cited national security.

Having specific programs and proposals may also be crucial in Wednesday night's final presidential debate, in Hempstead, N.Y., which is slated to focus on domestic issues.

Obama largely avoided mention of McCain on Monday and instead focused on his new proposals.

"It's a plan that begins with one word that's on everyone's mind, and it's spelled J-O-B-S," he said.

The proposals include:


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