McCain: Administration Must Act On Foreclosures
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Another disappointing unemployment report got the attention of the two men seeking employment at the White House. John McCain and Barack Obama both point to the nearly half a million new jobless claims as another sign the economy is moving in the wrong direction. And each candidate argues he has the better plan to fix the problem. We'll hear from Senator Obama in a moment. First, here is NPR's Scott Horsley, who's traveling with the McCain campaign.
SCOTT HORSLEY: John McCain started yesterday at the All Star Building Materials Company in Ormond Beach, Florida, where owner Tom Crowe is having a tough time.
MONTAGNE: I have closed an All Star location in Jacksonville, and I have laid off 130 employees this past year. The four hardest for me to let go were my own children.
HORSLEY: The owner of a local kitchen supply company told a similar story. Florida has the nation's second highest foreclosure rate. So, nearly every business connected with the housing market has suffered. McCain suggests the Federal Government use some of its financial bailout money to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages into cheaper fixed-rate loans.
HORSLEY: I call on the administration to act now and buy up these home loan mortgages and keep people in their homes.
HORSLEY: Despite similar economic policies, McCain has been trying in recent days to distance himself from the unpopular Bush administration.
HORSLEY: And why isn't the secretary of the Treasury ordering them to do that?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "LIFE IS A HIGHWAY")
RASCAL FLATTS: (Singing) Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long.
HORSLEY: McCain's campaign bus then rolled west along interstate four between Orlando and Tampa. The geographic and political center of Florida, this is where many elections are won or lost in the state, a battleground within a battleground. McCain's bus pulled off the highway every so often at a farm stand, a dentist office, or a Latin restaurant.
HORSLEY: We're glad to be here. We're talking to small business people all over the state of Florida and all over America.
HORSLEY: The campaign dubbed this trip his Joe the Plumber bus tour in honor of the Ohio man who questioned Barack Obama about his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy. McCain says the tax hike aimed at those making more than a quarter million dollars a year would also rope in a lot of small businesses and he adds small business is one of the few parts of the economy that's still adding jobs.
HORSLEY: We don't want to raise anybody's taxes in a bad economy in America today.
HORSLEY: In Plant City east of Tampa, McCain samples some strawberry shortcake, noting that's a tradition among winning presidential candidates in Florida. The superstitious McCain badly needs a win of his own here in order to have a shot at the White House. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Sarasota, Florida.
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