Hour Two: Candidates Square Off on the Economy Barack Obama and John McCain are setting out to define their differences on the economy.
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Hour Two: Candidates Square Off on the Economy

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Hour Two: Candidates Square Off on the Economy

Hour Two: Candidates Square Off on the Economy

Hour Two: Candidates Square Off on the Economy

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91371632/91371602" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Barack Obama and John McCain are setting out to define their differences on the economy.

BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

(Soundbite of music)

MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, reef madness. I'm Mike Pesca.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Wednesday, June 11th. Reef madness?

PESCA: June 11th, 2008? This brings me back to June 11th, 1770.

MARTIN: Does it?

PESCA: Yes. A simpler time, when we're told that Captain Cook ran his ship aground, thus discovering the Great Barrier Reef.

MARTIN: Ah!

PESCA: When I read that, at first there was one of these, This Date In History, Captain Cook discovers Great Barrier Reef - I'm like, impressive - by running his ship into it, not impressive.

MARTIN: Not so much.

PESCA: Is that, in fact, a discovery? It's almost like the first white guy to be shot by a Native American. John, you have an arrow in your side! No, I've just discovered arrows. So I was looking up...

MARTIN: Always looking for the silver lining.

PESCA: I was looking up the Great Barrier Reef, and I came - I went to Wikipedia. Actually it was something called Simple English Wikipedia, which is for like kids and people who don't know English that well. Here's what it said...

MARTIN: And you.

PESCA: Yeah. The Great Barrier Reef, located near Queensland, Australia, the world's largest coral reef, it stretches for 2,300 kilometers. Ben Dover discovered it in 11 June 1770.

MARTIN: Ben Dover?

PESCA: Ben Dover! Like, oh, someone must have just done that. No. That change was made on May 25th. For almost a month, or for a number of weeks now, Ben Dover is being credited with having discovered the Great Barrier Reef. Change it! I know it's Simple English Wikipedia, but come on.

MARTIN: Get it right, people. Get it right!

PESCA: It should be accurate. Wikipedia, damn you.

MARTIN: I know. OK. On the show this hour...

PESCA: Other transportation issues besides ships running aground.

MARTIN: Yeah. Four-dollar gasoline, still talking about it, because it's not going down anytime soon, folks. So why not get a fuel-efficient car? But when a car company pitches you fuel-efficient, is it really?

PESCA: Really?

MARTIN: Really, is it?

PESCA: Really?

MARTIN: Or is it just slick marketing? It may be, turns out, as it is so many times, a little bit of both.

PESCA: I hate when that happens.

MARTIN: I know. I just want...

PESCA: I want one or the other, like, give me one.

MARTIN: Me, too. I'm so sick of a little bit of both.

PESCA: They're so slick.

MARTIN: Anyway, we'll get more answers with Ray Wert from Jalopnik.com.

PESCA: Is he a blogger or a journalist?

MARTIN: A little bit of both.

PESCA: A little bit of both. We'll also launch the next book in the BPP Book Club.

MARTIN: And breaking the senatorial rule of white guys in TV news and Drank, ever heard of it? It's an anti-energy drink. I'm not super sure what that means, but we're going to find out. We'll get the day's news headlines in just a minute, but first...

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: With the he-said/she-said of the Democratic race barely behind us, the he-said/he-said of the general election has just begun. This week, presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, and his Republican counterpart, John McCain, are setting out to define their differences on the economy.

MARTIN: McCain has changed his mind on the Bush tax cuts. He used to oppose them, saying they favored the wealthy. Now, he's advocating to extend them to jumpstart the economy. Obama would let them expire, thereby increasing taxes on those making more than a quarter million dollars a year.

PESCA: Speaking to a group of small-business owners yesterday, McCain took a traditional Republican stance, saying he'd reduce the corporate tax. He also said he would phase out the alternative minimum tax for middle-class families. He said an Obama presidency would mean more taxes and not just for those quarter-million-dollar earners.

(Soundbite of speech)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; 2008 Presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate): Under Senator Obama's tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise, seniors, parents, small-business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market.

PESCA: Obama, though, went for the classic Democratic position, tax cuts for the middle class, specifically a plan to ease taxes for families earning less than 75,000 a year, and he said he'd eliminate the capital gains tax for small businesses. Speaking to Michele Norris on All Things Considered yesterday, Obama had this to say of McCain's plan.

(Soundbite of NPR's All Things Considered)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate): I think it's going to be very important, as the debate goes forward over the next several months, for reporters and the public to ask John McCain, how are you going to justify 300 billion dollars in additional tax breaks for corporations, and not lower taxes for the middle class? How are you going to pay for it?

MARTIN: Also in his remarks yesterday, McCain echoed something he said numerous times in Republican presidential debates, that his presidency would mean an end to pork barrel spending.

(Soundbite of speech)

Sen. MCCAIN: I will veto every single beer - bill with earmarks and every single bill that we have come across my desk, I will make them famous. I will veto them. You will know their names.

PESCA: Yes. He said beer instead of bill. That's a slip of the tongue. I do it all the time. McCain looks at the states in which Obama lost in the primaries, states with shrinking manufacturing bases like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Michele Norris also asked Obama how he'd connect with the white, working-class voters that so far he's failed to connect with.

(Soundbite of NPR's All Things Considered)

Sen. OBAMA: I lost those states to Senator Hillary Clinton who had a similar economic agenda to mine. I didn't lose those states to John McCain, who has no economic agenda to address the problems in those states.

MARTIN: McCain is looking back further than the primaries. Obama's repeatedly characterized a McCain presidency as a third Bush term. For his part, McCain said Monday that Obama is, quote, "running for Jimmy Carter's second." You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on that story. Now, let's turn for more of the day's news headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

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