Times-Republican: Obama visits Marshalltown
By Ken Black
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., knows that many freshman senators do not seek to become president, but he considers his lack of time in Washington an asset.
"It's true I haven't been in Washington as long as some of the other candidates," Obama said to a group at Marshalltown Community College Friday. "But I have been in Washington long enough to know it needs to change."
What exactly does Obama want to change? Between stops in Marshalltown that included the college and the Iowa Veterans Home, Obama unleashed a laundry list of proposals and ideas.
Some of those included better care for veterans, a timetable for withdrawl in Iraq, universal healthcare, better teacher pay and better ways to finance a college education.
Obama believes the U.S. could pull out of Iraq, and do so responsibly, by March 31, 2008. Obama said that as long as the U.S. military is in Iraq, the problem leading to the violence will not be solved.
"We cannot bring a military solution to what, essentially, is a political problem," the senator said.
Obama also noted where he would differ in policy from the current administration in waging wars.
"If I send young men and women into war I will do so based on the very best intelligence and soundest judgment," he said. "I won't send young men and women into war unless I would send my own children."
A withdrawl from Iraq was not the only timetable he set.
"By the end of my first term ... I believe we can have universal healthcare," he told the audience, estimated at nearly 600 between the standing-room only main room and an overflow room.
Most of that would be funded through preventative medicine programs that he said would lead to efficiencies in medical care because more expensive treatments would be utilized less. He also said it was time to find a way to create larger pools for healthcare coverage and mentioned the program that is available to federal employees, including federally-elected officials.
"If you guys are my boss, why is it I have better health insurance than you do?" he asked.
Regarding immigration, Obama noted that there are millions of people currently living in the country under an illegal status. He said that tighter border security is something that must happen, but also said there have to be provisions in place for those already here.
"I don't believe our country is so small we think we can't accommodate them," Obama said. "And as a practical matter, we can't send 15 million people back home. It's not going to happen."
Instead, Obama said a better solution is allowing those people to stay and putting them on a path to citizenship that includes paying a fine, learning English, not engaging in other criminal activities, and going to the "back of the line."
The presidential hopeful also advocated paying teachers more but holding them more accountable for student achievement. But he said they cannot do it alone. In order to solve the current educational shortcomings, Obama said parents, and students themselves, must become more involved in the entire process.
The Democrat also slammed the current administration on its foreign policy, arguing the rest of the world will be ready for a change.
"The world will breathe a sigh of relief when this administration is gone," Obama said.