Associated Press - Obama Pledges Tax Breaks to Help People Save at Vegas Roundtable
By RYAN NAKASHIMA
Associated Press Writer
A roundtable discussion with Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on retirement security morphed Monday into a talk about the participants' myriad other economic problems, from mortgage woes to escalating health care costs.
As Obama engaged the six Las Vegas supporters, aged 30 to 70, before a huddle of reporters, he offered solutions such as redistributing tax breaks from the wealthy to lower income earners.
"Part of the problem in terms of retirement security is just making enough money in the first place to be able to save," Obama said.
He then detailed his plan to roll back tax breaks that President Bush put in place for the wealthy and redistribute them, in part by reducing some of the payroll taxes paid by workers.
"So, George, you would get the equivalent of a bigger paycheck," he told George Hicks, one of the roundtable participants.
Obama also said he would push to eliminate all income taxes of seniors earning less than $50,000 a year, and mandate that companies implement workplace pension plans with opt-out provisions.
Hicks, 56, a union broiler cook at the Circus Circus hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, said Obama gave him confidence. Hicks said he would retire except for having to earn enough to pay down a mortgage and afford his wife's medication.
"It gives us a little bit of a hope," Hicks said afterward. "There's something about him that inspires me to see a future. He seems to be so politically different. He's more for the underdog, he's more for the people like us."
Obama has gained ground in Nevada, an early caucus state, against his chief rival, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
According to a Dec. 3-5 telephone survey published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Clinton was favored by 34 percent of likely caucus-goers, compared to 26 percent for Obama. That compared with her larger lead of 39 percent to 21 percent in a similar survey in October.
Later Monday, Obama met with a group of students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and then was to head to Los Angeles for a star-studded fundraising event featuring the Goo Goo Dolls and Ne-Yo.