Stabenow: Obama has what it takes to bring changes


U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow spent last Thursday in a West Science lecture hall addressing the economy, health care and higher education as she gave a speech touting Barack Obama.

The event drew well, with about 60 people attending, despite only being announced the day before the speech.

Stabenow took over as Michigan’s junior senator in 2000, when she defeated incumbent Spencer Abraham to become Michigan’s first female senator.

Stabenow, who knows Obama through their work in the Senate, began the speech by praising him as a man of strong character.

“Barack Obama sits at the desk right next to mine on the Senate floor,” she said. “So I know him and Michelle and his family well. I think I am more excited at the prospect of him being president than I ever have been (for any candidate) before.”

She also touted Obama’s ability to relate to the economic problems that Michigan faces.

“When he sits down in his office in Chicago and looks out across the water, he can see Michigan – as opposed to Russia – and personally I think he’s got the nicer view,” she said. “He’s right next door to us, so he gets it.”

In addition to explaining Obama’s plan for the economy, Stabenow also offered her personal advice to what she feels is wrong with America’s economy. She cites a lack of foresight by political leaders and a change in the value system of corporate America as two of the greatest failings.

“When I look at (the world) I see us in a global economy . but we as the United States have not yet figured out, or had leadership in the White House that has understood what it takes to compete and win in a global economy,” Stabenow said. “There has been this willingness to accept this race to the bottom: If you are willing to work for less and reduce your benefits, you can be successful, but you have to race downward. What we need to do is start a race up.”

She also chastised corporate America for what she described as a culture of greed.

“We’ve had a system that has said greed is good, that greed is a national virtue,” she said. “It’s not healthy to our businesses and what we have seen recently with the markets proves that.”

Stabenow suggested that the way to begin moving the United States in an upward direction is to invest in higher education, health care and alternative energies.

“We’re the greatest country in the world,” she said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to provide coverage to everyone. We spend twice per capita what any other country does on health care, and yet we have 47 million people without insurance.”

When asked about her opinion on John McCain’s healthcare plan, a plan which gives each American a $5,000 tax credit to help buy health insurance, Stabenow expressed her opposition.

“I can tell you as a senator that if that came before us in the senate there is no way we would pass it,” she said. “Absolutely no way.”

Stabenow was not the only political figure to visit Marquette on the campaign trail this past week. In addition, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin spoke Saturday at the Marquette County Democratic Headquarters in Marquette.

Levin, who has served in the senate since 1979, is facing off against republican Jack Hoogendyk.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak will be holding a question and answer session in Jamrich 102 at 5 p.m.

Stupak represents the entire U.P. and a portion of the lower peninsula.