Economy, Taliban resurgence in Pakistan top Obama’s priorities

November 1st, 2008 - 10:41 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Nov 1 (IANS) Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama says, if elected, turning around the economy and energy independence would be his priorities, besides stabilising Afghanistan and checking resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan.”[The] top priority may not be any of those five. It may be continuing to stabilise the financial system. We don’t know yet what’s going to happen in January,” he told CNN Friday when asked to pick from taxes, health care, education, energy policy and immigration.

“None of this can be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system and financial system. So that’s priority No. 1: making sure the plumbing works,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Separately, asked about his pledge to have a bipartisan administration, and whether it included room for his Republican opponent, Obama said: “I would certainly consider any position for John McCain where I thought he was going to be the best person for our country.”

Attacking McCain for not catching Osama bin Laden, the Democrat said: “Clearly, Senator McCain doesn’t know how to capture bin Laden, because he was supportive of a huge strategic blunder when it came to accomplishing the task.” “I will focus on what [Defence Secretary Robert] Gates and others have indicated as our No. 1 security threat, and that is bin Laden and Al Qaeda,” he said.

Discussing a possible strategy for stabilising Afghanistan and checking the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Obama said: “[Pakistan] are a fledging Democratic government. … We have to support their efforts to democratise.

“That means … not just providing military aid. It means also helping them to provide concrete solutions to the poverty and lack of education that exists.”

Obama has said earlier that he would address Pakistan policy to secure the border and crack down on terrorist camps. “We must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like [Osama] bin Laden if we have them in our sights,” he has said.

Putting energy independence as his No. 2 priority at home, Obama said: “We have to seize this moment, because it’s not just an energy independence issue; it’s also a national security issue, and it’s a jobs issue. We can create 5 million new green energy jobs.”

Health care reform, “making sure we have tax cuts for the middle class as part of a broader tax reform effort,” and reforming the education system were listed as the next three priorities.

Explaining how his proposed tax cuts relate to a bigger economic plan, Obama said: “The tax cut that I talked about may be part of my priority No. 1, because I think that’s going to be part of stabilising the economy as a whole.”

“I think we’re going to need a second stimulus. Part of my commitment is to make sure that the stimulus includes a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans. It may be the first bill I introduce.”

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