Sunday, November 16, 2008


Joe Biden is a rare mix. A leader who has worked for decades in Washington, but has never lived there. An expert on foreign policy, whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class. He has stared down dictators, and spoken for America's cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to serve as Barack Obama’s partner in the urgent mission to bring about the change America needs to put our country back on track.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., age 65, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on November 20, 1942, to Joseph Sr. and Jean Biden, the oldest of four. In 1953, the Biden family moved from Pennsylvania to Claymont, Delaware. Biden attended parochial school at St. Helena’s School in Wilmington and the Archmere Academy in Claymont. Public service has always been an important part of Biden family life -- one of Joe's great grandfathers served as a Pennsylvania state senator.

After graduating from the University of Delaware in 1965 and from law school at Syracuse University in 1968, Biden moved back to the Wilmington area and set up his own law firm. He practiced law until 1972.

In 1970, Biden -- at age 27 -- ran for New Castle County Council and won in a Republican district. At age 29, he launched an improbable bid to unseat two-term Republican U.S. Sen. J. Caleb Boggs. With very little help from the state establishment, and with his sister as his campaign manager, Biden defeated Boggs by 3,162 votes.

Just weeks after the election, Biden's wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed and their two young sons critically injured in an auto accident. Biden was sworn in at his son's hospital bedside and began commuting to Washington every day by train, a practice he has maintained throughout his career in the Senate.

In 1977, Biden married Jill Jacobs. Jill Biden, who holds a Ph.D. in education, has been an educator for over two decades in Delaware's schools. Currently she is a professor at Delaware Technical Community College.

Senator Biden has three children: Beau, Hunter, and Ashley. Beau currently serves as Delaware's Attorney General -- and as a captain in the 261st Signal Brigade of the Delaware National Guard, he deployed to Iraq in October. Ashley is a social worker and Hunter is an attorney. Senator Biden also has five grandchildren: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel, Natalie, and Robert Hunter.

In 1988, Biden suffered a cranial aneurysm and nearly died. He recovered by early 1989 after two surgeries and has enjoyed good health since then.

In addition to serving as U.S. Senator, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law since 1991, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.

Key Career Accomplishments
Biden became ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 and served as chairman of the committee from 2001 to 2003 and from 2007 to the present. He served as chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for sixteen years. He is recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on foreign policy, as well as one of its most influential voices on terrorism, drug policy, crime, and issues important to women. He has been a tireless advocate for working families and has reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on tackling some of the greatest challenges facing Americans.

Like Barack Obama, Biden has been an outspoken critic of George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.

Biden's leadership was instrumental in helping to bring stability and peace to the Balkans. In 1999, Biden wrote a resolution endorsing the air war in Kosovo that was passed by the Senate.

Biden has been a leader of the congressional effort to end genocide in Darfur.
In the late 1990s, Biden led the effort in the Senate to bring Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO and to pass the Chemical Weapons Treaty.

Biden has been instrumental in crafting almost every major piece of crime legislation over the past two decades. His Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 put more than 100,000 police officers on America's streets and has been credited with bringing crime rates down to the lowest point in a generation.

Biden authored and passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act, the strongest legislation to date that criminalizes domestic violence and holds batterers accountable.

Biden was a strong supporter of the Family and Medical Leave Act, cracked down on deadbeat dads, and has been a consistent champion for equal pay.
Biden was one of the first to introduce legislation to address global warming and he co-sponsored the most aggressive pieces of climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Biden is a champion on the issue of making college more affordable by using the tax code to reduce costs.

Biden was successful in passing a provision that prevents budget cuts to military facilities while the nation is at war, an effor that shored up one of his key priorities -- top-notch medical treatment for all veterans in a fully-funded VA health care system.

Senator Biden has a proven record of bringing people together to get things done. From global warming to combating violence against women to confronting the challenges of the dangerous world in which we live, Joe Biden has fought every day over the course of his life in public service to improve the lives of middle class families.


Dr. Jill Tracy Biden (née Jacobs) was raised in Willow Grove, PA. Jill is the oldest of five sisters, and the daughter of Bonny, a stay-at-home mom, and Donald, a banker. Both her parents are deceased.

Jill and Joe met when she was a student at the University of Delaware, an introduction arranged by Joe's brother. When Joe called to ask her out, Jill made sure to mention she was not impressed with his title and that he should feel lucky that she had voted for him. At the time, Joe had two sons, Beau and Hunter.

The couple dated for two years, and, on June 17, 1977, they were married at the United Nations chapel in New York City. Jill has said that when she married Joe, she knew she was marrying the whole family, including his two sons. Beau and Hunter joined the couple on their honeymoon.

In 1981, Joe and Jill had a daughter, Ashley. All of the children are now grown and five grandchildren -- Naomi, Finnegan, Maisy, Natalie, and Hunter Biden -- have been added to the family. Beau is the Attorney General of the State of Delaware and a captain in the Delaware National Guard. Hunter is a lawyer; and Ashley is employed as a social worker.

Jill is in her 15th year at Delaware Technical Community College, where she teaches English composition. She also spent 13 years in the public schools, where she was a Reading specialist and English teacher as well as a part-time teacher with the Rockford Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Program.

While working full-time and raising a family, Jill earned two masters degrees: a Master's degree in English from Villanova University (1987) and a Master's degree in reading from West Chester University (1981). And in January 2007, Jill earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation focused on how to retain students in community colleges.

Jill has always been active and engaged in the issues that matter to her most, like health care. Jill had four friends with breast cancer, one of whom died. She thought that as an educator there was something she could do. In 1993, Jill started the Biden Breast Health Initiative, which in the past 15 years has educated more than 7,000 ninth-through-twelfth grade girls in Delaware about proper breast health.

Jill is also involved with Delaware Boots on the Ground, an organization that helps military families whose needs are not being met by existing programs or who have fallen through the cracks. This summer, she also started a program called Book Buddies to get kids reading at an early age. The program helps low-income children and raises money to buy books.

Jill makes sure to keep active, running 5 miles 5 days a week. She also ran in the Marine Corps Marathon.


Barack Obama was raised by a single mother and his grandparents. They didn't have much money, but they taught him values from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. He took out loans to put himself through school. After college, he worked for Christian churches in Chicago, helping communities devastated when steel plants closed. Obama turned down lucrative job offers after law school to return to Chicago, leading a successful voter registration drive. He joined a small law firm, taught constitutional law and, guided by his Christian faith, stayed active in his community. Obama and his wife Michelle are proud parents of two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Early Years
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.

Barack's mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton's army. Her mother went to work on a bomber assembly line, and after the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved west to Hawaii.

It was there, at the University of Hawaii, where Barack's parents met. His mother was a student there, and his father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya and pursue his dreams in America.

Barack's father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University in 1983.

The College Years
Remembering the values of empathy and service that his mother taught him, Barack put law school and corporate life on hold after college and moved to Chicago in 1985, where he became a community organizer with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

The group had some success, but Barack had come to realize that in order to truly improve the lives of people in that community and other communities, it would take not just a change at the local level, but a change in our laws and in our politics.

He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard in 1991, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Soon after, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law. Finally, his advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate, where he served for eight years. In 2004, he became the third African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Political Career
It has been the rich and varied experiences of Barack Obama's life -- growing up in different places with people who had differing ideas -- that have animated his political journey. Amid the partisanship and bickering of today's public debate, he still believes in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose -- a politics that puts solving the challenges of everyday Americans ahead of partisan calculation and political gain.

In the Illinois State Senate, this meant working with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. He also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

In the U.S. Senate, he focused on tackling the challenges of a globalized, 21st century world with fresh thinking and a politics that no longer settles for the lowest common denominator. His first law was passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax dollars is spent. He has been the lead voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack Abramoff-style corruption in Congress.

As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Obama fought to help veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the thousands of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure deadly weapons around the world. And knowing the threat we face to our economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he worked to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses, and politicians of both parties together to promote the greater use of alternative fuels and higher fuel standards in our cars.

Whether it's the poverty exposed by Katrina, the genocide in Darfur, or the role of faith in our politics, Barack Obama continues to speak out on the issues that will define America in the 21st century. But above all his accomplishments and experiences, he is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, live on Chicago's South Side.


When people ask Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate. First and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom.
But before she was a mother -- or a wife, lawyer, or public servant -- she was Fraser and Marian Robinson's daughter.

The Robinsons lived on the South Side of Chicago, on the top floor of a brick bungalow. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago water department. He was a hero to Michelle and her older brother Craig -- even though he had multiple sclerosis, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons. Fraser and Marian valued hard work, independence, and honesty. Today, their children point to their parents as their greatest teachers.

Michelle attended Chicago public schools, then Princeton. She studied sociology and African American studies, graduated in the class of 1985, and earned admission to Harvard Law School. When she returned to Chicago in 1988, she joined the law firm Sidley & Austin.

After a few years, Michelle realized that corporate law was not her calling. So she left to give back to the city she loves and to help others serve their communities. She worked for City Hall, becoming the assistant commissioner of planning and development. Then she became the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young people for public service. Today, more than 350 young leaders have graduated from Public Allies Chicago.

Michelle got one great thing out of working for a corporate law firm -- that's where she met Barack. They were married in 1992. Today, they have two daughters -- Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. Like their mom, both girls were born on the South Side of Chicago.

Since 1996, Michelle has worked for the University of Chicago. As associate dean of student services, she developed the university's first community service program. Later, she became the vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Under Michelle's leadership, volunteering skyrocketed, both in the hospital and the community. Hospital employees serving in the community increased nearly fivefold, while community members volunteering in the hospital nearly quadrupled.

Since Barack began his campaign in early 2007, Michelle has met thousands of Americans, hearing their concerns and hopes for the future. As someone who knows the challenge of balancing work and family, Michelle has held roundtables with working women to hear about their struggle to do it all, particularly in a failing economy. In these discussions, Michelle heard the unique stories of military spouses, who work hard to keep their families together while their loved ones are away.

"We held a roundtable for military spouses at Fort Bragg," Michelle says. "It felt like the first time that many of these women had even been asked how they were doing. The tears and the stories went on and on. So we had another roundtable, and then another one."

Michelle looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart -- supporting military families, helping working women balance work and family, and encouraging national service.

"My first priority will always be to make sure that our girls are healthy and grounded," she says. "Then I want to help other families get the support they need, not just to survive, but to thrive.

"Policies that support families aren't political issues. They're personal. They're the causes I carry with me every single day


The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that our kids and our country can’t afford four more years of neglect and indifference. At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in a global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. Obama and Biden are committed to meeting this challenge with the leadership and judgment that has been sorely lacking for the last eight years. Their vision for a 21st century education begins with demanding more reform and accountability, coupled with the resources needed to carry out that reform; asking parents to take responsibility for their children’s success; and recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers to fill new successful schools that prepare our children for success in college and the workforce. The Obama-Biden plan will restore the promise of America’s public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success.

Early Childhood Education
Zero to Five Plan: The Obama-Biden comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, the Obama-Biden plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama and Biden will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state Zero to Five efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama and Biden will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding, and improve quality for both.
Provide affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama and Biden will also increase access to affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.

Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner.
Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the Federal Charter School Program to support the creation of more successful charter schools.
The Obama-Biden administration will provide this expanded charter school funding only to states that improve accountability for charter schools, allow for interventions in struggling charter schools and have a clear process for closing down chronically underperforming charter schools. Obama and Biden will also prioritize supporting states that help the most successful charter schools to expand to serve more students.

Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama and Biden will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama and Biden will address the dropout crisis by passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school -- strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
Support College Outreach Programs: Obama and Biden support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Support College Credit Initiatives: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a national "Make College A Reality" initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.

Support English Language Learners: Obama and Biden support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Recruit Teachers: Obama and Biden will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.

Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama and Biden will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.

Retrain Teachers: To support our teachers, the Obama-Biden plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. They will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.

Reward Teachers: Obama and Biden will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward with a salary increase accomplished educators who serve as a mentors to new teachers. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Higher Education
Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Revitalizing the economy

Our country faces its most serious economic crisis since the great depression. Working families, who saw their incomes decline by $2,000 in the economic "expansion" from 2000 to 2007, now face even deeper income losses. Retirement savings accounts have lost $2 trillion. Markets have fallen 40% in less than a year. Millions of homeowners who played by the rules can't meet their mortgage payments and face foreclosure as the value of their homes have plummeted. With credit markets nearly frozen, businesses large and small cannot access the credit they need to meet payroll and create jobs.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a plan to revitalize the economy.

Immediate Action to Create Good Jobs in America
Immediate Relief for Struggling Families
Direct, Immediate Assistance for Homeowners, Not a Bailout for Irresponsible Mortgage Lenders
A Rapid, Aggressive Response to Our Financial Crisis, Using All the Tools We Have

The economy has lost 760,000 jobs this year -- and some forecasters expect the unemployment rate to exceed 8 percent by the end of next year. Addressing the financial crisis will help prevent the most severe loss of jobs from the crisis. But taking direct steps to create jobs will also strengthen the economy and help with the financial crisis. Barack Obama and Joe Biden's overall economic agenda is pro-jobs, including their plans to eliminate America's dependence on foreign oil and bring down healthcare costs. But Obama and Biden believe we must take additional aggressive steps to jump-start job creation right now:

A New American Jobs Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will provide a new temporary tax credit to companies that add jobs here in the United States. During 2009 and 2010, existing businesses will receive a $3,000 refundable tax credit for each additional full-time employee hired. For example, if a company that currently has 10 U.S. employees increases its domestic full time employment to 20 employees, this company would get a $30,000 tax credit -- enough to offset the entire added payroll tax costs to the company for the first $50,000 of income for the new employees. The tax credit will benefit all companies creating net new jobs, even those struggling to make a profit.
Raise the small business investment expensing limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009: Obama and Biden will give small businesses an additional incentive to make investments and start creating jobs again by providing temporary business tax incentives through 2009. The February 2008 stimulus bill increased maximum Section 179 expenses to $250,000 but this expires in December 2008. This provision will encourage all firms to pursue investment in the coming months, but will particularly benefit small firms which generally have smaller amounts of annual property purchases and so choose to expense the cost of their acquired property.
Zero capital gains rate for investment in small businesses: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we need to encourage investment in small businesses to help create jobs and turn our economy around. That's why they will eliminate all capital gains taxes on investments made in small and start-up businesses. They also want to cut taxes for the small businesses that create jobs but are struggling with restricted access to credit on top of skyrocketing health care and energy costs.
Save one million jobs through immediate investments to rebuild America's roads and bridges and repair our schools: The Obama-Biden emergency plan would make $25 billion immediately available in a Jobs and Growth Fund to help ensure that in-progress and fast-tracked infrastructure projects are not sidelined, and to ensure that schools can meet their energy costs and undertake key repairs starting this fall. This increased investment is necessary to stem growing budget pressures on infrastructure projects. In addition, in an environment where we may face elevated unemployment levels well into 2009, making an aggressive investment in urgent, high-priority infrastructure will serve as a triple win: generating capital deployment and job creation to boost our economy in the near-term, enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the longer term, and improving the environment by adopting energy efficient school and infrastructure repairs. In total, Obama and Biden's $25 billion investment will result in 1 million jobs created or saved, while helping to turn our economy around.
Partner with America's automakers to help save jobs and ensure that the next generation of clean vehicles is built in the United States: Senator Obama pushed for $50 billion in loan guarantees to help the auto industry retool, develop new battery technologies and produce the next generation of fuel efficient cars here in America. Congress passed only half of this amount -- it is critical that the administration speeds up the implementation of the first half and that Congress move quickly to enact the second half. In addition, Obama and Biden believe that with the tremendous uncertainty facing the auto industry, and the small and medium business suppliers who depend on them, it is critical that we keep all options on the table for helping them weather the financial crisis.

Even when the overall economy was growing, most American families were not sharing in this growth. The typical non-elderly household saw its income decline by more than $2,000 from 2000 to 2007 as expenses skyrocketed. Weekly wages, adjusted for inflation, are now lower than they were a decade ago. Barack Obama and Joe Biden's overall economic plan will relieve the squeeze on families and foster bottom-up growth. But they are proposing that we implement several measures immediately:

A tax cut for 95 percent of workers and their families -- plus seniors: Barack Obama and Joe Biden propose a permanent tax cut of $500 for workers and $1,000 for families. A first round of these tax credits could be mailed out quickly by the IRS based on tax returns already filed for tax year 2007. In addition, Obama and Biden would extend these expedited tax credits to senior citizens who are retired as a down payment on his plan to eliminate taxes for all seniors making up to $50,000.
Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits: Millions of Americans are looking for work but unable to find it in the weak economy. Today, more than one in five unemployed workers has been out of work for more than half a year -- the highest level since early 2005. Obama supported extending unemployment insurance this summer, but already 800,000 jobless workers have exhausted those benefits and are being left without any unemployment compensation. Obama and Biden believe Congress should immediately extend unemployment insurance for an additional 13 weeks to help families that are being hit hardest by this downturn. In addition, they believe we should temporarily suspend taxes on unemployment insurance benefits as a way of giving more relief to families.
Penalty-free hardship withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s in 2008 and 2009: Many families are going to be facing unique economic hardship over the coming year. To help these families pay their bills and their mortgages and make it through these tough times, Obama and Biden are calling for legislation that would allow withdrawals of 15% up to $10,000 from retirement accounts without penalty (although subject to the normal taxes). This would apply to withdrawals in 2008 (including retroactively) and 2009.
Instruct the Treasury to allow seniors to delay required withdrawals from 401(k)s and IRAs: Currently seniors are required to start withdrawing from their 401(k)s and IRAs at age 70 1/2 and every year thereafter over their lifetime. But the explicit requirement that withdrawals continue on an annual basis -- and the related requirement that the amount withdrawn be based on currently much higher year-end 2007 asset values -- is based on Treasury regulations, not the statute, which has a less specific mandate. That means the Secretary of the Treasury has authority to change its regulations to protect seniors from being forced, at this critical time, to sell their investments and "lock in" their losses just after market values have plummeted in an almost unprecedented fashion. Obama and Biden are calling on Treasury to temporarily suspend the required withdrawals for retirees over age 70 1/2. Because retirees often make these required withdrawals late in the year, there is still time to help millions of affected seniors -- but only if done promptly. In addition, because lower-income seniors may have no choice but to take withdrawals this year and in 2008, Obama and Biden will exempt any withdrawals made up to the required minimum amount from taxation. This will give seniors the flexibility they deserve -- to forgo withdrawals if they choose or to take those withdrawals tax free if they need those resources to pay their bills.
Funds to counteract high heating costs this winter: Obama and Biden are calling for supplementing the recently passed LIHEAP funding to ensure that cold-weather states can cushion the impact of high energy prices for their residents this winter. The Energy Information Administration said that consumers will pay a projected $1,137 to heat their homes from Oct. 1 to March 31 -- 15 percent more than last year's heating outlay during this time. Homeowners that use heating oil rather than natural gas could see increases of 23 percent compared to last year. As part of his $25 billion state fiscal relief package, Obama's plan will supplement existing LIHEAP funding to help state programs expand to cover more residents while continuing to provide a meaningful benefit.

Over the past two years, Americans have lost 20 percent of the value of their homes. In some parts of the country home values have fallen by twice that amount. In combination with a rapidly deteriorating economy, that means more and more families are having a hard time meeting their monthly mortgage payments. At the same time, many states are considering property tax hikes that will burden homeowners still further. And millions of families who have seen the value of their homes fall below the cost of their mortgages need assistance in restructuring their mortgages to stay in their homes.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's plan provides direct relief to help America's homeowners pay their mortgages, stay in their homes, and avoid painful tax increases while protecting taxpayers and not rewarding the bad behavior and bad actors who got us into this mess:

Instruct the Secretaries of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use their existing authority to more aggressively modify the terms of mortgages: Barack Obama was an early champion of the HOPE for Homeowners Act that passed over the summer. In addition, Obama insisted that the financial rescue plan Congress recently passed include authority for the Secretary to work with servicers to modify the terms of mortgages for homeowners who played by the rules. Obama and Biden believe that both of these plans should be implemented aggressively and comprehensively. In addition, Obama and Biden are calling on Treasury and HUD to develop a plan to work with state housing agencies to coordinate broad mortgage restructurings. The Dodd-Frank legislation gives states broader authority to help struggling homeowners, and coordination is essential to ensure that state and national efforts are working in concert to help as many homeowners as possible at the minimum cost to taxpayers.
Reform the bankruptcy code to assist homeowners and remove legal impediments to encouraging broader mortgage restructuring: Obama and Biden are also calling for legislation to close the loophole in our bankruptcy code that allows bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of mortgages on investment properties and vacation homes but not on primary residences. He also believes we should clarify the legal liability of mortgage servicers so that servicers who work with struggling homeowners to modify their mortgages will receive legal protections. And we should remove any tax- or legal-related impediments to encouraging shared-equity mortgages within the HOPE for Homeownership process.
Enact a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners who are acting in good faith: Financial institutions that participate in the financial rescue plan should be required to adhere to a homeowner's code of conduct, including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for any homeowners living in their homes who are making good faith efforts to pay their mortgages. This will help create stability until the more far-reaching solutions are implemented and give both sides a chance to work out an agreement.
Provide $25 Billion in state fiscal relief to help avoid painful property tax increases: Budget crunches across the nation are putting our local governments in the untenable position of having to choose between raising property taxes and cutting vital services. Obama has proposed $25 billion in state fiscal relief that, coupled with the new emergency facility to address the state credit crunch, will help states and localities continue to provide essential services like health care, police, fire and education without raising taxes or fees.
Create a universal mortgage tax credit for homeowners: Barack Obama believes we should immediately enact a 10 percent refundable tax credit on the mortgage interest paid by hardworking American families who do not itemize their taxes. This credit will help offset the cost of mortgage payments for at least 10 million middle-class homeowners.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that our deep systemic financial market crisis requires a systemic response. They fought to ensure that the recently-passed financial rescue package gave the Treasury the tools to stabilize the financial system, while protecting taxpayers and ensuring CEOs would not get rich in the process. However, this stabilization will only occur if the Treasury, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and other government entities use their authority and move quickly and aggressively to address the financial crisis.

It is now clear that our financial markets will not restart until financial institutions are lending again. Because of the extensive losses many of these institutions have suffered, they need more capital so that they will have the money to lend to families and businesses. Obama and Biden recognized this early, and were heartened by the Treasury's stated intention to use its recently granted authority to inject capital into our financial institutions. However, Secretary Paulson must turn this intention into action quickly and aggressively, in a manner that strengthens confidence in our banks, protects taxpayers, does not reward CEOs, and is strictly temporary.

In addition, our financial authorities must stand ready to take additional, complementary actions -- consistent with the systemic nature of this crisis -- to ensure this Treasury initiative is successful:

Be prepared, if necessary, for broader assurances for credit to banks: First, we must be prepared to provide additional, temporary assurances to achieve the effective functioning of financial markets. Depending on developing circumstances, these steps could include additional measures by the Federal Reserve, extending insurance to all deposits, or guaranteeing a broader range of liabilities of the banking system including overnight loans. Any such steps should be coordinated internationally where appropriate and feasible. They should be accompanied by additional oversight to ensure appropriate use of guaranteed funds and by the expectation that financial institutions taking advantage of these guarantees will raise more capital.
Extend asset purchases to unfreeze other critical sectors: Second, the Treasury should not limit itself to purchasing mortgage-backed securities under the financial rescue plan recently passed by Congress. The Treasury should use the authority it has under the new law to help unfreeze markets for individual mortgages, student loans, car loans, loans for multi-family dwellings, and credit card loans.
Make credit available to small businesses and state or local governments: Third, we should take immediate steps to support non-financial institutions including small businesses and states and municipalities. The Federal Reserve and Treasury have acted to preserve the availability of liquidity for financial institutions and, more recently, have created a program to purchase commercial paper directly from the large corporate issuers. Small businesses and state and local governments, however, are having serious difficulty obtaining necessary financing from debt markets.
Address the credit crisis facing our states and localities: Barack Obama and Joe Biden propose that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury work together to design a facility to provide a funding backstop to the state and municipal government debt market similar to the recently announced program for the commercial paper market. The Federal Reserve should determine whether it has sufficient legal authority to establish such a facility on its own -- if not, it should work with Treasury and the Congress to achieve this goal. This new facility should be designed to protect taxpayer resources while ensuring that state and local governments can continue to provide vital services to their residents.
Address the credit crisis facing our small businesses: To address the massive credit crunch that is threatening America's small businesses, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are proposing two immediate steps: (1) a nationwide emergency lending facility for small businesses that could be run through the SBA's Disaster Loan Program, which helped thousands of businesses in the wake of 9/11; and (2) temporarily eliminating fees on the SBA's 7(a) and 504 loan guarantee programs for small businesses, to help increase private lending for small businesses.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that trade with foreign nations should strengthen the American economy and create more American jobs. They will stand firm against agreements that undermine our economic security.

Fight for Fair Trade: Obama and Biden will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. They will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks. Obama and Biden will also pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports.
Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama and Biden believe that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people. They will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.
Improve transition assistance: To help all workers adapt to a rapidly changing economy, Obama and Biden will update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.
End tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that companies should not get billions of dollars in tax deductions for moving their operations overseas. They will fight to ensure that public contracts are awarded to companies that are committed to American workers.
Reward companies that support American workers: Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007 with Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Sherrod Brown (D-Oh) to reward companies that create good jobs with good benefits for American workers. The legislation would provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside the U.S.; maintain their corporate headquarters in America if it has ever been in America; pay decent wages; prepare workers for retirement; provide health insurance; and support employees who serve in the military.
Manufacturing and Green Jobs
Invest in our next generation innovators and job creators: Obama and Biden will create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies. The Fund will have a peer-review selection and award process based on the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, a state-level initiative that has awarded over $125 million to Michigan businesses with the most innovative proposals to create new products and new jobs in the state.
Double funding for the manufacturing extension partnership: The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers across the country to improve efficiency, implement new technology and strengthen company growth. This highly-successful program has engaged in more than 350,000 projects across the country and in 2006 alone, helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs. But despite this success, funding for MEP has been slashed by the Bush administration. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the MEP so its training centers can continue to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
Invest in a clean energy economy and create 5 million new green jobs: Obama and Biden will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America's highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.
Create new job training programs for clean technologies: The Obama-Biden plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Obama and Biden will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
Boost the renewable energy sector and create new jobs: The Obama-Biden plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama and Biden will create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. They will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase renewable energy production and create new local jobs.
National Infrastructure Investment
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that it is critically important for the United States to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure -- its highways, bridges, roads, ports, air, and train systems -- to strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and ensure our economy continues to grow.

Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will address the infrastructure challenge by creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation's most challenging transportation infrastructure needs. The Bank will receive an infusion of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These projects will directly and indirectly create up to two million new jobs and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.
Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will increase federal support for research, technology and innovation for companies and universities so that American families can lead the world in creating new advanced jobs and products.

Invest in the sciences: Obama and Biden support doubling federal funding for basic research and changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of U.S. technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America.
Make the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent: Barack Obama and Joe Biden want investments in a skilled research and development workforce and technology infrastructure to be supported here in America so that American workers and communities will benefit. Obama and Biden want to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multi-year timeframes.
Deploy next-generation broadband: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.
Small Business
Provide tax relief for small businesses and start-up companies: Obama and Biden will eliminate all capital gains taxes on start-up and small businesses to encourage innovation and job creation. Obama and Biden will also support small business owners by providing a $500 "Making Work Pay" tax credit to almost every worker in America. Self-employed small business owners pay both the employee and the employer side of the payroll tax, and this measure will reduce the burdens of this double taxation.
Create a national network of public-private business incubators: Obama and Biden will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by creating a national network of public-private business incubators. Business incubators facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. Obama and Biden will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.
Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama and Biden will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year.

Ensure freedom to unionize: Obama and Biden believe that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is a strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bipartisan effort that makes sure workers can exercise their right to organize. They will continue to fight for EFCA's passage and Obama will sign it into law.
Fight attacks on workers' right to organize: Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB's "Kentucky River" decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction workers, and professional workers as "supervisors" who are not protected by federal labor laws.
Protect striking workers: Obama and Biden support the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. They will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.
Raise the minimum wage: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.
Mortgages, Homeownership, and Bankruptcy
Obama and Biden will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders. They will also make sure homebuyers have honest and complete information about their mortgage options, they'll give a tax credit to all middle-class homeowners, and they'll reform our bankruptcy laws to protect working people.

Create a universal mortgage credit: Obama and Biden will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide tax relief to homeowners who do not itemize. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.
Ensure more accountability in the subprime mortgage industry: Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama's STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity.
Mandate accurate loan disclosure: Obama and Biden will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan.
Close bankruptcy loophole for mortgage companies: Obama and Biden will work to eliminate the provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying an individual's mortgage payments. They believe that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by outdated federal law.
Credit Cards and Lending
Obama and Biden will establish a five-star rating system so that every consumer knows the risk involved in every credit card. They also will establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to stop credit card companies from exploiting consumers with unfair practices.

Create a credit card rating system to improve disclosure: Obama and Biden will create a credit card rating system, modeled on five-star systems used for other consumer products, to provide consumers an easily identifiable ranking of credit cards, based on the card's features. Credit card companies will be required to display the rating on all application and contract materials, enabling consumers to quickly understand all of the major provisions of a credit card without having to rely exclusively on fine print in lengthy documents.
Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers: Obama and Biden will create a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers. The Obama-Biden plan will:
Ban Unilateral Changes
Apply Interest Rate Increases Only to Future Debt
Prohibit Interest on Fees
Prohibit "Universal Defaults"
Require Prompt and Fair Crediting of Cardholder Payments
Cap outlandish interest rates on payday loans and improve disclosure: Obama and Biden will extend a 36 percent interest cap to all Americans. They will require lenders to provide clear and simplified information about loan fees, payments and penalties, which is why they'll require lenders to provide this information during the application process.
Encourage responsible lending institutions to make small consumer loans: Obama and Biden will encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable short-term and small-dollar loans and to drive unscrupulous lenders out of business.
Reform bankruptcy laws to protect families facing a medical crisis: Obama and Biden will create an exemption in bankruptcy law for individuals who can prove they filed for bankruptcy because of medical expenses. This exemption will create a process that forgives the debt and lets the individuals get back on their feet.
Work-Family Balance
Obama and Biden will double funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses, and encourage flexible work schedules.

Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama and Biden will expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. They will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence.
Encourage states to adopt paid leave: As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.
Expand high-quality afterschool opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve a million more children. Obama and Biden will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.
Expand the child and dependent care tax credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Obama and Biden will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
Protect against caregiver discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Obama and Biden will enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.
Expand flexible work arrangements: Obama and Biden will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.

i'm sure wateve OBAMA AND BIDEN do it will be in the best interest for the country

Ending the war in Iraq

The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will responsibly end the war in Iraq so that we can renew our military strength, dedicate more resources to the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and invest in our economy at home. The Obama-Biden plan will help us succeed in Iraq by transitioning to Iraqi control of their country.

Judgment You Can Trust
In 2002, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against going to war, and to warn of "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences." He and Joe Biden are fully committed to ending the war in Iraq.

A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month -- which would remove all of them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 -- more than 7 years after the war began.

Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

Encouraging Political Accommodation
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the U.S. must apply pressure on the Iraqi government to work toward real political accommodation. There is no military solution to Iraq’s political differences. Now is the time to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future and to invest their oil revenues in their own reconstruction.

Obama and Biden's plan will help create lasting stability in Iraq. A phased withdrawal will encourage Iraqis to take the lead in securing their own country and making political compromises, while the responsible pace of redeployment called for by the Obama-Biden plan offers more than enough time for Iraqi leaders to get their own house in order. As our forces redeploy, Obama and Biden will make sure we engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society -- in and out of government -- to forge compromises on oil revenue sharing, the equitable provision of services, federalism, the status of disputed territories, new elections, aid to displaced Iraqis, and the reform of Iraqi security forces.

Surging Diplomacy
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive compact on the stability of Iraq and the region. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors -- including Iran and Syria, as suggested by the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group Report. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction and development.

Preventing Humanitarian Crisis
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that America has both a moral obligation and a responsibility for security that demands we confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis -- more than five million Iraqis are refugees or are displaced inside their own country. Obama and Biden will form an international working group to address this crisis. They will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find sanctuary. Obama and Biden will also work with Iraqi authorities and the international community to hold accountable the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. They will reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq.

The Status-of-Forces Agreement
Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.

President-Elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden Announce Key White House Staff

HE ANNOUNCES IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden today announced
the following key White House staff, Valerie Jarrett, Phil Schiliro and Ron Klain. Valerie Jarrett will serve as Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison, Phil Schiliro as Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and Ron Klain to be the Chief of Staff to the Vice President.

"These individuals will be essential members of our team as we work to bring Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen our struggling economy and make Washington work for all Americans. I have the utmost confidence that their broad and diverse experience will serve my administration and the American people well in the challenging months," said President-elect Barack Obama.

"Ron Klain has been a trusted advisor of mine for over 20 years. He brings extraordinary judgment, a deep understanding of the important policy issues facing our nation, a wide range of experience in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as a unique understanding of how the Vice President's office works. He will be an important addition in helping the Obama-Biden Administration bring the change we need to America," said Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison

Valerie B. Jarrett became the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007. From November 1995 through January 31, 2007, she was the Executive Vice President of The Habitat Company. The Habitat Company is one of the nation’s premier developers and managers of residential apartments and condominiums. Habitat has developed more than 17,000 housing units and currently manages more than 20,000 units. Before joining The Habitat Company in 1995, Ms. Jarrett served for eight years in the City of Chicago government; first as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and finally, as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Prior to her City government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms.

Ms. Jarrett currently serves as a co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and as a Director of USG Corporation, Inc., Navigant Consulting, Inc. and RREEF America II. She is Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees. She is also Vice Chairman of The University of Chicago Board of Trustees, the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, and Metropolis 2020. She is a Director of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, The Metropolitan Planning Council and the Central Area Committee. She is a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.

From 1995-2003, Ms. Jarrett also served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. Ms. Jarrett served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc, from April 2004 through April 2007, and Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange Holdings, Inc., from February 2005 through April 2007. She also served as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from January 2006 through April 2007. Ms. Jarrett served as Finance Chair for the 2004 U.S. Senatorial Campaign for Barack Obama, the first Treasurer of the Senator’s PAC, the Hopefund, and served as a Senior Advisor to the Obama for America Presidential Campaign. Ms. Jarrett received a J.D. degree from The University of Michigan Law School in 1981 and an A.B. degree from Stanford University in 1978.

Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs

Philip M. Schiliro is currently the Director of Congressional Relations for the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama. Schiliro was a senior advisor to Senator Obama's presidential campaign. He has worked in the United States Congress for more than 25 years. Schiliro served as the Chief of Staff to Representative Henry Waxman and the House Oversight Committee in the House, and the Policy Director for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and Staff Director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees in the Senate.

Ron Klain, Chief of Staff to the Vice President

Ronald A. Klain has served in all three branches of the federal government. Mr. Klain previously worked for Senator Biden as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee; during his tenure, the Committe acted on significant anti-crime legislation and two Supreme Court nominations. Mr. Klain later served as Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees under Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). In the executive branch, Mr. Klain served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore for four years; he also served as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, and Associate Counsel to President Clinton in charge of judicial selection. Mr. Klain began his legal career as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, after graduating from the Harvard Law School magna cum laude.

Ron Klain has played a role on the debate preparation teams of every Democratic Presidential nominee since Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. In 2008, he took an unpaid leave of absence from his post as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Revolution LLC, to serve on the debate preparation teams for both Senators Obama and Biden.

Mr. Klain is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. He now lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife Monica Medina, Senior Environmental Counsel at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and their three children, Hannah, Michael and Daniel.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our momentThis is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.