Obama: Change Is Here

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Obama: Change Is Here

WASHINGTON -- Less than 24 hours after the news broke that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States, the president-elect was already laying out plans to bolster the economy, with possible action coming even before he officially moves into the White House.

"It’s been a long time coming," Obama said during his victory speech at Chicago’s Grant Park near midnight Tuesday. "But tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America."

Obama and an expanded Democratic majority on Capitol Hill will lead the country through tough times when he is sworn into office on Jan. 20, with a recessionary economy among top issues, according to a report in The News York Times.

"The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep," said Obama. "We may not get there in one year or even 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."

His first chance at change will come when Congress returns in less than two weeks for a lame-duck session, with plans to pass another economic stimulus bill, potentially amounting to $175 billion and including money for investments in infrastructure as well as another round of tax rebates, Bloomberg News reported.

In addition, Obama intends to spur job creation with a tax credit and spending on public works, as well as increase taxes on Americans earning more than $250,000 while cutting taxes for those with incomes under $200,000, along with rolling back a quarter-century of deregulation and expanding healthcare, among other efforts, the report stated.

"The changes will be far greater than many expect,'' Andrew Laperriere, managing director at International Strategy & Investment Group, a money management and research firm in Washington, told Bloomberg News. "From taxes to energy to health care, it's a pretty sweeping agenda.''

He also proposed investing $150 billion over a decade in clean energy initiatives, and would also push automakers and consumers to bring 1 million hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a survey published before the election by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs found consumers said the election exerts a significant influence on their holiday gift budgets, and they would be likely to spend more if Obama won, according to a report in MediaPost’s Marketing Daily.

The survey, fielded between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1, asked 1,000 consumers to rate factors influencing their holiday gift-giving budget. The election scored a 6.2 out of 10, placing it above the falling stock market, which scored a 5.5. The top issue was the high cost of living, at 6.9, and job security came in low at 4.3, the report stated.

Eight percent of consumers polled said if Obama won the election they will increase their holiday budget, and if McCain wins, 5 percent said they would do so.

However, some retail experts were unsure of the election’s impact on spending, the report stated.

"Overall, consumers are lacking confidence about their personal economy, the national economy and the global economy," Tim Henderson, senior director and consumer strategist for cultural trend research firm Iconoculture, told MediaPost. "They'll keep their wallets and purses pretty tightly closed. Sure, there may be some initial sense of euphoria, and if their candidate wins, they will feel more confident. But it will be a short honeymoon."

In other election news, AdAge columnist Al Ries suggested the 2008 presidential election will go down in history books for more than its importance for civil rights -- it will be the “biggest day ever in the history of marketing,” he wrote, noting the relatively unknown freshman Senator, who was younger than all his opponents, beat out both the best-known woman in America and a well-known war hero with a long, distinguished record as a U.S. senator.

He did so by having a better marketing strategy --
"Change" -- according to Ries. The concept was simple and consistent, and in repeating the "change" theme, voters identified the word with the candidate -- essentially allowing Obama to “own” the idea in voters’ minds, Ries said.