PORTAGE | Former television news anchor and Hoosier native Jane Pauley returned to her professional roots Monday during a local appearance on behalf of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Pauley, who said she worked for the state Democratic Party before launching her successful news career, took part in a panel discussion aimed at touting the benefits of Obama's economic plans for Hoosiers over that of his Republican challenger John McCain.
While the subject matter was complex at times, Pauley occasionally took the opportunity to inject partisan humor into the discussion.
"Why would you want a maverick when you've had a cowboy in the White House for two terms already?" she asked, referring to McCain's description of himself.
The panel discussion, which was held at the United Steelworkers Local 6787 headquarters along Ind. 149, attracted just eight people, in addition to local media. Late notice was blamed for the turnout and officials said it was not intended to be a rally, but Pauley said she was willing to return for a larger event.
Pauley's repeated claims that the world is a very different place following last week's dive on Wall Street were underscored by David Hummels, a professor of economics at Purdue University and consultant to the World Bank.
Hummels said unemployment in Indiana, which had been hovering around 3 to 4 percent, reached 6.5 percent in August. At the same time, income is down.
Obama proposes rolling back tax breaks for those earning more than a quarter million dollars and passing along moderate savings for everyone else, which Hummels said he prefers to McCain's proposal of across-the-board tax cuts that would proportionately have more benefit for the wealthy.
Hummels said he also favors Obama's priority of shoring up Social Security as opposed to McCain's proposal of encouraging workers to direct their savings into private accounts where it is at greater risk for loss. He also predicted more people would lose their health insurance if McCain succeeds in taxing the benefit as income and eliminating the tax breaks given to employers who offer insurance coverage.
Retired LTV steelworker Steve Skvara, who made national news last year when he spoke about his financial woes during a presidential rally at Chicago's Soldier Field, said as part of the panel discussion that McCain "scares me to death."
He said McCain opposes federal rules and regulations and yet that has repeatedly led to catastrophes, whether it was the savings and loan crisis during the 1990s or the current mortgage crisis.
Playing off President Bush's claims of wanting to put more control into people's hands as part of an "ownership society," Skvara said the country is headed in the opposite direction.
"It's going to be the homeless society," he said.