WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama accused Republican rival John McCain on Saturday of embracing Bush administration policies that he said shortchange Americans by favoring an extended war in Iraq at the expense of fixing the nation's underfunded schools and crumbling roads and bridges.
Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, used a national radio address to trumpet his campaign proposals to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to conclude the war in Iraq responsibly "by asking the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future and to invest in their own country."
The Illinois Democrat pointed to a recent Government Accountability Office report that found the Iraqi government could end the year with as much as a $79 billion budget surplus while at the same time spending only a fraction on reconstruction costs that are largely borne by the U.S. McCain will only continue Bush war policies with an "open-ended commitment" that has been unsuccessful, Obama said.
"Let me be clear: We are well over five years into a war in a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks," he said. "Our country has spent nearly a trillion dollars in Iraq, even as our schools are underfunded, our roads and bridges are crumbling and the cost of everything from groceries to a gallon of gas is soaring."
"Now think for a moment about what we could have done with the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars that we've spent in Iraq," Obama said. "We could have made historic investments in alternative energy to create millions of American jobs. We could have headed off $4 dollar a gallon gas and begun to end the tyranny of oil in our time."
Obama blamed the nation's rising budget deficit - which could reach nearly half a trillion dollars next year - on McCain-backed Bush policies that provide "tax cut after tax cut for the wealthiest Americans who don't need them and didn't even ask for them."
McCain supports extending tax cuts Bush pushed through Congress in 2001, including keeping 15 percent rates on capital gains and dividend income; McCain also would lower the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 25 percent and eliminate the alternate minimum tax. On Iraq, McCain has long maintained that conditions on the ground are a key consideration in any withdrawal of American troops.
"The American people are worse off than they were eight years ago," Obama said. "Our government has lost touch."
"Senator McCain talks about putting our country first, but he is running for a third term of the very same policies that have set our country back," he said.