Franken speaks at Humphrey Institute

Democratic candidate for senate Al Franken speaks at a forum in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute on Wednesday. Franken focused on economic issues spending a large portion of his time criticizing the recent Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

Steve Maturen

Democratic candidate for senate Al Franken speaks at a forum in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute on Wednesday. Franken focused on economic issues spending a large portion of his time criticizing the recent Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

Democratic Senatorial hopeful Al Franken spoke on several public policy issues, most notably the economy, at the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on Wednesday. During the forum, Franken addressed his political concerns, election goals and took questions from the audience of around 50 people, and only a handful of University students. The former Saturday Night Live writer wasted no time in delving into economic issues, lambasting the Bush administration and blaming it for much of the nationâÄôs recent economic woes. âÄúWeâÄôve had eight years of terrible presidency and terrible stewardship over the economy,âÄù Franken said. âÄúThe bailout is an exclamation point on eight years of economic mismanagement.âÄù Franken devoted a large portion of his speech to criticizing the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act , also known as the âÄúbailoutâÄù bill. Franken called the act a âÄúbad bill,âÄù saying that it will cost more than the Iraq War has, that it uses American money to bail out foreign companies and that $700 billion was an arbitrary number. âÄúI hope that no one in Washington has taken a sense of pride or accomplishment from this bailout,âÄù Franken said. He said he would not have voted for the bill and compared it to âÄúspending $700 billion to clean the water out of the living room, but doing nothing to fix the roof.âÄù Emphasizing the importance of the middle class to a healthy economy, Franken refuted the idea that wealth trickles down from the top of the economic ladder. âÄúWall Street is designed to look at the next fiscal quarter, not the next quarter century,âÄù he said. Franken offered his plans to improve the economy, which includes tax cuts for the middle class rather than for millionaires, tax breaks for employers that offer benefits to employees and maintaining the public Social Security system. âÄúIâÄôve seen kids who go to college, work full time, sell their blood plasma to pay for books and still leave school with debts,âÄù Franken said. He also stressed the importance of American energy independence, and said âÄúthe most important barrel of oil is the one you donâÄôt buy.âÄù When asked a question about the role of humor in politics, the former comedian said itâÄôs very useful. âÄúWe [satirists] cut through all the other stuff and get to the truth,âÄù he said. Throughout his speech, Franken expressed his support for the policies and campaign of presidential candidate Barack Obama , as well as his belief that ObamaâÄôs opponent, John McCain, doesnâÄôt have the right answers for America. Sen. Hillary Clinton was on campus Tuesday campaigning for Franken, an event that drew an overflow crowd. WednesdayâÄôs event was part of the 2008 U.S. Senate Candidate Forums, hosted by the UniversityâÄôs Center for the Study of Politics and Governance , as a way to move away from debate-style politics and foster informed discussion on public policy among students and other citizens. Incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman is scheduled to speak at the forum on Thursday.