Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius prepares to speak at a rally for Barack Obama in New Mexico. (Photo: Shari Vialpando / AP)
Denver - Women face serious economic challenges and will suffer more than men from the current turmoil, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said.
Sebelius, a Democrat, campaigned for presidential candidate Barack Obama in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver on Tuesday. She said women are more likely than men to earn the minimum wage and go without health insurance and pension benefits.
"Women are at the forefront of the economic crisis," she said during a panel discussion in Denver.
Sebelius said she is promoting policies that Obama says will provide economic relief to small business owners, including many women.
Those policies include lowering taxes and eliminating capital gains taxes on small and startup businesses, offering a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent to help small businesses provide health insurance and launching a Women-Owned Business contracting program.
Colorado Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien, a Democrat, said Colorado is better prepared than other states for an economic downturn because of Gov. Bill Ritter's focus on building a new economy around renewable energy, but she said Colorado won't escape unscathed.
Last week, Ritter implemented a state hiring and construction freeze anticipating a downturn in revenues and warned it could turn into a fiscal crisis that could force severe budget cuts.
"Clearly we're going to be facing a bit of a challenge at the state level," O'Brien said.
Sebelius agreed tough times are ahead, but she said Obama is better prepared to cope with a crisis than his opponent, Republican John McCain.
"This country is teetering on the brink of an economic crisis the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression. There are serious economic challenges. We can't continue what we've been doing for the past eight years and expect it to turn out differently," Sebelius said.
She said Obama wants to cut taxes on the middle class while McCain is offering to continue tax cuts for the wealthy that were a cornerstone of President Bush's policies.
Tom Kise, McCain's Colorado spokesman, said Obama's tax plan would raise taxes on people making as little as $42,000 a year, hurting middle class voters.
"That's not pro-women, not pro-business and not pro-economy," Kise said.