The biggest heart string issue any candidate can use to influence votes is the economy. The last few days have been a testament to this. While Obama uses “middle class” as a noun, verb and adjective in every speech, McCain has been trying to reassure Americans about the fundamentals of the economy. In light of the polls today, it would seem Obama is the better string player. But does he have the leadership and policies to back up what he is saying on the stump?
First to leadership. It was reported today that the Democratically controlled Congress is considering another recess in light of the current economic situation. The reason being that they don’t know what to do and don’t want to act in a manner that will cause any more harm. Obama himself has yet to take a position on the bailout of AIG saying he needs more information before he can react to what happened yesterday.
While it is true that John McCain is part of the same Congress that is considering another recess, it is also true that he is a member of the party that stayed in the House to push for a vote on energy reform after the last recess was called by Speaker Pelosi. The Republican representatives stayed in the House for days after the recess was called, lights out, trying to put pressure on the Democrats to allow an up or down vote on energy reform.
Unlike Obama, John McCain has taken a position on the bailout of AIG. According to ABC he is now a flip-flopper because he supports the bailout after he opposed it previously. But they miss the point. John McCain changed his position because he was able to see that if AIG was not given help in some manner-federal,private or the combination of both that has happened-the economy and millions of Americans who are associated with AIG in some way would have been decimated by even a partial failure. Call it a flip flop if you like but leaders know when and how to act, even if acting goes against what they believe.
Now, the policies. Once again these are policy statements directly out of Obama’s “Blueprint for America” and the expanded Issues section of the John McCain website. They are not the soundbites or anecdotes candidates use on the stump.
Obama’s plan starts with, what else, the middle class. While Obama is fond of talking about his tax cut and it’s perceived ability to help 95% of Americans, his plan does not address who is middle class. He does specify a tax credit that would be equal to $500 per individual or $1,000 per working family in what he calls the “Making Work Pay” tax credit. He says it would completely eliminate taxes for 10 million Americans and provide 150 million workers relief.
Obama also will simplify tax filings, allowing taxpayers the option of signing a returning a pre-filled tax form sent by the IRS. No itemization, no W, I or A forms, just sign a return. Accountants beware, estimates are you will lose approximately $2 billion in fees when this happens. Perhaps the accounts will need retraining after they lose their jobs, but not to worry Obama has provided for that in his plan.
First of all, if you take a job at McDonalds, your minimum wage will rise indexed to inflation. Simply put, small businesses are forced to pony up money every year for every worker, NOT based on performance. In addition Obama will raise the Earned Income Tax Credit so that you can work full-time and still raise a family. Not only that but Obama will expand FMLA to companies that employ as little as 25 people and allow time off for just about anything. While I can’t say that allowing time off under FMLA to see your kids soccer games is a bad idea, I can say that his idea to make states and companies to pay for FMLA time is a bad one. But to this end Obama has promised $1.5 billion to the states to help them pay for the new FMLA rules.
If you decide, as an out of work accountant, that you want to enter the manufacturing field, Obama is going to spend untold (literally, he has no number) dollar amounts on new job training programs. Using his education policy as a backdrop, most of this retraining will happen at community colleges where education will be free under an Obama administration. If you decide to stay at home and work, Obama will give you high speed Internet as he spends countless (again no number) dollars on companies who provide Internet connection services.
Of course Obama has a record to back up his economic policies and tax cuts. In 2007 he was a cosponsor on a bill (his site says he introduced it) by Dick Durbin called the Patriot Employer Act. The bill currently sits in committee. Did I mention the Congress that controls these committees is controlled currently by Obama’s own party. He also cosponsored the STOP FRAUD Act to help homeowners, it also sits in committee
Sen McCain’s proposals start off with a balanced budget by 2013. To achieve this McCain will:
- make reasonable growth a reality
- control spending
- use bipartisanship like (hold on ) Bill Clinton did in the 90’s to pass a budget
In assuring growth Mccain believes that small businesses will benefit the economy the most. His proposals of low taxes and low rates on capital gains will allow those businesses to reinvest in their own future. Also small businesses would be able to deduct equipment and technology investments they make to improve their businesses. In addition to allowing businesses to reinvest in themselves, McCain is proposing reducing the Estate Tax to 15% which would allow more businesses to stay in the family. In addition the Bush tax cuts would stay in place and may even increase for all Americans.
Another way John McCain can assure growth is the implementation of his energy policy. Under his plans, which include ALL types of energy, new jobs would be created in America to build and support new energy development. In nuclear power alone it is estimated that over 700,000 jobs would be created under McCain’s plan. Retraining is also a priority in a Mccain Presidency and would be fully supported.
The second part of McCain’s plan to balance the budget is to control spending. John McCain’s efforts to control spending are famous and easily found on his congressional website. But in addition to earmarks, John McCain has proposed a freeze on all non-defense and non-veteran discretionary spending thus allowing time to plan and prioritize all spending programs. And as we draw down in Iraq and costs are reduced in the war, much of that money will go to deficit reduction, not universal health care.
One other point on spending. Much has been made about the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska. Sarah Palin has been criticised for supporting the earmark before she was Governor and then voicing her opposition to it as Governor. John McCain voted “NO” to this earmark (H.r. 3, CQ Vote#220: Adopted 91-4:R 48-4;D42-0, I 1-0,7/29/2005)and was only one of 4 Senators to do so, Obama voted for it. When the money was allocated anyway, Palin did take the $36 million allocated BUT directed her Transportation Department to use it for infrastructure improvements in the state. This is in keeping with improvements sought after the government directed states to look at all of their infrastructure after the bridge collapse a few years ago. Here are two source to verify the bill-
This site shows Obama and McCain’s votes on HR 3
Finally, John McCain’s record of bipartisanship shows that he can easily work with all members of Congress to make this happen. Just as Democrats and Republicans are coming together this week to slow the bleed in the financial sector, Sen McCain has worked with Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman and others to introduce legislation that, many times his own party did not support.
There is more to the McCain plan but I have gone on long enough (Printed text for McCain goes on for 14 pages, Obama has 5). Figuring out what each candidate is saying on the trail is difficult. Sen Obama clearly uses emotion over reason and Sen McCain tries reason more than he should sometimes. But after writing my longest post yet, the bottom line is this. On May 25, 2006 John McCain spoke to the Banking Committee and warned of the failure of Fannie and Freddie as well as others (AIG). Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, now advisers to Obama, were executives in the banking industry then. Chris Dodd (D) was the ranking committee member and killed the resolution John McCain and others proposed. Where was the leadership of Obama and the Democrats then?
Again look at the comments:
(Thank you to all sites listed)