Candidates On The Issues

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On the Economy
Obama’s first priority here is increasing taxes on oil revenues and giving energy rebates of $1,000 per household per year. He also mandates an additional $50 billion for economic stimulus (most of which will go to government programs), a tax credit of up to $500 per person, and a scattering of more widespread programs such as worker rights initiatives, making sure unions can be created and empowered easily.

McCain wants to reduce the price of gasoline directly by suspending the Federal tax – about 20 cents per gallon – during the summer months, potentially saving consumers a total of $6.8 billion, and replace some corn-based ethanol with sugar-based ethanol to reduce the price of food, again through lowering government taxation, and lowering the corporate tax rate (America’s is the second highest in the world) to stimulate job growth.

McCain’s economic policies rely directly on restoring economic decisions to the private sector. Obama’s policies seek to nationalize economic issues through targeted spending. It’s a fundamental difference, ably delineated by both candidates in the debates. Regarding McCain’s spending-freeze policies, “John McCain is going to use a hatchet. But we need a scalpel,” said Obama. “Sometimes, you need a hatchet,” retorted McCain.

On Education
Both candidates want widespread school reform. McCain voted for No Child Left Behind but is now critical of its implications; Obama was not in office at the time and also wants NCLB reform.
Barack Obama wants to quadruple government funding of early education programs like Head Start and federal after-school care. He also wants to enforce a national accreditation standard for all schools, public and private, encourage teacher formation with government grants with a priority on math and science, a transitional bilingual education program for students learning English. The hallmark of his plan is a community service-driven government education grant (essentially a scholarship) that will give large amounts of college funding for working for the government, at up to $40 an hour.

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John McCain’s plan centers around empowering parents to choose good schools through voucher opportunities. He wants to make government school statistics readily available to parents to aid that process. He also wants to increase Head Start funding, selectively choosing highly successful Head Start centers and pinpointing them for increased funding and larger facilities, to increase early childhood testing similar to European countries, and to pump existing government education funds into technology and online schools. His higher education plan relies on eliminating earmark spending and channeling that money directly into individual university research and scholarship programs.

On Healthcare
Both candidates propose a moratorium on insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, chronic illness, etc.

McCain’s central healthcare plan is to give a refundable tax credit of $5,000 to each family ($2,500 for individuals) to purchase their own healthcare from an appropriate healthcare provider, including that provided by their employer if they so desire. Barack Obama also wants to reform healthcare at the insurance level, but by creating a national system which would extend the usual government benefits (i.e., those which government employees receive) to everyone, as an alternative to private insurance.

On Immigration

With the economy on the verge of recession, immigration issues seem to be low on the candidates’ lists recently, and calls for more statements on the issue have been largely ignored by both campaigns.

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Over the summer, both candidates said that they supported a wall on the border, and that securing the border is the first priority. Both candidates say that undocumented immigrants will be allowed to become citizens after paying back taxes and fees, and both candidates want to improve relations with Latin America – Obama in providing economic stimulus to Mexico, McCain through a give-and-take economic sharing system that would concentrate on Mexico and Columbia. McCain also says that minors who were brought into the country without proper documentation should have their papers expedited, and pledges to increase the number of available visas and legal work opportunities. Obama wants to expedite the citizenship process of immigrants serving in the military and reduce immigration and citizenship procedure fees.

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