JUST THE ISSUES: Obama Vs. McCain

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Here we are citizens, at the moment of truth.  This has been a very long road to the White House, and a very costly war of attrition will be over following November 4th.  If you are a Democrat, you have seen this drawn out campaign of Change vs. Experience for over 18 months, from Hillary to McCain, using the politics of fear to motivate voters away from the candidacy of Barack Obama.If you are a Republican, you have probably been turned every which way during this run of the Phoenix-like candidacy of John McCain, rising and falling with each victory and loss.  He has abandoned his right of center, original Maverick stance in an attempt to court the further right conservative base of his party, culminating with the much maligned (in hindsight) choice of Sarah Palin.You have seen negative campaigns and broken promises from both sides, twisting of truths, mountains of rhetoric regarding who will benefit from proponing each candidate.  The poor have generally been ignored by both sides while rich poor and middle have been buried in bailouts, worn out by war talk, rangled by robocalls, and generally exhausted by event fatigued.  So far the only real winners are CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and the general media.Because of the slanting and skewing, I’m going to give it to you raw and right down the middle.  Below are both candidate’s stances on all of the prevailing issues. I’m sure that you may have individual issues to augment this list but que sera sera.  Please read.  Please arm yourselves.  Please vote. Not because you are going to die, or because some rapper says so, or because some mogul who’s so rich it doesn’t really matter who wins wants to smother their promotion of misogyny and ignorance with a Obama flavored cherry on top like they give a f**k.  But because your children will have to live with the legacy of what this election has wrought; because this country is in the deepest s**t it’s been in since the Great Depression and arguably the Civil War. Inform yourselves and live well-Bill ABORTIONMcCainWould seek to overturn Roe but not back a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Rejects abortion litmus test for Supreme Court picks, but also vows to pick judges who would not “legislate from the bench.”ObamaFavors abortion rights, but says support for preserving Roe vs. Wade would not be a litmus test for Supreme Court picks.AFGHANISTANMcCainFavors unspecified boost in U.S. forces.ObamaWould add about 7,000 troops to the U.S. force of 36,000, bringing the reinforcements from Iraq.CAMPAIGN FINANCEMcCainThe co-author of McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is running his general campaign with public money and within its spending limits. He urged Obama to do the same. He applied for federal matching funds for primaries but later turned them down so he could spend more than the limits. The Federal Election Commission belatedly approved his decision to bypass the primary funds, but rejected McCain’s claim that he needed no such approval. He raised more than $160 million before having to stop to accept the $84 million in public money for the fall. McCain accepted primary campaign contributions from lobbyists.ObamaThe presidential campaign’s fundraising champion has brought in more than $450 million. He is raising private money for his general election, despite his proposal last year to accept public financing and its spending limits if the Republican nominee does, too. Obama refuses to accept money from federal lobbyists and has instructed the Democratic National Committee to do the same for its joint victory fund, an account that would benefit the nominee. Obama does accept money from state lobbyists and from family members of federal lobbyists.CUBAMcCainEase restrictions on Cuba once U.S. is “confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made.”ObamaEase restrictions on family-related travel and on money Cuban-Americans want to send to their families in Cuba. Open to meeting new Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions. Ease trade embargo if Havana “begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change.”DEATH PENALTYMcCainHas supported expansion of the federal death penalty and limits on appeals.ObamaSupports death penalty for crimes for which the “community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage.” As Illinois lawmaker, wrote bill mandating videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases and sought other changes in system that had produced wrongful convictions.EDUCATIONMcCainHe is not proposing a federal voucher program that would provide public money for private school tuition, in contrast to his proposed $5 billion voucher plan in 2000. Only proposes expansion of District of Columbia’s voucher program. Sees No Child Left Behind law as vehicle for increasing opportunities for parents to choose schools.ObamaAn $18 billion plan that would encourage, but not mandate, universal pre-kindergarten. Teacher pay raises tied to, although not based solely on, test scores. An overhaul of No Child Left Behind law to better measure student progress, make room for non-core subjects like music and art and be less punitive toward failing schools. A tax credit to pay up to $4,000 of college costs for students who perform 100 hours of community service a year. Obama would pay for part of his plan by ending corporate tax deductions for CEO pay.ENERGYMcCainFavors increased offshore drilling and building 45 nuclear power reactors by 2030. Crystal Benton, speaking for McCain, said he proposes no federal spending to help in construction of the plants. McCain believes the goal can be achieved with loan guarantees in existing law, with resolution of the impasse over waste disposal and with financial advantages the industry would have as a zero-emissions power source under his cap and trade program, she said. McCain opposes drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Proposed suspending the 18-cent a gallon federal gasoline tax but idea got no traction. Global warming plan would increase energy costs.

 

ObamaNow would consider limited increase in offshore drilling. Opposes drilling in Arctic reserve. Proposes windfall-profits tax on largest oil companies to pay for energy rebate of up to $1,000. Opposed suspension of the gas tax. Proposed releasing 70 million barrels of oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve to boost supplies. Global warming plan would increase energy costs.GAY MARRIAGEMcCainOpposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Says same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into legal agreements for insurance and similar benefits, and states should decide about marriage. Supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.ObamaOpposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Supports civil unions, says states should decide about marriage. Switched positions in 2004 and now supports repeal of Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.GLOBAL WARMINGMcCainBroke with President Bush on global warming. Led Senate effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions. Favors plan that would see greenhouse gas emissions cut by 66 percent by 2050.ObamaTen-year, $150 billion program to produce “climate friendly” energy supplies that he’d pay for with a carbon auction requiring businesses to bid competitively for the right to pollute and aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Joined McCain in sponsoring earlier legislation that would set mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Increase federal fuel economy requirements beyond 35 mpg.GUN CONTROLMcCainVoted against ban on assault-type weapons but in favor of requiring background checks at gun shows. Voted to shield gun-makers and dealers from civil suits. “I believe the Second Amendment ought to be preserved — which means no gun control.”ObamaVoted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to suit. Also, as Illinois state lawmaker, supported ban on all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms.HEALTH CAREMcCain$2,500 refundable tax credit for individuals, $5,000 for families, to make health insurance more affordable. No mandate for universal coverage. In gaining the tax credit, workers could not deduct the portion of their workplace health insurance paid by their employers.ObamaMandatory coverage for children, no mandate for adults. Aim for universal coverage by requiring employers to share costs of insuring workers and by offering coverage similar to that in plan for federal employees. Says package would cost up to $65 billion a year after unspecified savings from making system more efficient. Raise taxes on wealthier families to pay the cost.HOUSINGMcCainOpen to helping homeowners facing foreclosure if they are “legitimate borrowers” and not speculators.ObamaTax credit covering 10 percent of annual mortgage-interest payments for “struggling homeowners,” scoring system for consumers to compare mortgages, a fund for mortgage-fraud victims, new penalties for mortgage fraud, aid to state and local governments stung by housing crisis, in $20 billion plan geared to “responsible homeowners.”IMMIGRATIONMcCainSponsored 2006 bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S., work and apply to become legal residents after learning English, paying fines and back taxes and clearing a background check. Now says he would secure the border first. Supports border fence.ObamaVoted for 2006 bill offering legal status to illegal immigrants subject to conditions, including English proficiency and payment of back taxes and fines. Voted for border fence.IRANMcCainFavors tougher sanctions, opposes direct high-level talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.ObamaInitially said he would meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions, now says he’s not sure “Ahmadinejad is the right person to meet with right now.” But says direct diplomacy with Iranian leaders would give U.S. more credibility to press for tougher international sanctions. Says he would intensify diplomatic pressure on Tehran before Israel feels the need to take unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.SOCIAL SECURITYMcCain“Nothing’s off the table” when it comes to saving Social Security.ObamaWould raise payroll tax on wealthiest by applying it to portion of income over $250,000. Now, payroll tax is applied to income up to $102,000. Rules out raising the retirement age for benefits.IRAQMcCainOpposes scheduling a troop withdrawal, saying latest strategy is succeeding. Supported decision to go to war, but was early critic of the manner in which administration prosecuted it. Was key backer of the troop increase. Willing to have permanent U.S. peacekeeping forces in Iraq.Obama

Spoke against war at start, opposed troop increase. Voted against one major military spending bill in May 2007; otherwise voted in favor of money to support the war. Says his plan would complete withdrawal of combat troops in 16 months. Initially had said a timetable for completing withdrawal would be irresponsible without knowing what facts he’d face in office.STEM CELL RESEARCHBoth CandidatesSupport relaxing federal restrictions on financing of embryonic stem cell research.TAXESMcCainPledged not to raise taxes, then equivocated, saying nothing can be ruled out in negotiating compromises to keep Social Security solvent. Twice opposed Bush’s tax cuts, at first because he said they were tilted to the wealthiest and again because of the unknown costs of Iraq war. Now says those tax cuts, expiring in 2010, should be permanent. Proposes cutting corporate tax rate to 25 percent. Promises balance budget in first term, says that is unlikely in his first year.

ObamaRaise income taxes on wealthiest and their capital gains and dividends taxes. Raise corporate taxes. $80 billion in tax breaks mainly for poor workers and elderly, including tripling Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credit for larger families. Eliminate tax-filing requirement for older workers making under $50,000. A mortgage-interest credit could be used by lower-income homeowners who do not take the mortgage-interest deduction because they do not itemize their taxes.TRADEMcCainFree trade advocate.ObamaSeek to reopen North American Free Trade Agreement to strengthen enforcement of labor and environmental standards. In 2004 Senate campaign, called for “enforcing existing trade agreements,” not amending them.

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