2008 Elections
Election day has come and gone and the American people voted for change in the White House. The democratic nominee Barack Obama won with 364 electoral votes compared to John McCains 163.
Presidential Election 2008 results from CNN

The Presidential Election of 2008 will go down in history. Barack Obama is the first African American President Elect for this country. What amazing strides we have made in terms of equality. It is truely great to see the American people put race and prejudice aside. Not only that but there has also been progress made toward gender equality. With Hillary Clinton almost becoming the democratic nominee during the pimaries and Sarah Palin almost making it into the White House as John McCain's running mate.
The Presumptive Nominees (as of 7/28)
CNN's National Poll of Polls
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**Barack Obama**

**John McCain**

Other Presidential Candidates include (with most names as links to their campaign website):
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.org
Chuck Baldwin Constitution Party

Cynthia McKinney Green Party

Bob Barr Libertarian Party

Gene Amondson Prohibition Party

Ted Weill Reform Party

Gloria La Riva Party for Socialism and Liberation

Brian Moore Socialist Party

Róger Calero Socialist Workers’ Party

Alan Keyes Independent

Ralph Nader Independent

For a political breakdown of some of these parties visit this chart from wikipedia.

Comparing the major Candidates

I listened to this NPR broadcast and learned a lot about the candidates' positions.

Fresh Air

Comparing the Candidates by Fox News

According to FoxNews.com the following issues were selected to compare the two candidates for the 2008 election: abortion; energy/environment; immigration; iraq; and taxes. Among these issues, Barack Obama and John McCain's views will be brieflly addressed.

Abortion Issue:
As a candidate for the Democratic party, Obama supports abortion rights and believes that the woman should have the right to make decisions for abortions. His counterpart, McCain believes that the states should have the authority to provide assistance to the expectant mothers and provide alternatives to abortion.

Follow this link to a comparison of Obama's & McCain's stance on abortion.

Energy/Environment Issue:
As a candidate for the Republican party, McCain supports a bill that sets mandatory caps on greenhouse emissions and promotes more investment in alternative sources of energy, such as nuclear power, ethanol, fuel cells, bio-diesel, and natural gas. On the other hand, Obama would create a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, taking revenues generated from the program to help those negatively impacted by the limits. He would raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and beleives that his plan would promote investment in renewable fuels as well.

Follow this link to a news story and video comparing Obama's & McCain's stance on energy.

Immigration Issue:
Although both candidates believe that border patrol should be enhanced to minimize illegal immigration, there are key differences among the two candidates. Obama believes in implementing a system where illegals could earn citizenship by paying a fine, learning English, and waiting their turn behind legal immigrants. He believes that the U.S. needs an improved employment verification system and more serious employer sanctions for those who hire illegal immigrants. His counterpart, McCain wants a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would improve border surveillance and enforcement, strengthen penalties against those who hire illegal immigrants, and stop document fraud. Unlike Obama, McCain wants to develop a guest worker program that allows illegal immigrants to earn legitimate status. Under McCain's reform bill, illegal immigrants would have to learn English, pay fines and back taxes, and clear a background check before becoming legal citizens.

Follow this link to a blog comparing Obama's & McCain's stance on immigration.

Iraq Issue:
From the start of the Iraq war Obama was opposed with this idea and now he favors a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. McCain has criticized Democrats who support a troop withdrawal timeline, but has also criticized the administration for mishandling the war. He specically blames Donald Rumsfield as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.

Follow this link to a comparison of Obama's & McCain's stance on Iraq.

Tax Issue:
Obama would allow the tax cuts to expire for households earning more than $250,000. He acknowledges that additional revenue might be needed to achieve his health care goals, but says a large amount of money can be saved within the existing system. McCain believes that tax cuts work best in conjunction with lower spending. McCain proposes that he would not raise taxes, but that he would not go as far as to sign a pledge to that effect. He believes a repeal of the estate tax is not necessary.

(Source: FoxNews.com July 27, 2008. //http://elections.foxnews.com/candidates///)

In a recent class discussion we touched on the topic estate tax, and that there will be changes made to it after this upcoming election. Let's take a look at the current candidates position. Obama & McCain's stance on Estate tax

The following issues can be found on www.CNN.com:

Social Security

Strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security. Believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax applies to only the first $97,500 a worker earns; Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security. Would work with Congress to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security solvent for at least the next half century.

When asked about Social Security during a GOP debate, he stated: "Every man, woman and child in America needs to know it's going broke, and we've got to do the hard things. We've got to fix it for the future generations of Americans ... It's got to be bipartisan. And you have to go to the American people and say we won't raise your taxes. We need personal savings accounts, but we [have] to fix this system."


Stated during GOP primary debates: "We need more charter schools. We need vouchers where it's approved by the local, state school boards. We need to have, clearly, home schooling if people want that … We need to reward good teachers and find bad teachers another line of work."

No Child Left Behind (NCLB):
Voted for NCLB. The McCain campaign, on its Web site, states: While NCLB has been invaluable in providing a clear picture of which schools and students are struggling, it is only the beginning of education reform.

Title II Funding:
Proposes devoting 5 percent of Title II funding - a provision of the Higher Education Act passed in 1998 to increase accountability and development of teachers - to states to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class or participate in alternative teacher recruitment programs. Said he would devote 60 percent of Title II funding for incentive bonuses for high-performing teachers located in challenging environments, teach subjects like math or science, or demonstrate student improvement. Proposes directing the first 35 perfect of Title II funding from federal coffers toward the school so principals and teachers can focus on the specific needs of their schools.

Technology and learning:
Supports expanding virtual learning by reforming the "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program." Said he would target $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings for students. Said he would allocate $250 million to support states that commit to expanding online education opportunities. Proposes offering $250 million to help students pay for online tutors or enroll in virtual schools. Said low-income students would be eligible to receive up to $4,000 to enroll in an online course, SAT/ACT prep course, credit recovery or tutoring services offered by a virtual provider.
external image video_icon.gifWatch McCain speak about education

Advocates ensuring access to high-quality early childhood education programs and child care opportunities, recruit well-qualified and reward expert, accomplished teachers. Make science and math education a national priority. Reduce the high school dropout rate and empower parents to raise healthy and successful children by taking a greater role in their child's education at home and at school.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB):
Says the overall goal of NCLB "is the right one … but the law has significant flaws that need to be addressed."

Early childhood education:
Proposes investing $10 billion a year to increase the number of children eligible for Early Head Start, increase access to preschool, provide affordable and quality child care and increase coordination across federal, state and local levels. Proposes to increase the child and dependent care tax credit.

College tuition:
Proposes scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location. Advocates schools dedicated to enabling "teachers to learn from expert practitioners in the field." Says he would provide $1 billion in funding to create mentoring programs for teachers.

Teacher service scholarships:
Proposes an annual $4,000 tuition credit that will cover two-thirds of the tuition of an average public college and make community college completely free in America. Says he would expand the Pell Grant and lower interest rates on the existing federal student loan programs.
external image video_icon.gif Watch Obama speak about education

Housing Industry
Home prices are declining and foreclosure filings are skyrocketing. Several prominent companies that engaged in volatile sub prime loans have gone bankrupt or have been bought out, while the people they loaned money to are faced with mortgage bills they often cannot pay.

Proposes creating a $10 billion fund to help prevent foreclosures, eliminate some taxes and fees for families who must sell and offer counseling to homeowners. Announced a "credit card bill of rights" to provide disclosure of hidden credit costs. Would provide tax credits to 10 million middle class homeowners who struggle with mortgage costs. external image video_icon.gif Watch Obama speak about the mortgage crisis

Would consider greater intervention by the federal government to limit effects of mortgage crisis if current measures fail. Believes a government bailout should only be a last resort.
external image video_icon.gif Watch McCain speak about the mortgage crisis

Economic Stimulus
With recession fears dampening consumer confidence, President Bush is pushing Congress to quickly pass a bill that would infuse the economy with cash for individuals and families and inspire corporate growth through tax breaks.

Would pump $75 billion into the economy via tax cuts and direct spending targeted to working families, seniors, homeowners and the unemployed. The plan also includes $45 billion in reserves that can be injected into the economy quickly in the future if the economy continues to deteriorate. Would provide an immediate $250 tax cut for workers and their families and an immediate, temporary $250 bonus to seniors in their Social Security checks. Would provide an additional $250 tax cut to workers and an additional $250 to seniors if the economy continues to worsen. Would extend and expand unemployment insurance.
external image video_icon.gif **Watch Obama speak about the economic stimulus**

Would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Would allow first-year deduction of equipment and technology investments and establish a permanent research and development tax credit equal to 10 percent of wages spent on R&D.
external image video_icon.gif **Watch McCain speak about the economic stimulus**

Voting History
Often times, politicians will tell you what you want to hear, so to find out where exactly each candidate stands, you can visit the website Congress Merge. Congress Merge provides a lot of information about each member of Congress. One of the new features of this website is that you can now get access to their voting history so you can see how the candidate voted in an issue.
Click here for Senator John McCain's voting history.
Click here for Senator Barack Obama's voting history.

Health Care
Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls propose solutions to deal with one of the most critical issues facing millions of Americans.

Opposes federally mandated universal coverage. Would increase awareness and promote the use of existing children's health insurance programs while expanding community health centers. Supports health care tax dividends for low-income Americans, medical malpractice reform, improving electronic-
record keeping, expanding health saving accounts, and encouraging small businesses to band together to negotiate lower rates with health care providers.
Watch McCain speak about health care

Would create a national health insurance program for individuals who do not have employer-provided health care and who do not qualify for other existing federal programs. Allow individuals to choose between the new public insurance program or from private insurance plans that meet certain coverage standards. Requires employers who do not provide health coverage for employees to pat into the national health insurance program. Does not mandate individual coverage for all Americans, but requires coverage for all children. Allows individuals below age 25 to be covered through their parents' plans. Cost estimated between $50 billion and $65 billion, to be paid for by eliminating Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.
Watch Obama speak about health care

Presidential Tax Proposals

There are clear differences between Mccain and Obama’s tax plans. Obama’s plan would burden high-income taxpayers the most, especially those making $250,000 plus. Everyone else would see a reduced tax bill. The largest tax cut, as a percentage of income, would go to those in the lowest tax bracket. However, Mccain’s plan would benefit high-income taxpayers the most, while low-income brackets would also see tax breaks, but these breaks would be small as a share of income. Mccain’s plan would benefit top one percent of taxpayers the most, while all taxpayers, except for those in the top five percent would benefit from Obama’s plan. (2 July 2008 <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91479424>). These examples below give a brief synopsis of how these taxes will affect earner’s income. According to Mccain’s plan, if one makes between 160-225 thousand dollars then they will get a break of $4400. Under Obama’s the same income bracket would get a break of $2800. Now, if one makes up to $20,000 they will get a break of $19 under Mccain’s plan, but under Obama’s plan they would save $570.
Interesting note, according to the IRS, top one percent of earners pay more income tax that bottom ninety percent of earners.
5 July 2008 <http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/10/top-1-pay-more-.html>.

Tax Differences

-MCCAIN - (no changes) Single making 30K - tax $4,500

Single making 50K - tax $12,500

Single making 75K - tax $18,750

Married making 60K- tax $9,000

Married making 75K - tax $18,750

Married making 125K - tax $31,250

-OBAMA - Increase to: Single making 30K - tax $8,400

Single making 50K - tax $14,000

Single making 75K - tax $23,250

Married making 60K - tax $16,800

Married making 75K - tax $21,000

Married making 125K - tax $38,750

30 July <http://www.e-thepeople.org/article/2240201/view>.

Mccain’s Plan

- Make Bush tax cuts 0f 2001 and 2003 permanent, except estate tax. (Estate tax- taxes levied on assets of deceased family members)
- Increase estate tax exemption to $5 million level at a reduced tax rate of 15%
- Keep capital gains rate at 15%
- Cut corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% gradually
- Make tax credit for research and experimentation permanent and equal to 10% of total wages spent on research
- Keep 15% tax on capital gains and dividends
- Extend and increase higher AMT (alternative minimum tax) exemption amounts of 2007 and increase exemption by additional 5% per year after 2013 (temporarily)

Obama’s Plan

- Permanently extend certain conditions of 2001 and 2003 tax for those below the $250,000 income bracket and remove cuts to those in the top two marginal income tax rates before their expiration in 2010
- Restore 36% and 39.6% tax rates for highest income earners
- Increase capital gains and dividends tax for top income brackets at an assumed rate of 25%
- Keep estate tax in 2009 form, the $3.5 million level taxable at 45% rate
- Establish tax credit for bottom 95% of earners that equals 6.2% of up to $8,100 earnings
- Exempt seniors making $50,000 or less from income tax
- Place new social security tax on high income earners of $250,000 plus at a rate of 2-4%
- AMT reform, meaning indexing AMT exemption amounts for inflation from 2007 level and allow taxpayers to claim tax credits against AMT permanently.

Both policies would increase deficit:
- Mccain would increase deficit by $4.5 trillion
- Obama would increase deficit by $3.3 trillion
10 July 2008 <http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/UploadedPDF/411741_updated_candidates.pdf>.