Warehouse F

How They Stand

The Unseen Enemy
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Obama Vs. McCain: Their Economic Platforms Differ

By James Donahue

As the foundations of Wall Street and American big business interests crumble, there has been much rhetoric as to the ability of either Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama to fix the mess delivered by wheeler-dealers in Washington and in high financial circles. Thus the economic stimulus packages proposed by these presidential candidates become even more important for voters to understand.

The problem our next president will have is that because of the overwhelming multi-trillion dollar national debt created by the outgoing Bush Administration from waging two wars and now bailing out big banks and lending institutions there will be little if any money in the Washington coffers to make many changes.

Obama, however, said this week on CBS “60-Minutes” that he was confident new programs can be instituted. He said the solution will be shutting down old programs that no longer work and using the money to pay for the new ones. McCain proposes a simple plan to curtail “wasteful spending.” Both proposals have been offered by past presidential contenders but never accomplished once they got in office.

Obama is presenting a detailed plan that is obviously frightening big business interests. He consequently is coming under such severe attack by the right wing pontificators on our nightly television screen and the Republican Party.

For example, the Obama plan calls for a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits to provide a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to American families, the provision of a $25 billion State Growth Fund to prevent state and local government cuts in health, education, housing and heating assistance, and another $25 billion in a Jobs and Growth Fund to prevent cuts in road and bridge maintenance and pay for school repairs.

The Democratic plan also calls for a $1,000 reduction in taxes for working families, either via a tax credit of up to $500 per person or $1,000 a family. Such a credit would eliminate income taxes for an estimated 10 million Americans.

They also want to eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 a year. Thus an estimated 27 million American seniors will not have to file an income tax return.

For those who would still be caught up in the income tax system, Obama and Biden want to dramatically simplify tax forms so most Americans can not only understand their tax forms, but calculate and pay their taxes within five minutes. Some experts estimate that the plan will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and $2 million in tax preparer fees.

The Obama plan would put a stop to tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, reward companies that support American workers, attempt to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement so that it includes benefits for North American workers, and fight for a fair trade policy that will open foreign markets to support good American jobs.

The Obama plan includes a long list of innovative ideas for stimulating new and existing businesses, including tax relief for small businesses and start-up companies, and creating a national network of public and private business incubators to help entrepreneurs create start-up companies.

Obama and Biden say they also want to support union labor in America, do what they can to stop the attacks on unions and encourage workers to get involved in union activities. They also believe the minimum wage should be raised to cover the basic needs of American families.

McCain on the other hand calls for cutting the corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent, cover the reduction in tax receipts with cuts in “pork-barrel spending,” allow expansion of business equipment and technology investment and introduce a tax credit equal to 10 percent of wages spend in research and development.

The problem with the McCain plan is that it favors big business interests and cuts spending for such important “pork barrel” projects as rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, improving schools and fighting global warming.

McCain would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax which costs middle class families nearly $60 billion a year, extend the Bush tax cuts giving workers another $100 billion a year in additional income, and raise tax credits to $2,500 per person and $5,000 per family toward health care insurance.

To pay for this he promises to cut wasteful government spending (good luck on that one) and wants to supplement social security with personal accounts (risky stock investments). He also calls for controls on Medicare costs, and Medicare reform, which probably means the people who depend on Medicare will pay a larger share of doctor and hospital bills. McCain also proposes to eliminate tax loopholes.

The McCain plan appears to be more of the same. He would continue to support the big business interests that are financing his campaign and maintain the same tax cuts established by the Bush Administration. The tax cuts favor wealthy wage earners and dole out but a few crumbs to the lower and middle class.

Obama, on the other hand, offers proposals that would benefit a majority of the working class in America, and puts the tax burden on the people who can afford it.