Where Do the Candidates Stand on the United States Economy?


            It has been called Issue #1.  It is on the front page of major newspapers across the country, as President Bush seeks passage of a $700 billion bailout plan for financial firms.  It is the struggling United States economy.

            As countless Americans struggle to make ends meet as a result of rising gas prices, rising health care costs and stagnant wages, the United States economy has once again become the focal point of the 2008 presidential election.  But how do John McCain and Barack Obama plan to fix the ailing United States economy and how will their proposed initiatives affect you and your family?

Obama stated, “I believe that America’s free market has been the engine of America’s great progress.  It’s created a prosperity that is the envy of the world.  It’s led to a standard of living unmatched in history.  And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery … We are all in this together.  From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other’s success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”  

In an effort to help Americans struggling with high fuel and food costs, McCain plans to end America’s dependence on foreign oil by ending the federal moratorium on oil exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf.  The Arizona senator believes that a summer gas tax holiday from Memorial Day to Labor Day would have saved motorists $6.8 billion in taxes.

            For those struggling with high mortgage costs, McCain has proposed the new “HOME Plan,” which would allow homeowners to trade their existing mortgage for a more manageable home loan.

            “That plan [will require] participating lenders to forgive part of the loan principal and then write a new loan that would be backed by the federal government through the Federal Housing Administration,” wrote Tom Raum in the Tucson Citizen.

            The Republican nominee favors flexible work arrangements that would allow Americans to spend more time with their families, especially their children.  He plans to accomplish this by modernizing the nation’s labor laws allowing for more flexible work hours; promoting telework; which allows for less commuting; and ensuring that employees can choose the retirement plan that best fits their needs, which he thinks will boost the struggling United States economy.

            Senator Obama says that the Bush tax cut to the upper-class gives the wealthiest Americans a tax cut nearly 160 times larger than tax cuts received by the middle-class, severely damaging the United States economy.  He will enact a $1,000 tax cut to low-income families and eliminate income taxes for senior citizens earning less than $50,000 annually.

            According to Obama’s official website, he “will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid.”

            The Democratic nominee plans to crack down on fraudulent lending practices by introducing the STOP FRAUD Act last year that defines mortgage fraud, increases funding to law enforcement agencies and creates criminal penalties for those found guilty of mortgage fraud.  He is also proposing Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME), which provides future homeowners “a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages.”

            Obama also plans to assist working families by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow workers more time with their family during health emergencies.  He wants all 50 states to adopt a paid leave system and will provide $1.5 billion to assist states in implementing this plan.  He will also expand high quality afterschool programs to help working families provide a safe environment for their children at all times.

            Whether Obama or McCain is the next president, the United States economy will continue to be Issue #1 to many voters.  The question is can either candidate do enough to provide a stable financial future for many U.S. families?

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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