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2008 Cliff Notes on the Candidates


By Elise Chazyn

The upcoming November presidential election has quickly become one of the most important in current political history, due to problems with our economy, the increasing price of higher education and health care, the Iraq War, along with many other issues. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on! The following comparison examines the main talking points from each of the candidates’ stances on four important political issues. All we can do is hope, wait and trust – and educate our voters.

John McCain – Republican Party

Born: August 29, 1936 Coco Solo Naval Air Station, Panama Canal Zone, Panama
School: United States Naval Academy 1958, National War College at Fort McNair
Military Svc: Vietnam War (naval aviator); Prisoner of War 1967-1973
Occupation: Naval captain; Naval Liaison to the U.S. Senate Arizona Senator since 1986

      Following a failed presidential campaign against George W. Bush in 2000, McCain used his political capital, as well as improved legislative skills, to become one of the Senate’s most influential members. He ran again for the Republican presidential nomination and became his party’s presumptive nominee in March 2008. McCain plans to make the Bush tax cuts permanent instead of letting them expire and offers off-shore drilling as well as building nuclear reactors to establish the U.S.’ independence on foreign oil.


       McCain supported the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package.

He plans to increase federal insurance for money deposited in personal bank accounts to $250,000.

He also called for the creation of a Mortgage and Financial Institutions Trust, CNN reported, to help companies avoid bankruptcy while protecting their customers. The money would also help consumers restructure loans so they can keep their homes.


      The Arizona senator voted in 2002 for use of military force in Iraq and does not believe in setting a withdrawal timetable.

He believes that the United Nations should play a role in supporting Iraqi provincial governments’ elections in late 2008 and the national government elections in 2009.


      “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,” the GOP candidate said during the primary debate, as reported on CNN.

McCain voted for the No Child Left Behind law, and he believes it provides a clear picture of which schools and which students are struggling.

He wants to reform the Enhancing Education through Technology Program: $500 million in current federal funds will be set aside to build new virtual schools and support the development of online courses. Additionally, McCain proposes offering $250 million to help students pay for online tutors or enroll in virtual schools.

Under McCain’s plan, 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 act, CNN reported.


      McCain stands against federally authorized universal coverage. He believes competition will improve the quality of health insurance. “Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines, and their policy should follow them from job to job,” states the McCain campaign Web site (

McCain says he would reform the tax code to offer choices beyond employeebased health insurance coverage. Every family would receive a direct refundable tax credit for $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families.

McCain’s Web site states that he would “pass medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols.”


Barrack Obama – Democratic Party

Born: August 4, 1961, Honolulu, HI
School: Columbia University 1983, Harvard University Law 1991
Military Svc: None
Occupation: Community Organizer, Chicago south side Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Chicago 1992-2004, Illinois Senator since 2004

      In 2008, Obama sought and received the Democratic nomination for the presidency. During the race for the White House, he has had to tackle issues of race, since he is the first African-American to be nominated by a major political party for president. “Highlighting Change,” the focal point of his campaign, has attracted the attention from young voters and disillusioned citizens, among others, while emphasizing the economy, withdrawing American troops from Iraq, and promoting universal health care as top national priorities.


      Obama supported the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package.

He advocates a series of reforms for the financial sector that include new oversight of investment banks, more disclosure by financial firms, higher capital requirements for firms used to operating with a minimal cash backstop, and more consistent rules that apply to all financial institutions, not just regular banks.

He also supports a $50 billion emergency economic stimulus plan: the money will go toward one million jobs for rebuilding infrastructure and schools, and help local governments avoid budget cuts.


      In 2002, Obama opposed the use of military force in Iraq, explaining that he is not “opposed to all wars; I am opposed to dumb wars.” Under Obama’s proposed schedule, troops would be removed from Iraq within 16 months and be complete by summer 2010.


      Obama vows to reform the No Child Left Behind law and improve its assessments and accountability systems; Obama believes the goal of No Child Left Behind was the right one, but was implemented poorly and has “demoralized our educators and broken its promise to our children.”

Obama says he will establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 a year that would make community college completely free for most students. He says he will expand the Pell Grant and lower interest rates on the existing federal student loan programs.

He also proposes teacher service scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for a period of at least four years in a high-need field or location.


      Obama’s plan is to 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. The plan would be required for all children and allow individuals below age 25 to be covered through their parents’ plans. According to Obama’s campaign web site (, coverage would have benefits similar to those offered to Congress through the Federal Employees Benefits Program.

People who don’t get insurance from an employer or qualify for government plans like Medicaid would get an income-based federal subsidy.

Obama estimates the cost at between $50 billion and $65 billion, to be paid for by eliminating Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 per year.

Log on to these sites to check the facts!

0 0 932 03 September, 2008 National, News September 3, 2008

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