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The Last Straw for McCain

John McCain finds himself in a precarious but familiar position heading into Wednesday evening’s final presidential debate. Senator Barack Obama has decisive leads in several stronghold states, and in states that typically favored Republicans, polls indicate he is running close to Sen. McCain, within a few percentage points or even.

The tone of the campaign has turned both finicky and petulant in the McCain circle, with supporters crying for Obama’s head in more aggressive stump speech language, and media conservatives jumping ship at a crucial time. Governor Sarah Palin has remarkably remained below the radar since her lackluster debate performance, and anger-inciting rallies. Her closely huddled advisers have spirited her away until further notice, as truths about her involvement in an Alaska ethics scandal begin to emerge. Gov. Palin has falsely asserted that the investigation found that she made no unlawful decisions, and then in a turnabout claimed that the findings were fueled by partisan forces (a vast left-wing conspiracy?)

John McCain had established himself as an icon of the American cultural divide at one point, embracing the divisive language of his party’s base. The Virginia GOP chairman, Jeffrey Frederick, recently tied Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden saying both men were connected to people who bombed the Pentagon. McCain has not made gains with negative rhetoric, has openly rejected the notion that Sen. Obama was “unsafe” to lead Americans after being questioned about his supposed Arab origins at a rally, and only mildly pursued accusations about Barack Obama‘s links to Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

But on the heels of a financial rescue, the public is less concerned about potential character flaws in the candidates, while maintaining grave concern about the state of our now state-sponsored economy.

The Economy Matters

Who is better equipped to manage the most volatile market in decades?

President George W. Bush has proven himself a novice in dealing with both the precipitous lending crisis, and the following market collapse. Barack Obama has never been responsible for such a large budget. John McCain made several curious decisions surrounding the crisis, including suspending his campaign to dismantle the initial talks between House Republicans and Democrats about the financial bailout.

The Obama Plan Versus The McCain Plan

The Obama Economic Plan

The McCain Economic Plan

  • For Americans earning more than $250,000 a year, Obama intends to return their tax rates to the Bill Clinton/Robert Rubin era, which if you recall was not a terrible economic time for the United States. Obama intends to give a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families with children. He will spend money on programs that he believes in, such as providing healthcare to all Americans, but he will pay for it without raising taxes on the average American. Ending the war in Iraq will free up enormous amounts of funding to be better spent here at home.

  • Obama wants to open up economic opportunity to all by emphasizing preschool education, higher pay and accountability for teachers, and greater emphasis on student loans and scholarships for college.

  • Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007 with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to reward companies that create good jobs with good benefits for American workers.

  • Invest In A Clean Energy Economy And Create 5 Million New Green Jobs: Obama and Biden 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.

  • Obama and Biden will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not itemize tax relief. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.

  • John McCain has proposed a new “HOME Plan” to provide the opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home’s market value.

  • John McCain is proposing a student loan continuity plan. Students face the possibility that the credit crunch will disrupt loans for the fall semester. John McCain calls on the federal government and the 50 governors to anticipate loan problems and expand the lender-of-last resort capabilities for each state’s guarantee agency.

  • John McCain believes that globalization is an opportunity for American workers today and in the future. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers lie outside our borders, and we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. To do so, the U.S. should engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules.

  • John McCain believes we should send a strong message to world markets. Under his plan, the United States will be telling oil producing countries and oil speculators that our dependence on foreign oil will come to an end – and the impact will be lower prices at the pump.

  • Low individual tax rates – sole-proprietorships, partnerships, landlords and others are taxed under the individual income tax.

  • Access to capital from low tax rates on dividends and capital gains.

  • Minimizing expensive mandates – such as those for health insurance and pro-union initiatives like card check.

McCain’s plan lacks specifics, possibly because his candidacy has turned almost wholesale away from supporting the capitalist leaders now thought to be the perpetrators of our nation’s crisis. Republican party platforms have typically supported larger businesses, but the language of his economic package has emphasized the small business owner. He has unveiled an economic plan at almost every stage of the crisis. His latest iteration calls for the federal government to buy up bad mortgages (those at risk to default) at their present value. In essence, it would continue the bizarre lending practices that deepened the credit crisis. He has advocated for the reform of government spending without necessarily explaining what major programs he would cut. In addition, the corporate tax cuts he is typically aligned with have never yielded economic growth in American history.
Barack Obama’s plan outlines various programs that put tax dollars in future industries. At the base of his plan, he seeks to invigorate the public education system, the search for energy solutions beyond oil, and the

healthcare system. Critics contend that paying for such an overhaul of the public trust’s institutions would mean increasing spending significantly at a time when tax hikes would touch sensitive households the most. Senator Obama has repeatedly assured that his tax cuts — the core of his plan — would benefit 95% of Americans, freeing up their spending capabilities and impetus to start businesses.

As the debate nears, Americans will be seeking explicit language about how to ease the hurt of spiraling banks and mortgage woes. The next President will be charged with serious tasks in the famous first 100 days of his term. Should John McCain assume office, he will be hard-pressed to make up for an admitted lack of fundamental knowledge. Barack Obama will have a similar challenge at hand in his term: using his flexible mind to understand a rapidly changing economic cycle in a major transition. The debate may be a mash of carefully decided talking points but Obama stands to lose just as much ground if he cannot articulate his bold vision for financial prosperity.

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