Presidential_Candidates_Democratic and the Republican Party
This paper evaluates the issues of interest in the 2008 presidential election and presents reflection how each candidate addressed them in their campaign. Specifically the issues of the economy, education, energy, healthcare and the war in Iraq are examined for their social relevance and the individual candidate’s position on the subject. The paper also reflects the success of the elected president with regards to proposed solutions to these issues during their campaign.
In the 2008 election the Democratic Party nominated Illinois State Senator Barack Obama for the presidency. In opposition the Republican Party nominated Arizona State Senator John McCain for the same seat. There were many issues at hand that the candidates where pressed to present resolutions to by the public. The issued addressed by both Republican and Democratic Parties where very similar. These issues were inclusive of the economy, education, energy, healthcare and the war in Iraq. There were other issues presented yet these maintained the most attractive of the public’s attention. First and foremost the issue of the nation’s economy received the most attention as it is a major issue for the public with regards to unemployment, interest rates, foreclosures and gas prices. These issues where addressed both by Obama and McCain. The nation’s economy has been suffering for many years under the weight of unregulated banking practices, taxes and loss of employment. What are the underlying issues present in this situation and what if any attention is given to these issues by either president incumbents?
With the unemployment rate climbing from 4.6 in January of 2007 to 7.3 in December of 2008 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012), both candidates had a large interest in addressing this issue to the satisfaction of the public. The common plan between the two was the “wall street bailout”, a plan in which the government commits to spend $700 billion to merger banking giants and bail out insurance companies and finance companies such as American International Group and Fannie Mae (CNNPolitics.com, 2008). Although supportive of the same plan both candidates presented a differing course of action. Obama proposed a series of financial reforms inclusive of “new oversight of investment banks”, financial firm transparency, higher capital requirements and consistency in rules for all financial institutions (CNNPolitics.com, 2008). In short, according to the Democratic Party the blame for the financial districts failing is a result of lackadaisical and/or absent regulation by the government. Inclusive of around $100 billion in additional spending Obama proposed several “funds” to help stimulate the economy, provide more jobs and temporarily reduce taxes on unemployment and small businesses.
Republican Party nominee John McCain also supported the $700 billion “bail out” plan. However in opposition to Obama the Republican Party avoided accountability of banking institutes to focus on federal government and wall-street involvement. McCain proposed that mortgages in default could be purchased from the banks by the federal government and then restructured to make them affordable to homeowners. However, McCain also proposed qualifications for this inclusive of a “substantial down payment” (CNNPolotics.com, 2008). It seems odd that this would be expected of a homeowner when they already are having trouble making the loan payments. It seems unlikely that they will be able to meet this requirement. In this McCain is supportive of increase government involvement. McCain does however maintain the Republican Party’s position on taxation. McCain proposed the lowering of tax rates of withdrawals from tax preferred accounts and the suspension of required dissolvent of IRA’s and 401K’s. In summation it is proposed that it is the federal governments fault due to high taxes and financial restrictions. It seems that the proposed plans by McCain will only really benefit the financial institutes and investors. If the perspective of the institutes supporting the people continues in opposition to the people supporting the institutions it is probable that the financial problems present in our country will only get worse for those who are not financially independent.
The issue of education in America is a hot topic for both Democratic and Republican Party’s. Both candidates support educational reform and in conjunction with this support the “No Child Left Behind” law requiring schools to set higher standards for education based on standardized test results, in particular those of a high minority populous with the goal of reaching proficiency no later than 2014 (New York Times, 2012). The law, due for renewal in 2007, was a major point of interest for both candidates as it was a present opportunity to affect change for the nation. McCain proposed that proposed incentives for teachers that demonstrate student improvement, are considered top in their class working in a “challenging environment” or that teach classes applicable to future careers such as science and mathematics. McCain also proposed $500 million be allocated by the federal government t6owards support and development of online classes and the student’s ability to pay for them (CNNPolitics.com, 2008). These are clearly beneficial ideas in regards to improving education for our nation’s youth, particularly for those in challenging environments with fewer resources.
Obama’s proposal for educational reform encompassed an investment of $10 billion annually to increase the amount of children that could be eligible for Early Head Start. This money would also be spent to increase common access to pre-school and affordable childcare. One profound proposal of Obama was to institute scholarships to cover 4 undergraduate or 2 graduate years of education for those pursuing a teaching degree in exchange for subsequent teaching in a “high-needs field or location” (CNNPolitics.com, 2008). As learning habits are formed at a very young age increasing access to early education could have a great impact on future generations and their ability to succeed. The idea of exchanging tuition for service in my opinion is simply beautiful. I state this opinion because in my experience it is the simplest of ideas that most often solve a problem. This would have a ripple effect as it would provide an otherwise absent opportunity for many students in the country while in all probability placing the graduate teacher in a scholastic environment similar to their own prior to higher education. In these instances the teacher may be more effective due to an easier time establishing rapport and understanding with regards to the students.
With gas prices increasing, global climate change and the increasing use of energy booth parties proposed several solutions to the energy crisis facing most Americans at the gas pumps or in their utility bills. Obama was supportive of windfall profit taxes being imposed on oil companies while taking a hesitant but open minded stance on the lifting of federal regulations for off shore oil drilling. He also proposed funding that would help transition the public and auto manufacturers to more fuel efficient vehicles. With proposed “energy rebates” paid for from the oil companies’ profits Obama gained the attention of the American people once again through his simplistic reasoning. Although a supporter of clean energy research and development Obama also supported the increased research and use of nuclear technology and coal as sources of energy. This is interesting because they seem to conflict with each other. If we as Americans are investing in clean energy for our future, why would we invest in the increased use of energy sources that where counter-productive to that goal? McCain was also a supporter of the increased use and development of these toxic energy sources. McCain’s approach to decreasing fuel consumption was to propose a $300 million reward for the development of a battery package that could “leapfrog” the current hybrid or electric cars (CNNPolotics.com, 2012). One proposal by McCain in regards to the disposal/storage of nuclear waste was to
“provide a proprietary interest so when advanced recycling technologies turn used fuel into a valuable commodity, the public will share in its economic benefits” (CNNPolotics.com, 2012).
This statement stood out because simply put McCain proposed to states that if they take in the toxic waste that may destroy their environment, if they ever figure out a way to recycle the material in such a way that they can make a profit they will share this profit with the hosting state. This again seems counterproductive to his proposal for tax credits to those who develop a market for fuel sources such as wind, hydro and solar.
Healthcare reform in the United States had become a subject of great debate during this time. As many as 45.7 million people were without health insurance in 2007 (DeNavas-Wait, C. Proctor, D. B & Smith, C. J, 2009). Obama proposed to address this issue by the creation of a national health insurance program for those who do not have insurance provided through their employer. The funding for this would come from eliminating the reduction of the income tax cap instituted by Bush that only saved money for the people making over $250,000 annually. He also proposed requirements of employers to provide health coverage or pay into the national healthcare fund out of payroll. Although this could create tremendous costs for companies it can easily be viewed as an investment in the companies infrastructure; the employee. McCain opposed the national healthcare coverage plan but did present an option for refundable tax credits to individuals and family to those privately providing their own insurance. His reasoning for opposing the national healthcare coverage plan was that he felt it would reduce the quality of healthcare coverage by removing competition. This is understandable yet if through policy certain standards of care are maintained there is no need of competition. The fundamental problem with healthcare in general is that it is a profit bases system. Simply put, it is a system that makes money off the sick and injured. If healthcare provided cures instead of treatments there would be no healthcare industry. The system must maintain the ill health of its constituents in order to sustain itself. This is the real issue behind the need for healthcare reform.
The War in Iraq
As many American families suffered the absence of members due to deployment over-seas Obamas position had great appeal. Obama was against deployment of troops to Iraq and proposed their total withdrawal by 2013. His position on military influence also extended to eliminate the construction of permanent U.S military bases in the country. McCain on the other hand supported the deployment of troops and advocated an increase to quell violence. McCain also proposed that the United Nations take a more active role in supporting the countries provincial and national elections. His reasoning was so that America could be “secure in her freedom” (CNNPolotics.com, 2008). What securities is he referring to? If we achieved independence from the oil supply provided by Iraq would we even have a presence there at all?
It is clear that both candidates placed great focus and creativity on the issues found to be most important to the American public. Subsequently, both candidates supported the agenda of their respective parties in that Obamas focus was that of increased government control for the benefit of American citizens while McCain’s was focused on finance that would help corporate and banking systems under the guise of these systems providing a more stable financial system for its constituents. Although both parties had great ideas as solutions for these issues, the one flaw present in both campaigns is the absence of a unified purpose between the governments, financial and civilian districts for the betterment of the country and its citizens as a whole. It is understandable how conflict can induce growth yet at what point does the conflict become so prevalent that it distracts from the original purpose; the betterment of the people.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2012). Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject, Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. Retrieved on Nov. 4th 2012 from http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
CNNPolitics.com, (2008). Economy, Issues, Election Center 2008, CNNPolitics.com. Retrieved on Nov. 4th 2012 from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.economic.stimulus.html
CNNPolitics.com, (2008). Education, Issues, Election Center 2008, CNNPolitics.com. Retrieved on Nov. 4th 2012 from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.education.html
CNNPolitics.com, (2008). Energy, Issues, Election Center 2008, CNNPolitics.com. Retrieved on Nov. 5th 2012 from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.energy.html
CNNPolitics.com, (2008). Healthcare, Issues, Election Center 2008, CNNPolitics.com. Retrieved on Nov. 6th 2012 from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.healthcare.html
CNNPolitics.com, (2008). Iraq, Issues, Election Center 2008, CNNPolitics.com. Retrieved on Nov. 6th 2012 from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.iraq.html
DeNavas-Wait, C. Proctor. D B & Smith, C. J, (2009). Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Government Printing Office. p.20. Retrieved on Nov. 5th 2012 from http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-236.pdf
New York Times, Author Unavailable, (2012). No Child Left Behind, Times Topics, The New York Times, nytimes.com. Retrieved on Nov. 4th 2012 from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/n/no_child_left_behind_act/index.html