Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack Obama And John McCain Battle Over Economic Policy

Barack ObamaDoes Barack Obama or John McCain offer the best hope for the U.S. economy? This, of course, is the number one issue on everyone’s mind for the upcoming presidential election. The candidate who is able to best answer this question, and do so in a way that Americans can understand, stands a great chance of becoming our next president. So which candidate does offer the best hope for our economy anyway? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Yesterday in Raleigh, Obama attacked McCain’s economic policy, calling it a repeat of Bush’s miserable failure. Obama’s own plans for the economy include an expansion of unemployment benefits, another economic stimulus package of $50 billion, tax cuts for the middle and lower classes and relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, according to the International Herald Tribune. Obama was quoted in the article as saying, "We were promised a fiscal conservative. Instead, we got the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history. And now John McCain wants to give us another. Well, we've been there once. We're not going back."

The McCain campaign didn’t take the attacks sitting down, though. "While hardworking families are hurting and employers are vulnerable, Barack Obama has promised higher income taxes, Social Security taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and tax hikes on job-creating businesses," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement issued before Obama's remarks, according to the International Herald Tribune. "Barack Obama doesn't understand the American economy, and that's change we just can't afford.” McCain’s plans for the economy include keeping the Bush tax cuts in place as well as tax cuts for businesses.

In the end it comes down to two schools of economic thought. Obama believes that government spending and policies can help us get out of the economic rut. His policies are going to increase government spending, and overall government involvement in the economy. McCain, on the other hand, belongs to the school of thought that says the economy revolves around businesses. In his mind, the best way to stimulate the economy is to put money into the hands of businesses, who will then be able to add more workers and so on, which ultimately will lead to improvement in the economy.

John McCainOne thing I haven’t talked about yet is the Iraq war. Obama, of course, wants to start drawing troops out of Iraq, potentially saving us a lot of money (money he wants to put back into our economy). On the other hand, McCain plans to keep troops there for a long time, continuing to add to our government spending on the war (much of this spending is not directly aiding America's economy). That being said, Obama’s overall plans for government spending far exceed McCain's. For the most part I tend to agree more with McCain’s policies than Obama’s, but I do side with Obama in relation to the Iraq war. While I don’t agree with pulling out altogether at this point (because it would hang those Iraqis who trusted us with their lives out to dry), I do think we need to figure out a better plan. The plan to occupy Iraq indefinitely is not a good plan. We never should have gone there in the first place, in my mind. It has cost us billions of dollars and many American lives, but that is another post for another day.

The bottom line is these two candidates differ greatly in their policies: One thinks the government can get us out of this mess, and the other is going to rely on business and the markets to turn things around. Which one is correct? We will have to wait and see. Either way, though, the new president is going to have their hands full, and I seriously doubt either one is going to be able to come up with the magic elixir that rights this thing over night. Turning this ship around is going to take some time and diligence.

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