Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election issues 2008 - part 3

I'll get right into it. Parts one and two can be read here and here.

The Wall Street bailout (3)
If you're unfamiliar with what the bailout is, I wrote about it here and further expounded here. This issue is rated a bit higher than I normally would simply for the reason that it stands for everything wrong with our system. We entrust the government to guard us from disasters like this, and regulate finance (this is a constitutional duty of Congress). Not only do they give us radical friedmanist policies (which, last week, Alan Greenspan said were based on models of the world that don't work) they turn a blind eye to a coming crisis. Fed chairman Ben Bernake said he could have seen it coming, but even if he did he would probably have done nothing differently.

But it also shows that Congress does not represent the People. Opposition to the bailout was hundreds-to-one. They didn't listen to the outcry from the People, who come from all walks of life and differing political backgrounds. (Even the Socialist Party presidential candidate opposed the bailout.) But Congress went against the wishes of the people to approve this bailout, which have helped give the failed CEOs Christmas bonuses.

Former Representative Cynthia McKinney opposed the bailout and even put forth a 14-point proposal to fix the problem. I don't give bonus points, but this is better than simply opposing it, she had a plan to fix the problem. +3

Former Ambassador to the UN Alan Keyes opposed the bailout, calling it "socialism". +3

Ralph Nader opposed the bailout, clearly in line with his anti-corporation views. +3

Senator Barack Obama supported and approved the bailout in the US Senate. -3

Former Congressman Bob Barr opposed the bailout, and offered several ideas to solve the problem. +3

Senator John McCain supported and approved the bailout in the US Senate (after the outrageous stunt of "suspending my campaign." -3

Tax policy (2)
Tax policy is important, but the President's only role is in suggesting what he would like to see in bills. S/he can use veto power to make sure the bills include certain things, but doesn't get into the details. Crafting tax policy is a campaign thing. I think we have a serious problem in this country: we cannot continue running running a deficit every year. Our national debt is over $10-trillion now. Lowering taxes across the board won't help. We need a plan that will raise tax revenue while growing the economy.

I haven't seen the details of Former Representative Cynthia McKinney's proposal, but she would keep the taxes the same for the upper-middle class ($112-$227,000), lower taxes beneath that and raising taxes above that. This is a progressive tax system. don't know if we ca both cut taxes on the working-class and raise the minimum wage, we'll have to pick one or the other. +2

Former Ambassador to the UN Alan Keyes supports the FairTax proposal. This is essentially a 30% tax on the poor and the rate goes down the more you make. It adds burden to the poor as they spend 100% of their income, where as your income rises you spend a lower portion of that wealth. Add local and state taxes and the burden rises to almost 40%! And the wealthy could avoid all taxes by shopping duty free. (Without saying anything on the impact of tourist dollars spent charging a 30% premium.) -2

Ralph Nader is ambiguous on his tax plan, but seems to want to tax corporations for everything. +0

Senator Barack Obama is unique among major party candidates because he actually promises a tax increase! That's not really the truth, but that's how his opposition has phrased it and he hasn't challenged that. He wants to reinstate the tax level on the rich (over $250,000) we had prior to the Bush tax cuts. He also wants to reduce taxes on the lower-middle class and down. This is similar to what was described under McKinney. +2

Former Congressman Bob Barr wants to eliminate the income tax and instate a consumption tax (like the FairTax plan). I already stated how this won't work under Keyes. -2

Senator John McCain wants to extend the Bush tax cuts and make them permanent. This is funny because he used to be opposed to these tax cuts. The Republicans have surely done a good job convincing poor folk to feel sorry for the wealthy. This opposition to "spreading the wealth" is ridiculous. Do poor people really want to consolidate wealth to a small group of people? With McCain's medical plan costing almost twice as much as Obama's, I'm not sure how McCain plans on paying for anything. -2

Trade (4)
Trade is something the President has a great deal of control over. His/her job is to work treaties with other countries. S/he does rely on Congress to work on the domestic portion of these agreements, but the President negotiates with the other countries to work out the details.

I am a supporter of fair trade. It is important that we protect human dignity in our trade relations. The US and UK have spent decades with isolationist policies and only entered the global market when it was clear we would dominate the markets. This causes serious concerns related to national security because it causes resentment by developing nations.

I also care deeply for the laborers in these other nations. We must make sure that human dignity is upheld in nations we trade with.

We must also reduce our subsidies in the West so developing countries can compete. Our Western nations subsidize meat, corn, grain and other commodities and then export it to other nations causing an unbalanced system where the local farmers can't compete in their own local market, let alone the world. In Europe each cow gets more government money each day than more than half the world's population has to live on. We must transform our global markets.

While none of the candidates have addressed this issue with as much depth as I have just done, we do have an overview.

Former Representative Cynthia McKinney is against NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, and US-Peru FTA. She wants to keep our labor standards high and help raise them abroad. +4

Former Ambassador to the UN Alan Keyes helped draft NAFTA. He's now against multilateral negotiations, but wouldn't be pinned down to say he would repeal NAFTA. He's 100% against the WTO saying it gives up our sovereignty. He claims to support "fair trade" but doesn't define the term, and says he is no longer a "knee jerk" supporter of free trade. I like what he has to say, but he's not specific on the solutions. +0

Ralph Nader opposed to NAFTA and the WTO. He's a leader on labor rights saying we're allowing dictators in foreign countries to drive down labor standards here. +4

Senator Barack Obama opposed CAFTA and voted against it. He wants to reform NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards. He phrases it saying it "levels the playing field." +4

Former Congressman Bob Barr is misled to think free trade produces peace and not resentment. When we have soldiers overseas protecting our multi-national corporation interests from riots and terrorist attacks, you know free trade has failed that region. -4

Senator John McCain supports NAFTA, GATT an US membership in the WTO. He opposes including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. -4

I'm coming to the wire here. I'll get to more issues later today and tomorrow. As they stand now:

McKinney: 19
Keyes: 6
Nader: 13
Obama: 13
Barr: 11
McCain: -14

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