The no-spin zone
If these claims really were true, you'd be better off voting for me. I'm not a candidate, so there's nothing to throw mud at.
I realize going negative is nothing new in political campaigns. It's true that most people profess to be against it, but it's also true that negative advertising works.
That's because the issues, while important, lack entertainment value. The easiest way to spice things up is to explain why a plan is so dangerously bad.
Issues are framed in two ways: Either the candidate's proposal will lead to all sorts of terrible consequences, or the plan only is a cover for something more devious once the election is over.
I hope voters are getting tired of being pushed around. I know I am. I don't need a squawking head on TV telling me what's good or bad; I'd rather figure that out myself.
So, for those like me who lament the focus in these waning days of the 2008 presidential campaign, I've listed the five issues most important to me, and what each candidate says they're going to do about them.
I've taken the proposals from each candidate's Web site, compared them to a variety of news stories for context and stripped them of spin. (McCain for president, Obama for president, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ProCon.org and Factcheck.org)
Are these ideas good or bad? It's time for each of us to decide on our own. Which plans make sense to you?
After you decide, feel free to post a comment HERE or on the link at the bottom of this post.
The economy and taxes
Sen. John McCain proposes a plan that would double the personal exemption for dependents and eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. The government would purchase troubled mortgages directly from financial institutions and restructure those loans. His plan calls for cutting the capital-gains tax rate, and making the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 permanent.
Sen. Barack Obama proposes a plan that includes a new tax credit of $500 per person or $1,000 per working family. His plan would ban most home foreclosures for 90 days. He would repeal tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 for households earning more than $250,000.
Obama's plan would create a National Health Insurance Exchange pool to help Americans and businesses purchase private health insurance. The government also would create a plan for those who could not obtain private insurance. All large employers would be required to either provide health insurance or help pay for it. Americans could continue using their existing plans.
McCain's plan would provide $2,500 in refundable tax credits for low-income individuals, and $5,000 to low-income families who obtain their own health insurance. He would work with states to create a Guaranteed Access Plan, possibly establishing a nonprofit corporation that would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance.
McCain would expand domestic oil and natural-gas exploration, including an expansion of offshore oil drilling. He would commit $2 billion annually to advancing clean-coal technologies. He supports expanding nuclear power.
Obama's plan would invest $150 billion over the next 10 years to support private efforts to promote alternative energy sources. He supports imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies. He would consider expansion of offshore oil drilling.
Obama opposed invasion of Iraq from the beginning. He opposed the surge, and says the decision to invade Iraq diverted resources from the war in Afghanistan. He would withdraw one or two brigades, finishing within 16 months.
McCain voted in 2002 to authorize invasion, supported the surge and is against a timetable for withdrawal. He says more political progress in needed, and would promote the international community's help in getting the Iraqi economy back on its feet.
McCain would enhance our intelligence-gathering and analysis capabilities, and promote international cooperation to prevent terrorism abroad. He would improve preparedness and response for catastrophic events, and protect critical infrastructure.
Obama would bolster emergency preparedness by allocating money based on risk, and by preparing effective emergency-response plans. He would protect critical infrastructure by securing chemical plants and improving airline safety. Obama would revisit the Patriot Act to prevent abuses.