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« Reason

Policy not personality

By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)


Published October 6, 2008

As the campaign turns into the home stretch, it's useful to look past the personalities to the policies which should decide an election but are often overlooked in favor of whom voters would like to have a beer with. I found this summary from the Daily Telegraph very fair and robust, so I'll quote it in full and without shame:

IRAQ

Obama: Said he was against the war in 2002 and has vowed to end the conflict and begin to withdraw the troops immediately. He is opposed to establishing permanent bases in Iraq, but says he would be prepared to send troops back in in case of a catastrophe or genocide.

McCain: Is a fervent supporter of the US surge launched in 2007. He has vowed "no surrender" and has said he is convinced that Washington is winning the war against the insurgency. He has come under fire from Democrats for suggesting that US troops could be left in Iraq for 100 years, modelled on the US involvement in Germany and South Korea.

IRAN

Obama: Is in favor of launching a dialogue with Iran, who he says presents a serious threat to the Middle East region and the United States. He has said he would be prepared to hold talks without pre-conditions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But more recently he indicated talks would begin at a lower level first. He is in favor of using international sanctions to push Iran to be more transparent over its suspect nuclear program.

McCain: Says "there is only one things worse than military action and that is a nuclear-armed Iran." He is against any presidential level talks which he believes would only lend legitimacy to the regime's hardliners. He would like to tighten sanctions, mostly economic, outside the UN sphere if necessary.

MIDDLE EAST AND ISRAEL

Obama: The US commitment to Israel is "non negotiable." He envisages isolating Hamas and Hezbollah, as long as the Islamic militant groups refuse to renounce terrorism or recognize the right of Israel to exist. He has criticized Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories as unhelpful to the peace process, and is in favor of policies which can boost the influence of moderate Palestinians.

McCain: Supports US military aid to Israel and says he is Hamas' "worst enemy." He has repeatedly said Hamas would welcome an Obama victory. He encourages talks between Israel and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and has called for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria to be politically isolated. He believes the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 was justified.

ECONOMY

Obama: Promises to cut taxes for working classes and low-income homes earning less than 75,000 dollars a year, while raising taxes for those homes with an average income of more than 250,000 dollars. On the housing crisis, he proposes setting up a fund to help stave off foreclosures and federal help to gain access to loans.

McCain: Pledges to maintain the tax cuts put in place under President George W. Bush. Firmly against public deficits, he has vowed to fight "porkbarreling" or congressional earmarks and has proposed a freeze for a year on non-military federal spending. On the housing crisis, he has suggested state guarantees for mortgages and for student loans.

HEALTH

Obama: Wants all Americans to be covered by a universal health care plan. His scheme, based on incentives and cost cuts, would be voluntary but oblige parents to insure their children.

McCain: Believes health care should be made more accessible. (Some 45 million Americans lack coverage.) He proposes greater oversight of insurance and pharmaceutical companies to prevent them from profiting unreasonably at the expense of consumers.

IMMIGRATION

Obama: Supports immigration reform which boosts border controls while legalizing under certain conditions the 12 million illegal immigrants.

McCain: Was a key mover in 2006 legislation to try to regularize the situation of illegal immigrants, but insists on the need to secure the borders before any other reforms can be carried out.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Obama: Has attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico and says he would renegotiate it.

McCain: Supports NAFTA and sees free trade as an important tool in US foreign policy, notably in the Middle East. Unlike Obama, he supports a free trade accord with Colombia.IRAQ

Obama: Said he was against the war in 2002 and has vowed to end the conflict and begin to withdraw the troops immediately. He is opposed to establishing permanent bases in Iraq, but says he would be prepared to send troops back in in case of a catastrophe or genocide.

McCain: Is a fervent supporter of the US surge launched in 2007. He has vowed "no surrender" and has said he is convinced that Washington is winning the war against the insurgency. He has come under fire from Democrats for suggesting that US troops could be left in Iraq for 100 years, modelled on the US involvement in Germany and South Korea. 

Some of these are personal choices, while many of them are party inheritances. How many of you wish there were a stronger third-party choice at the Presidential level? Or do you think strong third-party involvement would just lead to legislative grid-lock, as some argue is the case in European parliaments that lack grand coalitions?

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Thanks to those who have sent in comments. Have a topic suggestion? Or just want to give your feedback? E-mail me at reason-at-tylersclark.com  


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