Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sep. 17: Where They Stand: Economy

By Sylvia Gurinsky

This week is the first of my pre-election summaries on where candidates stand on certain relevant issues. I will get the bulk of my information from Project Vote Smart (, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks the records of elected officials and candidates. I will also get information from the candidates' Web sites, and donation information from, by the Center For Responsive Politics, also nonpartisan and nonprofit. This week, the focus will be on economic issues.

Sen. John McCain

Note: McCain was on the board of Project Vote Smart, but lost his board seat earlier this year after he did not complete the organization's Political Courage Test.

-Foreclosures: McCain did not vote on a housing foreclosure assistance bill in June.
Here's what his Web site says:

"No taxpayer money should bail out real estate speculators or financial market participants who failed to perform due diligence in assessing credit risks. Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners and any government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk.
Any policy of financial assistance should be accompanied by reforms that promote greater transparency and accountability to ensure we never face this problem again."

-Taxes: McCain did not vote on a June amendment concerning tax incentives for alternative energy program, nor did he vote on the farm bill. In 2005, he voted No to reinstate the capital gains tax. He also voted no in 2005 to repeal the tax subsidy for certain companies engaged in outsourcing to other countries. He did not vote earlier this year on farm subsidies. On his site, he supports cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, and a first-year deduction on equipment and technology investments. He proposes reducing the estate tax rate to 15 percent and permitting a $10 million exemption.

-Consumer safety: McCain did not vote on a Consumer Product Safety Commission Bill in March, April or July of this year.

Bankruptcies: In 2005, McCain voted Yes to approve a means test for individuals wishing to file for bankruptcy.

Trade: In 2005, McCain voted yes on the Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement.

-General economy: McCain voted Yes on the economic stimulus bill in February. He did not vote on 2004 legislation to change the tax code to make certain businesses more competitive. In 2005, he voted Yes on a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $5.70 six months after enactment and $6.25 eighteen months after enactment . Earlier this year, he did not vote on the Equal Pay Bill.
On his Web site, McCain pledges to balance the budget by the end of his first term. He proposes a one-year freeze on non-military related discretionary spending.
Also from his site:
"John McCain will overhaul unemployment insurance and make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost a job. The unemployment insurance system created in the 1950s needs to be modernized to meet the goals of helping displaced workers make ends meet between jobs and moving people quickly on to the next opportunity. John McCain will reform the half-dozen training programs to approaches that can be used to meet the bills, pay for training, and get back to work. "-

-Contributors: lists the top contributors to McCain, including Lehman Brothers, which has filed for bankruptcy:

-McCain's stands on economic issues can be found at:

The site details his support of the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act and a gas tax holiday.

Sen. Barack Obama

Note: Obama did not provide any responses to Project Vote Smart's Political Courage Test.

Business taxes and subsidies: Obama voted Yes on an amendment requiring that those receiving farm subsidies must be actively involved in farming.

-Foreclosures: Obama did not vote on the June foreclosure bill. His Web site proposes a Universal Mortgage Credit to 10 million homeowners, more accountability in the subprime mortgage industry, accurate loan disclosure and closing bankruptcy loopholes for mortgage companies.

-Taxes: Obama did not vote on the farm bill or the alternative energy tax incentives bills earlier this year. In 2005, he voted yes on the Earned Income Tax Credit Amendment and the reinstatement of the capital gains tax. On the Web site, Obama supports a $500 per person, $1,000 per working family tax credit. He proposes eliminating income taxes altogether for all seniors making less than $50,000 a year.

-Consumer safety: Obama did not vote on this year's consumer safety bills.

-Bankruptcy: In 2005, Obama voted no on the means test for personal bankruptcies.

-Trade: In 2005, Obama voted No on the Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement. On his Web site, he supports fair trade policies, amending the North American Free Trade Agreement, improving retraining, ending tax breaks for companies that outsource and the Patriot Employer Act to provide tax credits to businesses that keep workers in the U.S.

-General Economy: In April, Obama voted yes on the Equal Pay Bill. He did not vote on this year's economic stimulus package. In 2006, he voted yes on an amendment to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 over a two-year period.

-Contributors: Here are Obama's top 10, and there are those ill-fated Lehman Brothers again:

-Obama's stands on economic issues can be found at:

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