By Vidya Pradhan
Senator McCain’s pick of Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate on Friday did exactly what it was supposed to do – take the attention away from the high of the Democratic convention and create a media buzz that still has the wires humming on Sunday.
Frank Rich opines in today’s New York Times, “The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there’s a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she’s a woman.”
Only time will show if that belief holds water, but there is no doubt that Senator Clinton’s candidacy empowered millions of women voters and made their voices heard. Women, who have always been more reliable voters (they make up 54 percent of the population, 55 percent of registered voters and 60 percent of the electorate), are only now waking up to the power they have as a voting bloc.
Will they exercise their power to put one of their gender in the White House next year? Or will they take a closer look at each of the candidates’ voting records and position on women’s issues? We lay them out – Continue reading →
The state of the US economy is always a politically charged issue but never more than this year as the dreaded d(epression) and r(ecession) words are freely used by both economists and talking heads on TV. This is what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had to say in his February 17th state of the economy speech –
“…the outlook for the economy has worsened in recent months, and the downside risks to growth have increased. …The softer labor market, together with factors including higher energy prices, lower equity prices, and declining home values, seem likely to weigh on consumer spending in the near term."
No surprise then, that the presidential candidates have made restoring economic luster a significant plank of their stump speeches. Even John McCain, who once said( in an unguarded moment that he probably now regrets) “The issue of economics is something that I've really never understood as well as I should” is talking the talk now on balancing the budget and bringing the burgeoning trade deficit under control.
To make the two candidates positions on improving the state of the US economy a little less opaque, we have decided to separately discuss three aspects of this issue – taxation, job growth & economic relief and balancing the budget. Today’s article covers the candidates’ tax policies. In an environment where the federal budget deficit is huge and Social Security payments are expected to increase substantially, taxation as a revenue source becomes crucial. Nearly all of the tax cuts established since 2001 are set to expire by 2010. Continue reading →
Note to the curious – Barack Obama has the perfect politician’s handshake – soft, warm and dry. This broke blogger found out for herself thanks to a friend who couldn’t make it to the South Asian and Pacific Islander fundraiser at the Fairmont on Sunday( thanks, Madie!)
Leaving the kids with a babysitter, I set off with some trepidation towards San Francisco. I just hate those steep streets and sure enough on Pine I was gripping the steering wheel really hard and praying that I wouldn't roll backwards into the Bay before I met Obama.
At 3 p.m. there were already a bunch of Obama supporters outside, cordoned off across the street by the police. They carried mostly Obama '08 posters, though there were some on impeachment and some home made ones (O yes, O yes, O yes, O bama). Continue reading →
By Vidya Pradhan
Health care has always been the domain of the Democrats, in particular, Senator Hillary Clinton, who got herself in political hot water after her abortive attempts at health care reform during the Clinton presidency. Democrats have always attempted to craft a health care plan that makes it possible for every individual to be covered by offering access to a variety of plans. By contrast, Republicans build their health care plans based on individual choice and personal responsibility. GOP conservatives have traditionally opposed legislation expanding government funded health care on the principle of smaller government. In 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law by President Johnson, it was a bitter loss to the Republican fight against a nationalized health care system.
Today there is general consensus that the American health care system is in serious need for reform – on one hand, 47 million Americans do not have any medical insurance; on the other, crippling health care costs are making American industry uncompetitive. The path to reform is where the candidates diverge sharply. While Senator Obama talks about expanding coverage to include most Americans by way of a national health plan, Senator McCain emphasizes Health Savings Accounts, accounts to which families and individuals contribute to save towards medical expenses. The idea is that the burden should be lifted from employers and transferred to the individual, who would take control of his or her own health plan.
UPDATE: An article from the NYT about the McCain Health Care Plan.
UPDATE II: The conservative Wall Street Journal (!) comes out with an article entitled "Why Obama's Health Care Plan is better" An excerpt –
Sen. Obama's proposal will modernize our current system of employer- and government-provided health care, keeping what works well, and making the investments now that will lead to a more efficient medical system.
The McCain plan is a big tax increase on employers and workers. With the economy in recession, that's the last thing America's businesses need.
…Mr. McCain does nothing to bend the curve of rising health-care costs downward. He does not fund investments in learning, rewarding and preventing. Eliminating state coverage requirements will slash preventive service availability.
Here is a chart from the Urban/BrookingsTax Policy Center that breaks down the impact each candidates' plans would have on the uninsured.( H/T to Yglesias at Think Progress)
Continue reading →
By Vidya Pradhan
Despite the usual campaign rhetoric on immigration reform, both candidates this year are in favor of bringing in skilled workers to remedy the shortage in the US. Here are Barack Obama and John McCain on immigration. Continue reading →
By Vidya Pradhan
Her grandmother is Indian; grandfather Jamaican. Her father is Italian/Caucasian. No prizes for guessing who she’s supporting in this year’s Presidential elections in the US.
23-year old Meena Harris is part of Generation Obama, a media and technology-savvy group of young people who are changing the dynamics of politics and political campaigning in this country. Continue reading →
By Vidya Pradhan
It has long been a political cliché that Democrats are stronger when talking about the economy and Republicans own the foreign policy arena. This year, the Democratic candidate, bolstered by his prescient opposition to the war in Iraq, is taking on the Republicans on their home turf saying famously, “If George Bush and John McCain want a debate about protecting the United States of America, that’s a debate I’m happy to have, anytime, any place, and that is a debate that I will win, because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for,” As I write this piece, Senator Obama is in the Middle East, seeking to shore up his credentials against an opponent who is a veteran of the Vietnam War.
With astonishing serendipity, recent events on the ground, notably Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s support, are bearing out Senator Obama’s longstanding policy position, namely that a withdrawal in Iraq is necessary if terrorism is to be combated in Afghanistan. A poll conducted on July 22nd showed that 60% of Americans agree about a timetable for withdrawal.
Here are the two candidates on foreign policy and Iraq. Continue reading →
Now that the Presidential nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties have more or less been determined, we think it would be useful to compare and contrast the two candidates on their positions and voting records on various issues. Before we begin, though, here is a video for those who are wont to take this election season more seriously than it deserves( courtesy JibJab)
Here are the two candidates on energy and the environment.
Update( Aug. 15, 2008):Senator Obama, recognizing the importance of offshore drilling to the American electorate, has signaled his support for a bi-partisan energy initiative that includes a limited amount of offshore drilling. The initiative is brought by the group calling itself the "Gang of 10" and contains a fast-track approach to reducing American dependency on foreign oil. Sneator McCain has not yet backed this plan.
Update 2( August 24, 2008): Here is an excellent article that outlines McCain's voting record on key aspects of clean energy.
As Senator Obama's alternative energy policies( and consequent job generation possibilities) gain traction, we've been seeing a gradual shift by the McCain campaign towards the same. To the casual observer, it may seem that there is not much difference in the two candidates' policies ( even the pictures of windmills on their ads are the same!) so it is worth looking at their voting records on the environment and seeing if they walk the walk. It must be emphasized that the League of Conservation Voters give the two candidates very different scores on their voting performance.
Continue reading →
By Vidya Pradhan
What is the sound of ballot papers rustling if no one’s around at the polls? Caught up in the rapidly evolving drama of the Democratic primaries, even the most die-hard political junkies in California apparently were oblivious to the fact that an election was conducted this Tuesday. It so happened that I was at the polls as a “Judge”, electing to spend the day at my polling place observing democracy in action. Continue reading →