So far, voters in six states have had their say on the 2008 presidential candidates, but there are some big votes coming. Super Tuesday is just eleven days away, and that could crown the nominees on both sides.
No matter where you stand on the issues, it’s important to find the right candidate for you and vote accordingly. I won’t say whom I support; I will simply urge you to vote. To help you choose, I’ve compiled summaries of the candidates’ statements on economic issues. You may have other issues that are more important to you, but whoever becomes president will have an impact on several economic issues that affect each of us directly.
I’ll start with the Democratic presidential candidates today and cover the Republicans tomorrow. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. In order to be included on my list, they must still be in the race and be listed in the national polls at Real Clear Politics. In general, that means they’re polling above 2% nationally.
Most of these are copied from the candidate websites directly. In some cases, I had to search the internet to find the answers. Some statements are rephrased or reworded for length or clarity (or to cut the campaign rhetoric). I haven’t injected any personal commentary.
- Repeal Bush tax cuts for the top two brackets and restore 1990s tax rates for upper-income Americans
- Extend earned income tax credit, middle class tax relief, the child tax credit, and marriage penalty relief
- Reform the AMT
- Maintain the estate tax exemption at $7 million (2009 level).
- Guarantee healthcare for all Americans
- Provide all Americans with choice of maintaining current coverage or accessing same program available to members of Congress
- Reduce hidden taxes and fees that increase healthcare costs
- Offer incentives for employers to provide coverage
- Offer tax credit to help individuals pay for coverage
- Limit coverage costs to percentage of income
- Modernize the system and promote prevention to reduce costs.
- Introduce American Retirement accounts that will permit individuals to contribute up to $5,000 per year on a tax-deferred basis
- 401K plans offered by employers will still be available
- Provide matching refundable tax credit for the first $1,000 of savings by every married couple making up to $60,000. 50% match on the first $1000 for couples making between $60,000 and $100,000. Credit phased out after that
- Plans will be administered in the private sector
- Automatic savings through employers unless employees opt-out.
Economic Stimulus Package
- $30 Billion Emergency Housing Crisis Fund
- 90-day moratorium on subprime foreclosures and an automatic rate freeze on subprime mortgages of at least five years
- $25 billion in emergency energy assistance for families
- $5 billion in energy efficiency and alternative energy investments
- $10 billion to extend unemployment insurance.
- Institute “Save our Home” program for two years
- Temporarily increase Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s portfolio caps by 5%
- Help homeowners at risk replace adjustable-rate mortgages with fixed-rate mortgages
- Temporarily modify the Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) program to allow it to refinance mortgages (currently only for new mortgages)
- Increase the cap on the MRB program by 25%
- Temporarily increase federal loan limit. Index the limit to median regional prices and cap it at $650,000.
- Institute a new “Get Ahead” tax credit to match up to $500 a year in savings for families earning up to $75,000
- Tax credit funds could be used for retirement, college education, buying a home, investing in a small business or during a financial or medical emergency
- Institute new “Work Bonds” to offer additional targeted savings incentives for low-income families
- Credit will be refundable for low-income families and the size of the credit will be reduced for families with higher incomes
- Expand the Child Care Credit to pay up to 50 percent of child and dependent care expenses up to $5,000 and make it partially refundable
- Triple the Earned Income Tax Credit for single adults
- Cut the marriage penalty
- Raise capital gains tax rate to 28 percent for wealthiest Americans
- Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the highest-income households and keep the tax on very large estates (above $4 million for couples)
- Close unfair loopholes like the tax breaks for hedge funds and private equity fund managers and unlimited executive pensions.
- Require employers to either cover their employees or help finance their health insurance
- Make insurance affordable by creating new tax credits
- Expand Medicaid and SCHIP
- Reform insurance laws
- Create regional “Health Care Markets” to allow Americans to purchase an affordable, high-quality health plan, increase choices among insurance plans, and cut costs for businesses offering insurance
- Promote preventative care.
- Create Universal Retirement Accounts
- Require employers to offer a new universal retirement account to all workers without another pension
- Businesses will be encouraged to automatically enroll workers in a 401(k)-type portable retirement account, with automatic paycheck deductions and employer contributions.
Economic Stimulus Package
- $25 billion now to investing in clean energy infrastructure, increasing federal aid to states avoid cutting programs that help families through hard times, reforming unemployment insurance and tackling the housing crisis
- If necessary, $75 billion for additional state relief, additional spending on a new energy infrastructure, accelerating investments in schools, roads, and bridges and temporary tax cuts targeted to the low-income and middle-class families.
- Any freeze on interest rates must keep rates low for seven years
- Ensure right to individual assistance from lenders – such as converting to a fixed-rate mortgage, capitalizing delinquent payments, reducing the interest rate, or forgiving a portion of the loan
- Create a Home Rescue Fund to help families move into affordable mortgages
- Allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages
- Institute a central reporting system to keep track of lenders’ progress in modifying loans and to facilitate fraud and predatory lending investigations.
- Protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families
- Reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.
- Create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. Offset the payroll tax on the first $8,100 of their earnings
- Create a universal mortgage credit for all tax filers
- Earned Income Tax Credit up to $555 for full-time workers. An additional $1,110 for workers with children
- Eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year
- Make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable and allow low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
- Create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals purchase a private insurance plan
- Create rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible
- Ensure affordable coverage for all
- Require employers to offer coverage or provide meaningful assistance in purchasing private coverage
- Employers that do neither of the above will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small employers that meet certain revenue thresholds will be exempt
- Mandatory coverage for children
- Expand Medicaid and SCHIP
- Accommodate existing state plans.
- Automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan
- Employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account
- Employees may opt-out if they choose
- Match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of savings for families that earn less than $75,000. The savings match will be automatically deposited into designated personal accounts.
Economic Stimulus Package
- $250 rebate for 150 million low and middle income workers
- $250 rebate for seniors earning under $50,000 as a Social Security supplement
- Establish a $10 billion fund to help “responsible” families avoid foreclosure
- Establish $10 billion fund for states facing budget shortfalls
- Expand unemployment insurance
- Create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive support to innocent homeowners
- Assist individuals who must sell their home by providing offsets of selling costs and offer additional time to sell
- Waive certain federal, state and local income taxes that result from an individual selling their home to avoid foreclosure.