Last spring, I presented a non-partisan look at both the Democratic and Republican candidates. Now with the field narrowed to two, I’m providing an updated look at their views about issues related to the economy, such as the current financial crisis, health care, taxes, and retirement. John McCain is first in the alphabet, so he’s up today. Check back tomorrow for Barack Obama’s positions.
Most of these are copied from the John McCain website. I relied on CNN’s election center to expand on certain issues where his website was unclear. Some statements are rephrased for length or clarity (or to cut the campaign rhetoric). I haven’t injected any personal commentary.
John McCain subscribes to the economic theory that low taxes boost employment and business spending. His plan includes the following proposals:
- Phase out the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
- Make the Bush income tax cuts permanent
- Reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%
- Allow first-year tax expensing of technological and farm equipment
- Establish an R&D tax credit
- Double the child deduction.
John McCain believes that increased competition will reduce health care costs and provide families with affordable, portable coverage. To achieve this, he will:
- Tax employer-provided health coverage as income
- Provide all individuals with a $2,500 refundable tax credit ($5,000 for families) to purchase health insurance on the open market
- Allow families to purchase coverage from any insurer in any state
- Promote preventative care.
John McCain believes that our current entitlement programs are in serious danger. His corrective proposals are to:
- Supplement the current Social Security system with personal accounts
- Slow benefits growth rather than raise taxes.
Financial Crisis and Bailout
Both candidates supported the bailout plan. Given our current economic crisis, both candidates have also released new plans to solve today’s issues. John McCain plans to shore up housing, relieve the student loan credit crunch, and ease gas and food prices with the following proposals:
- Increase US oil drilling and production and increase alternative energy production. His goal is to reduce dependence on foreign oil and keep energy spending in the US.
- Repeal tax on imported sugar-based ethanol
- Rollback corn ethanol mandates to reduce pressure on food prices
- Refinance mortgages for qualifying homeowners currently at risk of foreclosure
- Reduce the tax rate on the first $50,000 of retirement withdrawals for seniors over 59 1/2
- Increase stock loss tax deduction to $15,000
- Cut capital gains tax to 7.5% for two years
- Eliminate taxes on unemployment for those earning less than $100,000 a year
- Provide more state and federal lender-of-last-resort funds for college loans.
Budget and Deficit
John McCain believes that a balanced budget is the key to US economic success. He plans to:
- Balance the budget by 2013
- Eliminate pork-barrel spending
- Reform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
- Freeze discretionary non-defense, non-veteran spending for one year and use the savings for deficit reduction
- Consolidate or eliminate wasteful programs.
The John McCain website includes many other programs and proposals not directly related to the economy and personal finance. If you haven’t yet decided who to vote for, visit his website to learn more about the issues he considers important and his proposed solutions.