Saturday, September 27, 2008

Third Term?

Would the election of John McCain be a third Bush term or would he break away from the Bush Revolution? McCain is trying very hard to distance himself from the unpopular and failed policies of the Bush administration. When we look at the issues and the positions of the 2008 John McCain, we can see when it comes to the issues that really matter, a John McCain presidency, with few minor exceptions, would be the third Bush term.

Where they agree:

Taxes - McCain was one of only two Republicans who opposed Bush tax cuts in 2001. He stated on the floor of the Senate in 2001 “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief." McCain has since changed his position by voting to extend the tax cuts in 2006, and now says he will work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent if elected.

Abortion - Bush and McCain both oppose use of federal money for abortions, including aid to groups that help women obtain them. Both support the ban on Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 and parental notification for minors. McCain says Roe v. Wade “should be overturned,” and says he will appoint judges who would vote to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision. Despite being a member of the infamous “Gang of Fourteen” (the bipartisan group of centrist Senators in the 109th United States Congress who successfully negotiated a compromise in the spring of 2005 to avoid the deployment of the so-called nuclear option over an organized use of the filibuster by Senate Democrats,) he voted for both John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Iraq - McCain supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but has tried to have the best of both worlds by criticizing the Bush administration’s handling of the war. He was one of the first national political figures to support a troop “surge,” which was eventually adopted by Bush. McCain does not support a timetable for withdrawal, and has stated that the United States may have a military presence in Iraq for a hundred years.

Health Care - McCain’s proposal to eliminate tax breaks that encourage employers to provide health insurance for their workers is very similar to one that Bush pushed last year, to little effect. The Bush plan offered a $15,000 tax deduction for families buying their own insurance, while the McCain plan would give a refundable tax credit of $5,000 to families for insurance whether or not they pay taxes. Both opposed a 2007 bill to expand SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program.)

Education- McCain generally supports No Child Left Behind, Bush’s signature education policy. Calling it a “good beginning,” he has said, “there’s a lot of things that need to be fixed” about it. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a McCain adviser, has said “the law needs to start addressing the underlying cultural problems in our education system.”

Diplomacy With Iran and Syria - Like the president, McCain has ruled out direct talks with Iran and Syria for now. McCain supported Bush when he likened those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” to appeasers of the Nazis.

Immigration - McCain supported a 2007 bill, strongly backed by Bush, that called for establishing a guest-worker program and setting up a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He sponsored a similar bill in 2006, but this year he said he would not vote for his own proposal now.

Guantánamo Detainees - McCain was a key backer of the 2006 legislation that allowed detainees to be tried in military courts and abolished habeas corpus rights for detainees labeled “enemy combatants” by the administration. He would close the Guantánamo prison and move prisoners to a maximum-security military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Social Security - “I’m totally in favor of personal savings accounts,” he told The Wall Street Journal in March, “along the lines that President Bush proposed.”

Same-Sex Marriage - Bush supported a constitutional amendment to ban such marriages, but McCain voted against it, saying states should enact such bans. He said he would consider a constitutional ban if “a higher court says that my state or another state has to recognize” same-sex marriages.

Wiretapping and Executive Power - McCain supports the Bush administration’s authorization for National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail without warrants.

Where they disagree, a bit…

Climate Change - McCain claims he would be an environmentally friendly President. Although McCain supports a cap-and-trade program that would set a national ceiling on carbon emissions, he said “America did the right thing by not joining the Kyoto Treaty.”

Energy and Oil - McCain has called for a “great national campaign to put us on a course to energy independence,” adding that the next president must be willing to “break completely” with the energy policies of previous administrations. Mcain also, for the time being, opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, once a top goal for Bush. McCain, however, has recently changed his position and is now on board with Bush on lifting the federal ban on offshore drilling.

Federal Spending - McCain is trying to gain some political ground by attacking the pork-barrel projects and other wasteful spending which became a hallmark of the Republican Congress and the Bush administration.

Interrogation Tactics - McCain has battled the Bush administration on a number of bills to end torture by the U.S., but this year he voted against a bill to force the Central Intelligence Agency to abide by the rules set out in the Army field manual on interrogation. He said that a 2005 law he helped pass already prohibits the C.I.A. from “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.”

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