Though it has become something of a clich in recent weeks, the editorial staff of The Independent Collegian wishes to remind its readers that what might be the most important vote of our lives faces us between now and Nov. 4. Considering the dire straits this country finds itself in, we must elect to the office of president the most capable candidate available, and most of us at the IC believe that candidate is Barack Obama.
The problems facing America are numerous, but there exists one common denominator at the root of many of these issues:The current economic crisisthreatens our national security, ability to develop clean fuel sources, health care, social security and educational systems. A strong economy is also necessary for funding state universities like the University of Toledo and is what makes earning an undergraduate degreea worthwhile investment. Therefore, this editorial will reflect primarily on the strength of Obama in light of his proposed solutions to this crisis and his broader economic policies.
The biggest difference between Obama and McCain in this regard is taxes. Obama says he wants to increase taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year and use the money to fund at least some of his proposed programs. Conversely, McCain would keep the current tax cuts for those in the top two brackets promoted by President George W. Bush. McCain has repeatedly claimed the crisis caused by sub-prime mortgage lending makes this "no time to raise taxes" and has pledged to enact an across-the-board spending freeze and then balance the budget. He would do the latter by going through the federal budget to eliminate wasteful spending and ineffective programs.
Though it's been depicted as a simple clash of ideals, pitting Obama's socialist agenda with McCain's libertarian approach, the situation is not as clear cut. McCain sees his proposals as not only defending the rights of certain Americans, but as also offering a solution to the crisis. Whenever asked about it, the Arizona senator responds by condemning "pork-barrel spending" -- which only accounts for about $18 billion out of the $3 trillion budget (less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the budget).
It is not only unclear how McCain plans to balance the budget by clinging to the Bush tax cuts and by only targeting pork-barrel legislation but also how he plans to promote areas such as education and environmental reform.
Highlighting this disconnect between his policies and pledges is McCain's anecdote about Obama's request for a $3 million telescope for a Chicago planetarium. The Republican nominee has often ridiculed his opponent for the request yet recognizes the growing threat of science and math illiteracy among American youth. As is apparent at any academic institution, education and research technology is not cheap. Environmental reform -- if it is to be achieved to any significant extent in time to reverse climate change, will similarly require federal investment to get research off the ground.
This is no time in American history for laissez-faire, trickle-down economics, as advocated by the McCain campaign. How can we trust corporate interests in this country to fix the economy when it is they who ruined it in the first place by greedily giving out bad mortgages and loans? It is Republican-inspired deregulation championed by people like former Sen. Phil Gramm (McCain's economic advisor) that got us into this mess, and it is regulation that's going to get us out.
Recognizing this, Obama has supported increased taxing on those who can afford it and, for those who are struggling, much needed tax credits. Among the recipients of these credits are working families, small businesses, businesses that create new jobs and businesses tat increase renewable energy production. Most notably for UT and other colleges and universities, however, Obama plans on giving $4,000 tuition credits to every college student every year in exchange for some form of military or community service. Obama recognizes true economic health cannot and should not be measured primarily on Wall Street, but also on Main Street This is where job creation, strong education and a diminished carbon footprint, along with lowered energy costs, are significantly valued.
Though he has often been snubbed as inexperienced, Obama has shown the right judgment on this issue as he has on so many others (the trillion dollar misguided invasion and occupation of Iraq).
Indeed, it's the experienced 26-year Washington veteran who flailed around in the run-up to the stock market crash. While Obama showed calm rationality, McCain exacerbated the emergency in a series of gambles to appear presidential. After routinely insisting just weeks before the crash that "the fundamentals of the economy" were "strong," he abruptly "suspended" his campaign to go to Washington to help make a deal (during which time his campaign offices still operated), derailed the process by riling up House Republicans, voted for the bill but then a little while later urged Bush to veto it.
This erratic behavior shows an inability to lead, troubling for a potential commander in chief with a hawkish attitude toward countries like Russia and Iran.
This country needs a thoughtful president, one whose policies show thorough reflection on the grim reality that faces this country and thus are capable of producing a better future. Obama's economic policies, integral for environmental, healthcare and education reform, are capable of this. His sober foreign policy initiatives are similarly capable of returning America to its prestigious place in the international community through diplomacy. On every major issue, Obama has the sensible policies and leadership to take America into a new, more secure and prosperous era.