18 sep. 2008

Comparing Bush and McCain

Democrats say that electing John McCain would bring the equivalent of a third Bush term, while Republicans say these charges are just political spin. Here is where Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush stand on key issues.
Abortion and Judges
Both men 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. Mr. McCain says Roe v. Wade “should be overturned,” altering his 1999 stand, and says he would appoint Supreme Court justices who “strictly interpret the Constitution.” He voted for both of Mr. Bush’s picks to the court. Mr. Bush has not publicly called for repealing Roe.
Mr. McCain generally supports No Child Left Behind, Mr. 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, Mr. McCain has ruled out direct talks with Iran and Syria for now. Mr. McCain supported Mr. Bush when he likened those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” to appeasers of the Nazis, a remark widely interpreted as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama.
Mr. McCain supported a 2007 bill, strongly backed by Mr. 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. “Only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law,” he said in February.
Mr. McCain supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but strongly criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the war in the first four years. He was a vocal advocate of the troop increase strategy, eventually adopted by the president, and has supported Mr. Bush in resisting calls for a withdrawal timetable. Last month, Mr. McCain said he believed the war could be won by 2013; but this month he said a timetable was “not too important,” in comparison with the level of casualties in Iraq.
Guantánamo Detainees
Mr. 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, Kan.
Health Care
Mr. McCain’s proposal to eliminate tax breaks that encourage employers to provide health insurance for their workers is very similar to one that Mr. 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 men opposed a 2007 bill to expand a children’s health insurance program for lower- and middle-income families.
Both support having wealthier Medicare recipients pay higher premiums for prescription drug coverage. In 2003, Mr. McCain voted against the bill that added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.
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.” Mr. Bush did not find enough support in Congress for his proposal to allow workers to divert a portion of Social Security payroll taxes into personal investment accounts in exchange for reduced guaranteed benefits.
Same-Sex Marriage
Mr. Bush supported a constitutional amendment to ban such marriages, but Mr. 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.
Civil Unions
Both would leave the matter to the states. Mr. Bush said in 2004 that he would not “deny people rights to a civil union” if a state chose to legalize it. Mr. McCain supported a 2005 initiative in his own state, Arizona, that would have blocked civil unions and domestic partnerships. Last month he said that “people should be able to enter into legal agreements” for things like insurance and power of attorney.
Mr. McCain would make permanent the large Bush tax cuts he opposed in 2001 and 2003. He has also proposed four new tax cuts of his own: a reduction in the corporate tax rate, immediate tax breaks for corporate investment, a repeal of the alternative minimum tax and doubling the value of exemptions for dependents to $7,000 from $3,500.
Both are proponents of free trade and support opening up markets with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. They also support education programs to help displaced workers.
Wiretapping and Executive Power
Mr. Holtz-Eakin, a top adviser to Mr. McCain, said last week that Mr. McCain believes that the Constitution gave Mr. Bush the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail without warrants, despite a federal statute that required court oversight. When Mr. McCain was asked about the same issue in January, he had said: “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.
Climate Change
Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain supported first a cap-and-trade program that would set a national ceiling on carbon emissions. Although critical of the Bush administration’s lack of initiatives on the climate, Mr. McCain has said that “America did the right thing by not joining the Kyoto Treaty” and that any such global accord should include China and India, an argument used by Mr. Bush. Ms. Palin says that climate change is not man-made, so, why should one take measures against it?
Energy and Oil
The early Mr. 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. That he has changed radically. New clean and sustainable energy generating technology is not important he says, because it is too marginally or of no influence to energy production.
The early Mr. McCain opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, once a top goal for Mr. Bush. On Monday, Mr. McCain said the federal ban on offshore drilling should be lifted, allowing states to pursue energy exploration off their coasts. The Bush administration has proposed drilling off the coasts in several states. He picks a well-vetted VP who makes drilling in the ANWF a top-priority.
Tax Breaks
Mr. Bush opposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Mr. McCain has voted against similar taxes in the past, but at a certain moment he said he was “angry at the oil companies not only because of the obscene profits they’ve made but at their failure to invest in alternate energy.” Ms. Palin increased taxes on oil and gas-industries in Alaska and made profit for the state by high energy-prices.
Renewable Energy
Both support development of more nuclear power. Mr. McCain urged the Bush administration to waive requirements for high ethanol production, blaming the alternative fuel for driving up food prices. He has made a 180 degrees turn around on ethanol and doesn’t mention higher food prices anymore. Ms. Palin falsely claiming that Alaska already provides 20% of the USA’s fuel consumption (in real 2.5%) added that full extension of drilling and building the appropriate infrastructure (pipelines) will make America energy-independent.
Federal Spending
Mr. McCain has sought to emphasize his differences with Mr. Bush by portraying himself as a stronger opponent of pork-barrel projects and other wasteful spending. He says he would not sign any earmarked projects into law and would cut financing for ineffective programs, including Amtrak. Mr. Bush has so far allowed earmarks in spending bills, but signed an executive order this year directing federal agencies to ignore earmarks that Congress did not vote on. Mr. McCain would also put a one-year freeze on discretionary spending, except veterans benefits and the military. Mr. Bush has had a similar freeze in place. Ms. Palin is the undisputed pork-barrel champion of the USA.
Interrogation Tactics
Mr. 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.” But the same law gives the president the last word in establishing specific permissible interrogation techniques. The Bush administration has not ruled out waterboarding, considered illegal by Mr. McCain, as impermissible. The point of McCain-Palin is that torture is no real torture if the prisoner survives, not mentioning that the prisoner frequently doesn’t survive in the end.
Arms Control
Mr. McCain, trying to distance himself from Mr. Bush, said he would pursue a new arms control accord with Russia. His proposal to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and his calls for nuclear talks with China set him apart from the president as well. In the past, Mr. McCain urged Mr. Bush to return to his demand for a complete and irreversible disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear programs. The Bush administration began relying on diplomacy to persuade North Korea to begin dismantling its nuclear program. It’s a move towards Obama’s views but McCain persists in the old Bush-policy of no talks with the “evils”. Calling Europe America’s arch fiend and along Palin’s view seeking war with Russia about Georgia the places in politics are adrift as they were for seven long Bush-years.