Obama, McCain trade charges on economy

June 11th, 2008 - 10:13 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 11 (IANS) A war of words has started between rival US presidential candidates with Barack Obama and John McCain trading charges on the economy which is emerging as the No. 1 election issue. If Democrat Obama has dubbed McCain’s economic plan as amounting “to a full-throated endorsement of (President)George Bush’s policies,” the Republican is attempting to paint Obama as a typical Democrat who wants to raise taxes and regulate government.

As president his goal will be “to get our economy running at full strength again,” McCain told a group of small-business owners here Tuesday, charging that Obama would institute the largest tax increase in more than 60 years.

Laying out the differences between his economic proposals and Obama’s plan, McCain said: “On tax policy, health-care reform, trade, government spending and a long list of other issues, we offer very different choices to the American people.”

“No matter which of us wins in November, there will be change in Washington. The question is, what kind of change?” he said suggesting the election offered “Americans a very distinct choice about what kind of change we will have.”

Kicking off his two-week campaign swing Monday, Obama blasted McCain’s economic plan as a “continuation of Bush economic policies: more tax cuts to the wealthy, more corporate tax breaks, more mountains of debt and little to no relief for families struggling with the rising costs of everything from health care to gas prices to a college education.”

McCain said Tuesday that “under Obama’s tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise: seniors, parents, small-business owners.”

In response to McCain’s speech, Obama said his Republican rival’s prescription for the economy is “wrong for the country” and McCain’s characterisation of his plan is “just wrong.”

“Let me be clear. My tax reform plan would cut taxes for 95 percent of workers. … I’ve said that John McCain is running to serve out a third Bush term. But the truth is, when it comes to taxes, that’s not being fair to George Bush,” Obama said.

Obama said Monday that lawmakers should inject an additional $50 billion into the economy. “Such relief can’t wait until the next president takes office. … That’s why I’ve called for another round of fiscal stimulus, an immediate $50 billion to help those who’ve been hit hardest by this economic downturn,” Obama told a crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He said he supports the expansion and extension of unemployment benefits, as well as a second round of tax rebate checks.

The economy is likely to be the most important issue for voters in deciding whom to vote for, topping Iraq, health care, terrorism and immigration, according to a CNN poll released last week.

The two candidates offer different solutions for dealing with the economic slowdown. While McCain believes in a smaller government that should lower taxes, Obama thinks the government should play a more active role in levelling the field for lower income workers.

McCain thinks the government should boost the economy by having lower tax rates, which would in turn increase savings. He supports making permanent the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.

Obama puts more of a focus on the budget deficit. He would keep the Bush tax cuts in place for most Americans, but not for those who make roughly $250,000 a year or more. He would also get rid of income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 annually.

McCain thinks the best way to deal with the deficit is by scaling back government spending. He proposes a one-year freeze on discretionary spending to assess which programmes should stay and which should go.

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