KANE: Last call for the Obama train

 

 

Jonas Kane

As the train prepares to exit the station, the only question left is where we’ll be standing when it departs. The 21st century will slowly begin to pass us by if we aren’t prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead and get on board.

Our economy has been in a freefall, and if we don’t pursue the right course, our role as a world leader will become a notion of the past. We face the rise of new superpowers and continued struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, vital reform needs to occur in health care, education, tax policy and a host of other domestic and foreign issues.

During the course of this infinitely long campaign, Barack Obama has proven that he has the ideas, the intellect and the levelheadedness to address these issues as president.

On the economy, both he and John McCain supported the recent financial bailout, but only Obama has proposed a coherent and broader plan for tackling the struggles faced by working Americans. His comments on “spreading the wealth” have been distorted gleefully by opponents, but in actuality, they make sense.

As the nonpartisan factcheck.org pointed out, Obama’s plan calls for ending tax breaks for individuals earning over $200,000 and for families earning over $250,000 (the latter of which accounts for only 2 percent of the population); it extends tax benefits to those making less money, which in turn allows for more money to circulate into the economy.

Obama’s proposal does make our tax system more progressive but not radically so. Marriner Eccles, former chairman of the Federal Reserve under FDR, once made the simple point that “mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption.”

The tax policies of the past eight years, which John McCain has championed, have increased the divide between the top earners and the rest of the country, leaving too many workers without the necessary means to contribute and get by and our economy without the wheels to keep rolling.

On foreign policy, Obama’s approach – seeking dialogue with our nation’s adversaries and being more judicious with our armed forces – has earned him praise from prominent Republicans such as Colin Powell.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind), with whom Obama passed a bill for tracking down loose nuclear weapons, said, “[Obama] correctly cautions against the implication that hostile nations must be dealt with almost exclusively through isolation or military force,” and added, “in some cases, refusing to talk can even be dangerous.”

From the start, Obama was against the war in Iraq, an undertaking that has cost the United States, in addition to the lives of soldiers and countless Iraqis, close to $1 trillion, which, as Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria wrote, “is enough money to rebuild every school, bridge and road in America, create universal health care and fund several Manhattan Projects in alternative energy.”

For all McCain’s talk of excess spending, he supports an indefinite commitment in Iraq, where he once said victory would be “easy.”

Alternative energy has also served as a central tenet of Obama’s campaign. He proposes to invest $150 billion toward private efforts for energy independence and has suggested a tax credit to make college more affordable for all Americans. An educated workforce is essential for assuming the green jobs produced from this endeavor.

McCain has pledged support for alternative fuels like nuclear power but has refused to support funding for AMTRAK and gave no support to recent bills extending tax credits for wind and solar industries. McCain rightfully earned a reputation for bucking his party on important issues like torture and climate change, but on too many of today’s most pressing concerns, he is woefully stuck in the past. His campaign failed to produce a reasonable message, instead turning to petty and nasty attacks on Obama, who has in turn responded with endless composure.

McCain clearly wants to do what’s best for America, but his lack of new ideas and the overall insubstantial nature of his campaign have not offered evidence that he will propel our country in the right direction.

This election is just too important for us to risk being stranded at the station. Obama offers Americans the best opportunity to keep pace in our evolving world.

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Jonas Kane is a junior English major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]