Read about how McCain and Obama plan to handle the big issues

Illustration by Chris Sharron

Credit: DKS Editors

From the beginnings of the campaign trail, the 2008 presidential election has shattered past histories and paved roads into the future of American politics. Now, the white flag is waving. The final flex of muscle is here. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are poised in a sprint for the finish line: the White House. Whoever wins the race will inherit the recent perils of American policy and politics. He will also preside over and represent the vision and future of the United States.



Sen. McCain plans to lower energy costs by exploring domestic resources for oil and natural gas, and he will reform electric and nuclear energy policy to build more power plants and create more jobs. McCain wants to keep taxes low and cut the corporate tax rate by 10 percent to keep jobs and money in America. He wants to institute a summer gas tax holiday that would suspend taxes on gas and diesel fuel from Memorial Day to Labor Day. He also wants to strengthen workplace flexibility and choice in respect to working from home, retirement plans and scheduling. McCain plans to reduce international trade barriers and empower Americans to compete globally in the job market.


Sen. Obama plans to provide tax relief for middle class Americans. He wants to create 5 million new “green” jobs. He plans to reward companies that employ American workers through rebates and tax incentives, support small businesses in the form of tax relief and create a network of public-private business incubators that will allow entrepreneurs to start companies with more ease. He will invest in research sciences to keep America at the forefront of global innovation. Obama also wants to establish a credit card bill of rights to protect consumers.



Sen. McCain’s plans to offer tax credits to people so they can purchase health savings accounts. The tax credits will total $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help them buy health insurance. McCain also wants to drive down costs of health care in the private area by increasing competition between common health care providers.


Sen. Obama’s plans to require all employers to either provide health care benefits to employees or contribute to a public health care program. Obama plans to expand current public health care programs, and he wants to regulate health coverage for all children.



Sen. McCain plans to provide up to $4,000 to low-income students to aid them in preparing for any college admissions exams they may need to take in order to further their education. He supports vouchers. McCain also wants to set aside federal funds to create virtual schools.


Sen. Obama plans to give college students tax money toward college in return for their participation in community service. He also wants to find a way to make community college free for all students. Obama opposes vouchers and wants to use federal funds to get more children enrolled in preschools.



Sen. McCain says Iraq has to take control of its government before any American troops are pulled out.

McCain supported the surge of troops. He believes the United States should welcome a larger United Nations role in supporting Iraqi elections. He says Iraqis need to know the U.S. will not abandon them but will continue to press their politicians to show the necessary leadership to help develop their country.

McCain plans to call for international pressure on Iran.


Sen. Obama wants to end the war in Iraq. He plans to keep a residual force in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaida and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel.

Obama doesn’t want to build permanent bases in Iraq, but he plans to continue efforts to train and support Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

The phased withdrawal will encourage Iraqis to take the lead in securing their own country and making political compromises.

Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.



Sen. McCain plans to provide tax incentives to drivers of cars that don’t emit carbon dioxide. He also plans to push developing economies, such as China and India, toward cleaner energy regulations. McCain supports alternative sources of energy, including nuclear.


Sen. Obama wants to introduce a low-carbon fuel standard and export climate-friendly technology to developing nations. He supports more sustainable sources of energy.



Sen. McCain wants to make sure America has “the quality intelligence necessary to uncover plots before they take root.” He plans to strengthen the response to terrorist attacks. McCain strongly supports the development and deployment of theater and national missile defenses, saying effective missile defense is essential. He also wants to increase the size of the military. Like Obama, McCain would like to better prepare and modernize the military.


Sen. Obama wants to focus on defeating worldwide terrorism by targeting al-Qaida, better preparing the military to meet 21st century threats and investing in the American intelligence apparatus, thus increasing its capacity to collect, analyze and share information. Obama also plans to work to prevent nuclear terrorism, strengthen U.S. information networks and prepare effective emergency response plans for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.