With election day fast approaching,
it's time to take
another look at the considerable differences between Barack Obama and John
McCain on issues that are vital to working Americans -- and why it's so
important that working people vote for Obama on November fourth.
Obama, for example, proposes a tax credit of $500 per
worker or $1000 per working family to help stimulate the seriously depressed
economy. The tax credits would go to about 95 percent of all American families.
would roll back the Bush tax cuts that went to people earning more than
$250,000 a year. But McCain would keep Bush's tax cuts
in place and go further by cutting the corporate tax rate by 10 percent. Among those getting tax breaks under
McCain's plan would be hugely wealthy oil companies and many companies that
ship jobs overseas in order to increase their large profits even more at the
expense of the growing number of jobless American workers.
Obama proposes a complete overhaul of the health care
system that would be designed to provide affordable care to everyone. Among
other reforms, he'd require health insurance companies to provide coverage
regardless of a person's age, type of illness or prior condition.
McCain would give people a tax credit that they could
spend to buy health insurance on their own, but at the same time require those
getting employer-financed insurance coverage to pay a tax on those health care
benefits. It seems clear that McCain's peculiar plan would make our terribly
inadequate health care system even worse.
Obama wants to strengthen the badly weakened Social
Security system by increasing the payroll taxes on people earning more than
$250,000 a year. McCain agrees with George Bush that the system should be
privatized, a move that would weaken the Social Security system even more.
Obama would create jobs through a federal public works
project much like the WPA projects of the 1930s. It would put jobless Americans
to work rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, sewer systems and other
facilities. McCain says he'd
create jobs for the jobless through his proposed lowering of corporate income
taxes, a very unlikely prospect.
Obama wants trade agreements that avoid unfair
competition for American workers and unfair exploitation of foreign workers by
requiring that the foreign workers covered by the agreements have the same
basic rights as are guaranteed to U.S. workers, including decent pay and working conditions, and
that their employers follow sound environmental practices.
McCain wants no such restrictions -- or any restrictions
at all. He's for what he calls "free" trade. Free, that is,
for foreign parties to
the agreements to treat their workers as badly as they want so as to keep their prices lower than American
manufacturers and prompt U.S. employers to shift work to the lower wage
countries, thus adding to the
decline of jobs available to U.S. workers.
McCain's reactionary stand on trade is typical of his
stands on labor issues generally. Should
he make it to the White House, you can be sure his policies would be at
least as anti-labor as those of George Bush, one of the most anti-labor
presidents in history.
Obama's position on labor is the opposite of Bush, and
certainly the opposite of John McCain.
Not surprisingly, McCain opposes, and Obama strongly supports, organized
labor's No. 1 priority these days - the proposed Employee Free Choice Act
that's pending in Congress. It would grant workers the firm union rights they
have long needed.
Employers are able to openly violate the current labor
laws by firing or otherwise disciplining those who support or attempt to
organize unions. Penalties, if any, are slight. Workers, in any case, fear
complaining about violations because to do so is to risk employer retaliation.
The Free Choice Act calls for stiffer fines, swiftly
imposed, new penalties on employers who violate workers' rights and extension
of those rights to all workers. The act's most important provision would
automatically grant union recognition on the showing of union membership cards by
a majority of an employer's workers rather than holding an election, as now is
done. The law was like that originally, with no lengthy election campaigns and
thus much less opportunity for employers to intimidate workers.
Obama promises to continue his strong support for the
Employee Free Choice Act if he's
elected and to otherwise "strengthen the ability of workers to organize
Obama, for instance, would work to prohibit employers
from permanently replacing strikers and work to raise the minimum wage and
index it to inflation so it would rise as the cost-of-living rises. McCain,
however, has favored seriously weakening the workers' essential right to
strike, by allowing employers to permanently replace strikers. He's also
supported a proposed right-to-work law that would seriously endanger unions
There should be no question about it. For working people
the obvious choice is Barack Obama.
Copyright (c) 2008 Dick Meister