06 January 2008

Presidential Election 2008 & the issues

A few weeks ago, I drove to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles to register for the Primary Election, here in Pennsylvania, that will take place in April. A nice woman handed me a form to fill out and mail. I filled it out at the DMV, and then asked a guy who worked there if it was all filled out correctly. He was very kind, and told me to take the application to the courthouse, instead of mailing the form, to make sure I get registered. So I followed his advice and drove to the courthouse. Registering took less than a minute, and I was given my voter's registration paper, and told that I have until March to change my mind on parties.

I am about as moderate as they come, but I had to choose a party to be able to vote in the primary. When I registered, I was leaning towards John Edwards, simply because of the issues...but, like the woman said, I have until March to change my mind for parties, and then until April to change my mind about who to vote for in that party.

Here are the issues I care about and how I feel about them:

  1. Health Care - I believe all legal citizens of the United States should be able to receive the same health coverage as our law makers receive on our tax money, and to take the burden of the cost of health care from civilian employers.

  2. Education - Simply, without giving an equal opportunity for an excellent education to every child, our country will deteriorate. This should not be Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" where only "A" citizens receive the best education, but one where even the most impoverished citizen can receive the best education.

  3. 1st Amendment - I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech.

  4. 2nd Amendment - I am a firm believer in the right of every citizen to bear arms.

  5. Immigration - I am a firm believer that illegal immigration is ILLEGAL -- not just undocumented. And I believe it is hypocritical of our government to wage a war of paranoia against terrorism, yet allow illegal immigration.

So, let talk about each issue separately:

The New York Times at http://politics.nytimes.com/election-guide/2008/issues/index.html#/context=index/issue=health has a list of where presidential candidates stand on the issue of Health Care. I will mention my top 3 candidates on the issue. To see the rest, please click on the link provided above:

  1. Dennis J. Kucinich: Establish Medicare for all; pay for it by removing costs related to private insurers and implementing taxes for the highest earners and a payroll tax.
    Proposal to Expand Coverage
    "A not-for-profit health care system is not only possible, but H.R. 676, a bill that I introduced, and a number of Congressmen, the Conyers-Kucinich bill, actually establishes Medicare for all, a single-payer system and it's a not-for-profit system. It's time we ended this thought that health care is a privilege. It is a basic right, and it's time to end this control that insurance companies have not only over health care but over our political system. I'm talking about a real deal for the American people, a universal single-payer not-for-profit Medicare for all."—
    Presidential Forum on Health Care March 24, 2007
    Paying for Additional Costs

    "At least 30% of the $3.2 trillion spent annually for health care in the United States goes to the for-profit system, while 50 million Americans, many of them working, are without health insurance. About $660 billion goes for corporate profits, executive salaries, stock options, advertising, marketing, and the cost of paperwork. If we took all that money and we put it into a public health system, a national health care plan, we would have enough money to cover everything for everyone."—
    House floor July 12, 2006
    "(B) Increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners.
    (C) Instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income.
    (D) Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions."—
    H.R. 676
  2. Barack Obama: Require that all children have health insurance; pay for it by rolling back President Bush's tax cuts for people earning over $250,000; aims for universal coverage.
    Proposal to Expand Coverage

    Require employers to provide insurance or contribute to the cost. Exempt smallest businesses. Reimburse employers for catastrophic health costs. Provide subsidies for low-income people. Create purchasing pool with choice of competing private plans and one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
    "The main disagreement with John [Edwards] and I is John believes that we have to have mandatory insurance for everyone in order to have universal health care. My belief is that most families want health care but they can't afford it. And so my emphasis is on driving down the costs, taking on the insurance companies, making sure that they are limited in the ability to extract profits and deny coverage -- that we make sure the drug companies have to do what's right by their patients instead of simply hoarding their profits. If we do those things then I believe that we can drive down the costs for families. In fact, we've got very conservative, credible estimates that say we can save families that do have health insurance about a thousand dollars a year, and we can also make sure that we provide coverage for everybody else. And we do provide mandatory health care for children."—
    CNN debate for Democratic candidates June 3, 2007
    Quality Affordable Health Care for All by the End of Barack Obama's First Term in Office (barackobama.com)
    Paying for Additional Costs
    To help pay for all this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don't make a meaningful contribution today to the health care coverage of their employees to do so by supporting this new plan. And we'll also allow the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.—
    University of Iowa, May 29, 2007
  3. John Edwards: Require everyone to get health insurance, subsidized by employers and the government; pay for it by rolling back President Bush's tax cuts for the highest earners.
    Proposal to Expand Coverage

    Require employers to provide insurance or contribute to cost, with subsidies for low-income people. Create regional nonprofit pools that offer private plans and at least one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program to serve adults below the poverty line and children and parents below 250 percent of the line.
    "What we're going to do is cover every single American, including the 47 million who don't have coverage. We're going to bring down costs for everybody. And for most Americans, we're going to help them pay the cost. It's based on a concept of shared responsibility. In the case of employers, we're going to ask them to do more to either insure all their employees or to contribute to their being insured. The government will help subsidize the health care and create health care markets so we have more competition and deal with issues like preventative care, mental health care, to make sure those kind of things -- chronic care -- are, in fact, being done. And then, finally, for individuals, we're going to make sure they have insurance. They have to have insurance so that everybody has health insurance."—
    "Meet the Press," Feb. 4, 2007
    Health Care (johnedwards.com)
    Paying for Additional Costs

    The tax cuts that George Bush gave to people who make over $200,000 a year will have to go away to pay for my health care plan. My universal health care plan costs 90- to $120 billion a year. I do not believe, having spent a lot of time on this, that you can achieve universal health care without--without finding a revenue source, and that's my revenue source.—
    Face the Nation, Feb. 25, 2007

Now, for the issue of Immigration, we head for the Republican side of the isle with:

  1. Mitt Romney: No path to legalization; toughen penalties hiring illegal immigrants; finish building border fence.
    On the Border Fence and Border Security
    Finish building border fence.
    "My view, you have to secure the border, number one, have an employment verification system, number two, and number three, say to those that are there illegally, get in line with everybody else; you're not going to have a special doorway, any particular advantage, by having come here illegally, to become a permanent resident."—
    Republican debate, May 15, 2007
    On Illegal Aliens Already in the Country
    Issue biometric identification cards to noncitizens and create a verification system. Streamline system to recruit skilled workers. Cut financing to cities where officials cannot enforce immigration laws.
    "The first thing I'd like them to do is to register, so I know how many there are, and what their circumstances are. And on that basis, we can see who would receive temporary employment visas and who would instead be required to return home."—
    San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 2007
    "There's no question as we deal with the issue of immigration, having a national special card that indicates a person's name, date, birth date, biographic information, and an indication of their work status will allow us to know who's here legally, who's not, who can work and who cannot."—
    Republican debate, May 3, 2007
    Actions on the Issue
    As governor of Massachusetts, opposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
    Vetoed a bill allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at the states universities.
    Signed an agreement with federal authorities in December 2006, allowing Massachusetts State Police troopers to arrest and seek deportation of suspected illegal immigrants they encounter over the course of their normal duties.
  2. Fred D. Thompson: No path to legalization; increase enforcement against illegal workers; finish border fence.
    On the Border Fence and Border Security
    Finish border fence; increase patrol agents to at least 25,000.
    "Well, I'm concerned about the next 12 million or 20 million. So that's why enforcement, and enforcement at the border, has to be primary."—
    "Fox News Sunday," March 11, 2007
    On Illegal Aliens Already in the Country

    Require employers to use the Homeland Security database to verify status. Cut financing to governments that offer benefits to illegal immigrants or do not enforce laws.
    "You know, if you have the right kind of policies, and you're not encouraging people to come here and encouraging them to stay once they're here, they'll go back, many of them, of their own volition, instead of having to, you know, load up moving vans and rounding people up."—
    "Fox News Sunday," March 11, 2007
    "We need to tell them, if you're going to have sanctuary cities in violation of the law, you're not getting federal money."—
    In Naples, Fla., Oct. 23, 2007
    Actions on the Issue
    Voted yes on the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2001, which increased the size of the border patrol and mandated tighter monitoring of temporary visas.—
    More Information
    Voted yes on "A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to H-1B nonimmigrant aliens," which increased the number of visas available to high-tech workers.—
    More Information
  3. Ron Paul: No path to legalization; voted for fence along Mexican border.
    On the Border Fence and Border Security
    "The talk must stop. We must secure our borders now. A nation without secure borders is no nation at all. It makes no sense to fight terrorists abroad when our own front door is left unlocked. ... We must do whatever it takes to control entry."—
    Campaign Web site,
    On Illegal Aliens Already in the Country

    No services for illegal immigrants, including hospitals and schools. End birthright citizenship.
    "We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals."—
    Campaign Web site,
    Actions on the Issue
    Voted yes on the "Secure Fence Act of 2006," which created 700 miles of new fence along the US/Mexico border.—
    More information
    Voted yes on the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005," that would have made it a federal crime to live in the U.S. illegaly and didn't provide any options for current illegal immigrants to gain legal status.—
    More information

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