Almost from the first day since winning his Senate seat less than four years ago, Barack Obama has been running for president. After Chicago's leading political consultant, David Axelrod, agreed to run Obama's Senate campaign in 2003, The Economist magazine in Britain reported "he simultaneously set about using his contacts in the Washington press corps to present Mr. Obama as a national star in the making."
Axelrod is a firm believer in the importance of telling "a positive story about the candidate rather than to muddy the narrative with lots of talk about policy details." Oh those "silly" policy details -- who cares about them when we can have a Greek god/rock star for president?
This focus on biography has left Americans wondering about his readiness. Sure, he may be a nice guy, but we are electing a president to lead America.
Bill Clinton tried to put the experience issue to bed in his speech at the Denver Democratic convention, but the question still lingers in Americans' minds. Is Obama ready to lead our country of 300 million people? In addition, the next question is how will his policies affect me?
When the honeymoon is over and people's infatuation with Obama wears off, they will definitely care about his policies. They will care about how these policies affect their day-to-day lives and pocketbook. Obama cannot be bothered with sharing these policy positions in his rhetorically flashy speeches because they are considered boring. Therefore, we did the research, and will answer the question of how they will mean to you.
John McCain would like to make the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent, and McCain has proposed a few more tax cuts of his own. Obama, by contrast, favors allowing the tax cuts to expire; that expiration will be the largest tax increase in American history.
As though gas prices are not high enough, Obama proposes new oil and gasoline taxes.
However, that is not all in the way of new taxes. Retirement accounts will see new taxes as well as natural resources, including natural gas used to heat homes, water and electricity.
To pay for government-run medicine, new taxes must be initiated to finance this expensive form of medical care. All of these new taxes will hit everyone hard, but they will be especially harmful to the elderly and lower-income folks that Obama says he cares so much about.
Obama would raise taxes on capital gains. He proposes a 28-plus percent tax on all home sale profits. This policy affects all homeowners but will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the sale of their homes to fund their retirement or the move into a senior or assisted living/nursing home. Maybe you want to downsize to save on all of the utility bills that Obama wants to tax, but he will get your money one way or another with his Catch-22. He wants new government taxes on homes that are more than 2,400 square feet. So you can keep your 2,401 square foot house and be taxed more, or sell it and pay 28% taxes on your profit.
McCain does not want to return the inheritance tax Bush repealed, but Obama wants to. Obama likes to paint inheritance taxes as something that only the "rich" pay. But many families have lost homes, businesses, farms and ranches because their loved ones couldn't afford the inheritance tax required in order to keep them. Most are not "wealthy" Americans, but people trying to continue their livelihoods (in a business or farming) or pass on a home to family members instead of having it go to the government.
With inflation rising, more and more Americans are putting their money into investments such as the stock market, mutual funds or an IRA, in preparation for retirement instead of savings accounts at banks. Obama plans to increase the dividend tax to 39.6 percent from the 15 percent which McCain wants to keep. Anything that reinvests or pays dividends, including bank accounts, will be taxed at more than twice the present rate. How's that an incentive for American's to save money?
Obama echo's Bill Clinton's campaign rhetoric from 1992 calling for a middle-class tax cut, but if memories were not so short, Americans would recall that the middle-class tax cut was the first policy reversal of the Clinton presidency.
So as you decide for whom you will vote, look beyond the slick image of Barack Obama that David Axelrod wants you to see. Instead, consider some of the specific public policies Obama proposes that will change your life.