AMERICAN ELECTIONS -THE FINAL COUNT DOWN

Its the final count down between Presidential Nominees – Democratic Barak Obama and Republican John McCain . Just a few more days to go and it will be all over . Its been a long hard slug for this pair . THE Big Question is who gets the much chased prize come November 4th . May the Best / Lucky man win . If the Polls are anything to go by , it would seem that one of them will need a few Hail Marys to grab his goal . That one person is McCain , if you are to believe the polls . Obama has consistently maintained a 5 week *8 Point Lead which has gradually been whittled down by a point or 2 as a result of McCain /Palin’s sustained vitriolic , scare-mongering, negative campaigning .

McCain has been accused of ochestrating and employing the Politics of divisive, fear -mongering tactics ; ranging from questioning Obama’s Patriotism .. thinly disguised label of not being an American , associations with unsavoury characters ; the likes of radical 60’s Ayer (now Professor ) when Obama was 8 years old , and an ex PLO —all these McCains camp say makes him a terrorist , an Arab .. a Muslim and even a Socialist because Obama he said is touting a Socialist Economic Approach to Tax Cuts which would ‘redistribute wealth and raise Taxes on the uber rich .and Corporation billionaires .
*Obama’s Proposals throughout his Campaign trail has been 95% Tax cut for all Americans , no tax demand on anyone earning below $250000 a year . McCain does not see the need in taxing anybody especially a time of financial crisis .

McCain sees Obama’s Tax Plans as just another Government give away . THERE LIES THE BIG IRONY between both Candidates Economic Policies.
The Taxpayers Bailout of the Economy to the tune of $700bn , pushed by Bush , Supported by McCAIN and ratified by Congress some weeks ago cannot be called by any other Name …. but … Socialism . The Capitalist American Financial Crisis , the worst since the Depression had to be bailed out by the Peoples Money ! As McCain himself would say ; that my friend is ..SOCIALISM .

Both Candidates have again different rescue plans for BESIEGED HOME OWNERS who can no longer afford to pay their MORTGAGES .
* McCain proposes a Government ‘ BUY UP ‘ of all such LOANS and re-work the terms as such Home owners can afford . TALK OF SOCIALISM ; AND THE POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK . ( Excuse the Pun ) !
*Obama ‘s Proposal is a moratorium of 3 months ( 90 days ) GRACE on all such BESIEGED HOMEOWNERS after which the terms of their loan would be re-negotiated . Both proposals let homeowners remain in these houses during the periods of re-negotiations and terms re-work .

*Taxes however are determined by government spending , not by temporary changes in tax codes . It is thought that McCain’s
never -ending near hysterical chest -pounding stance of pre-emptying wars will cause SPENDING to escalate by much more
than OBAMA’s Safety Nets . This means that McCain’s extra Military and Moralistic Big Government is much worst than Obama’s Big Economic Government .

The simple truth is that Obama’s Prposals is a Progression of the Tax System which McCains Republican supports .

JAPAN- NUCLEAR

opposition.

It was the first time in more than four decades that Japan had been without nuclear power.

Government officials and utilities voiced concern at the time that Japan could face major blackouts without nuclear power, particularly in the western region that relied heavily on nuclear energy.

Their fears proved unfounded but the government last year gave Kansai Electric approval to restart No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant, arguing that nuclear energy was necessary to meet increased electricity demand during the winter.

The reactors were reactivated in July 2012 and resumed full commercial operation the following month, but the No. 3 reactor was shut down earlier this month for a scheduled inspection. The nation’s other reactors have remained idle.

Utilities this summer have submitted applications to restart their reactors with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has significantly upgraded safety standards since the Fukushima crisis.

The central government and utilities will seek the consent of local governments and communities hosting nuclear plants before any future restarts.

Radiation was spread over homes and farmland in a large area of northern Japan when the massive tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear power pant on March 11, 2011 and caused meltdowns of its reactors.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the meltdowns, but tens of thousands were evacuated and many remain so. Some areas are expected to be uninhabitable for decades.

OBAMA / McCAIN DEBATE 2

Brokaw: We’ve run out of time. We have this one-minute discussion period going on here.

There are new economic realities out there that everyone in this hall and across this country understands that there are going to have to be some choices made. Health policies, energy policies, and entitlement reform, what are going to be your priorities in what order? Which of those will be your highest priority your first year in office and which will follow in sequence?

Sen. McCain?

McCain: The three priorities were health…

Brokaw: The three — health care, energy, and entitlement reform: Social Security and Medicare. In what order would you put them in terms of priorities?

McCain: I think you can work on all three at once, Tom. I think it’s very important that reform our entitlement programs.

My friends, we are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers that we are going — that present-day retirees have today. We’re going to have to sit down across the table, Republican and Democrat, as we did in 1983 between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.

I know how to do that. I have a clear record of reaching across the aisle, whether it be Joe Lieberman or Russ Feingold or Ted Kennedy or others. That’s my clear record.

We can work on nuclear power plants. Build a whole bunch of them, create millions of new jobs. We have to have all of the above, alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal technology. All of these things we can do as Americans and we can take on this mission and we can overcome it.

My friends, some of this $700 billion ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

As far as health care is concerned, obviously, everyone is struggling to make sure that they can afford their premiums and that they can have affordable and available health care. That’s the next issue.

But we can do them all at once. There’s no — and we have to do them all at once. All three you mentioned are compelling national security requirements.

Brokaw: I’m trying to play by the rules that you all established. One minute for discussion.

Sen. Obama, if you would give us your list of priorities, there are some real questions about whether everything can be done at once.

Obama: We’re going to have to prioritize, just like a family has to prioritize. Now, I’ve listed the things that I think have to be at the top of the list.

Energy we have to deal with today, because you’re paying $3.80 here in Nashville for gasoline, and it could go up. And it’s a strain on your family budget, but it’s also bad for our national security, because countries like Russia and Venezuela and, you know, in some cases, countries like Iran, are benefiting from higher oil prices.

So we’ve got to deal with that right away. That’s why I’ve called for an investment of $15 billion a year over 10 years. Our goal should be, in 10 year’s time, we are free of dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

And we can do it. Now, when JFK said we’re going to the Moon in 10 years, nobody was sure how to do it, but we understood that, if the American people make a decision to do something, it gets done. So that would be priority number one.

Health care is priority number two, because that broken health care system is bad not only for families, but it’s making our businesses less competitive.

And, number three, we’ve got to deal with education so that our young people are competitive in a global economy.

But just one point I want to make, Tom. Sen. McCain mentioned looking at our records. We do need to look at our records.

Sen. McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. And that’s important. I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don’t work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper.

But understand this: We also have to look at where some of our tax revenues are going. So when Sen. McCain proposes a $300 billion tax cut, a continuation not only of the Bush tax cuts, but an additional $200 billion that he’s going to give to big corporations, including big oil companies, $4 billion worth, that’s money out of the system.

And so we’ve got to prioritize both our spending side and our tax policies to make sure that they’re working for you. That’s what I’m going to do as president of the United States.

Brokaw: All right, gentlemen, I want to just remind you one more time about time. We’re going to have a larger deficit than the federal government does if we don’t get this under control here before too long.

Sen. McCain, for you, we have our first question from the Internet tonight. A child of the Depression, 78-year-old Fiorra from Chicago.

Since World War II, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. As president, what sacrifices — sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we’re now in?

McCain: Well, Fiorra, I’m going to ask the American people to understand that there are some programs that we may have to eliminate.

I first proposed a long time ago that we would have to examine every agency and every bureaucracy of government. And we’re going to have to eliminate those that aren’t working.

I know a lot of them that aren’t working. One of them is in defense spending, because I’ve taken on some of the defense contractors. I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion in a deal for an Air Force tanker that was done in a corrupt fashion.

I believe that we have to eliminate the earmarks. And sometimes those projects, not — not the overhead projector that Sen. Obama asked for, but some of them that are really good projects, will have — will have to be eliminated, as well.

And they’ll have to undergo the same scrutiny that all projects should in competition with others.

So we’re going to have to tell the American people that spending is going to have to be cut in America. And I recommend a spending freeze that — except for defense, Veterans Affairs, and some other vital programs, we’ll just have to have across-the-board freeze.

And some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full transparency, with full knowledge of the American people, and full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night into programs that we don’t even — sometimes we don’t even know about until months later.

And, by the way, I want to go back a second.

Look, we can attack health care and energy at the same time. We’re not — we’re not — we’re not rifle shots here. We are Americans. We can, with the participation of all Americans, work together and solve these problems together.

Frankly, I’m not going to tell that person without health insurance that, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait.” I’m going to tell you Americans we’ll get to work right away and we’ll get to work together, and we can get them all done, because that’s what America has been doing.

Brokaw: Sen. McCain, thank you very much.

Sen. Obama?

Obama: You know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country.

And President Bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the American people, he said, “Go out and shop.”

That wasn’t the kind of call to service that I think the American people were looking for.

And so it’s important to understand that the — I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.

And let’s take the example of energy, which we already spoke about. There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy.

I believe in the need for increased oil production. We’re going to have to explore new ways to get more oil, and that includes offshore drilling. It includes telling the oil companies, that currently have 68 million acres that they’re not using, that either you use them or you lose them.

We’re going to have to develop clean coal technology and safe ways to store nuclear energy.

But each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we’re providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that’s made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.

And that’s going to require effort from each and every one of us.

And the last point I just want to make. I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.

That’s something that all of us have to be involved with and that requires some leadership from Washington.

Brokaw: Sen. Obama, as we begin, very quickly, our discussion period, President Bush, you’ll remember, last summer, said that “Wall Street got drunk.”

A lot of people now look back and think the federal government got drunk and, in fact, the American consumers got drunk.

How would you, as president, try to break those bad habits of too much debt and too much easy credit, specifically, across the board, for this country, not just at the federal level, but as a model for the rest of the country, as well?

Obama: Well, I think it starts with Washington. We’ve got to show that we’ve got good habits, because if we’re running up trillion dollar debts that we’re passing on to the next generation, then a lot of people are going to think, “Well, you know what? There’s easy money out there.”

It means — and I have to, again, repeat this. It means looking (ph) at the spending side, but also at the revenue side. I mean, Sen. McCain has been talking tough about earmarks, and that’s good, but earmarks account for about $18 billion of our budget.

Now, when Sen. McCain is proposing tax cuts that would give the average Fortune 500 CEO an additional $700,000 in tax cuts, that’s not sharing a burden.

And so part of the problem, I think, for a lot of people who are listening here tonight is they don’t feel as if they are sharing the burden with other folks.

I mean, you know, it’s tough to ask a teacher who’s making $30,000 or $35,000 a year to tighten her belt when people who are making much more than her are living pretty high on the hog.

And that’s why I think it’s important for the president to set a tone that says all of us are going to contribute, all of us are going to make sacrifices, and it means that, yes, we may have to cut some spending, although I disagree with Sen. McCain about an across-the- board freeze.

That’s an example of an unfair burden sharing. That’s using a hatchet to cut the federal budget.

I want to use a scalpel so that people who need help are getting help and those of us, like myself and Sen. McCain, who don’t need help, aren’t getting it.

That’s how we make sure that everybody is willing to make a few sacrifices.

Brokaw: Sen. McCain?

McCain: Well, you know, nailing down Sen. Obama’s various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. There has been five or six of them and if you wait long enough, there will probably be another one.

But he wants to raise taxes. My friends, the last president to raise taxes during tough economic times was Herbert Hoover, and he practiced protectionism as well, which I’m sure we’ll get to at some point.

You know, last year up to this time, we’ve lost 700,000 jobs in America. The only bright spot is that over 300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses. Sen. Obama’s secret that you don’t know is that his tax increases will increase taxes on 50 percent of small business revenue.

Small businesses across America will have to cut jobs and will have their taxes increase and won’t be able to hire because of Sen. Obama’s tax policies. You know, he said some time ago, he said he would forgo his tax increases if the economy was bad.

I’ve got some news, Sen. Obama, the news is bad. So let’s not raise anybody’s taxes, my friends, and make it be very clear to you I am not in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. I am in favor of leaving the tax rates alone and reducing the tax burden on middle-income Americans by doubling your tax exemption for every child from $3,500 to $7,000.

To giving every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit and go out and get the health insurance you want rather than mandates and fines for small businesses, as Sen. Obama’s plan calls for. And let’s create jobs and let’s get our economy going again. And let’s not raise anybody’s taxes.

Brokaw: Sen. Obama, we have another question from the Internet.

Obama: Tom, can I respond to this briefly? Because…

Brokaw: Well, look, guys, the rules were established by the two campaigns, we worked very hard on this. This will address, I think, the next question.

Obama: The tax issue, because I think it’s very important. Go ahead.

Brokaw: There are lots of issues that we are going to be dealing with here tonight. And we have a question from Langdon (ph) in Ballston Spa, New York, and that’s about huge unfunded obligations for Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs that will soon eat up all of the revenue that’s in place and then go into a deficit position.

Since the rules are pretty loose here, I’m going to add my own to this one. Instead of having a discussion, let me ask you as a coda to that. Would you give Congress a date certain to reform Social Security and Medicare within two years after you take office? Because in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees, that’s a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up maybe even more than the mortgage crisis.

Obama: Well, Tom, we’re going to have to take on entitlements and I think we’ve got to do it quickly. We’re going to have a lot of work to do, so I can’t guarantee that we’re going to do it in the next two years, but I’d like to do in the my first term as president.

But I think it’s important to understand, we’re not going to solve Social Security and Medicare unless we understand the rest of our tax policies. And you know, Sen. McCain, I think the “Straight Talk Express” lost a wheel on that one.

So let’s be clear about my tax plan and Sen. McCain’s, because we’re not going to be able to deal with entitlements unless we understand the revenues coming in. I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of Americans, 95 percent.

If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up. If you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down.

Now, Sen. McCain talks about small businesses. Only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. So the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.

And we provide a 50 percent tax credit so that they can buy health insurance for their workers, because there are an awful lot of small businesses that I meet across America that want to do right by their workers but they just can’t afford it. Some small business owners, a lot of them, can’t even afford health insurance for themselves.

Now, in contrast, Sen. McCain wants to give a $300 billion tax cut, $200 billion of it to the largest corporations and a hundred thousand of it — a hundred billion of it going to people like CEOs on Wall Street.

He wants to give average Fortune 500 CEO an additional $700,000 in tax cuts. That is not fair. And it doesn’t work.

Now, if we get our tax policies right so that they’re good for the middle class, if we reverse the policies of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place and that Sen. McCain supported, then we are going to be in a position to deal with Social Security and deal with Medicare, because we will have a health care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term, and Social Security that is stable and solvent for all Americans and not just some.

Brokaw: Sen. McCain, two years for a reform of entitlement programs?

McCain: Sure. Hey, I’ll answer the question. Look — look, it’s not that hard to fix Social Security, Tom. It’s just…

Brokaw: And Medicare.

McCain: … tough decisions. I want to get to Medicare in a second.

Social Security is not that tough. We know what the problems are, my friends, and we know what the fixes are. We’ve got to sit down together across the table. It’s been done before.

I saw it done with our — our wonderful Ronald Reagan, a conservative from California, and the liberal Democrat Tip O’Neill from Massachusetts. That’s what we need more of, and that’s what I’ve done in Washington.

Sen. Obama has never taken on his party leaders on a single major issue. I’ve taken them on. I’m not too popular sometimes with my own party, much less his.

So Medicare, it’s going to be a little tougher. It’s going to be a little tougher because we’re talking about very complex and difficult issues.

My friends, what we have to do with Medicare is have a commission, have the smartest people in America come together, come up with recommendations, and then, like the base-closing commission idea we had, then we should have Congress vote up or down.

Let’s not let them fool with it anymore. There’s too much special interests and too many lobbyists working there. So let’s have — and let’s have the American people say, “Fix it for us.”
ecord.

Ingrid?

Jackson: Sen. McCain, I want to know, we saw that Congress moved pretty fast in the face of an economic crisis. I want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that Congress moves fast as far as environmental issues, like climate change and green jobs?

McCain: Well, thank you. Look, we are in tough economic times; we all know that. And let’s keep — never forget the struggle that Americans are in today.

But when we can — when we have an issue that we may hand our children and our grandchildren a damaged planet, I have disagreed strongly with the Bush administration on this issue. I traveled all over the world looking at the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, Joe Lieberman and I.

And I introduced the first legislation, and we forced votes on it. That’s the good news, my friends. The bad news is we lost. But we kept the debate going, and we kept this issue to — to posing to Americans the danger that climate change opposes.

Now, how — what’s — what’s the best way of fixing it? Nuclear power. Sen. Obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that.

Look, I — I was on Navy ships that had nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is safe, and it’s clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.

And — and I know that we can reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. The Japanese, the British, the French do it. And we can do it, too. Sen. Obama has opposed that.

We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternate — alternative energies for — for hybrid, for hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.

We can do that, we as Americans, because we’re the best innovators, we’re the best producers, and 95 percent of the people who are our market live outside of the United States of America.

Brokaw: Sen. Obama?

Obama: This is one of the biggest challenges of our times.

And it is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States.

It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.

And we can do it, but we’re going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we’ve got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.

And that’s why we’ve got to make some investments and I’ve called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal. Contrary to what Sen. McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix.

But this is another example where I think it is important to look at the record. Sen. McCain and I actually agree on something. He said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for 30 years, politicians in Washington haven’t done anything.

What Sen. McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them. And during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels, 23 times.

So it’s easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign, but it’s important for us to understand that it requires a sustained effort from the next president.

One last point I want to make on energy. Sen. McCain talks a lot about drilling, and that’s important, but we have three percent of the world’s oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil.

So what that means is that we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem. And we’re not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming.

We’re going to have to come up with alternatives, and that means that the United States government is working with the private sector to fund the kind of innovation that we can then export to countries like China that also need energy and are setting up one coal power plant a week.

We’ve got to make sure that we’re giving them the energy that they need or helping them to create the energy that they need.

Brokaw: Should we fund a Manhattan-like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across America, the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?

McCain: I think pure research and development investment on the part of the United States government is certainly appropriate. I think once it gets into productive stages, that we ought to, obviously, turn it over to the private sector.

By the way, my friends, I know you grow a little weary with this back-and-forth. It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney.

You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me. I have fought time after time against these pork barrel — these bills that come to the floor and they have all kinds of goodies and all kinds of things in them for everybody and they buy off the votes.

I vote against them, my friends. I vote against them. But the point is, also, on oil drilling, oil drilling offshore now is vital so that we can bridge the gap. We can bridge the gap between imported oil, which is a national security issue, as well as any other, and it will reduce the price of a barrel of oil, because when people know there’s a greater supply, then the cost of that will go down.

That’s fundamental economics. We’ve got to drill offshore, my friends, and we’ve got to do it now, and we can do it.

And as far as nuclear power is concerned, again, look at the record. Sen. Obama has approved storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

And I’ll stop, Tom, and you didn’t even wave. Thanks.

Brokaw: Thank you very much, Senator.

Next question for you, Sen. Obama, and it comes from the E section over here and it’s from Lindsey Trella.

Lindsey?

Trella: Senator, selling health care coverage in America as the marketable commodity has become a very profitable industry.

Do you believe health care should be treated as a commodity?

Obama: Well, you know, as I travel around the country, this is one of the single most frequently asked issues that I get, is the issue of health care. It is breaking family budgets. I can’t tell you how many people I meet who don’t have health insurance.

If you’ve got health insurance, most of you have seen your premiums double over the last eight years. And your co-payments and deductibles have gone up 30 percent just in the last year alone. If you’re a small business, it’s a crushing burden.

So one of the things that I have said from the start of this campaign is that we have a moral commitment as well as an economic imperative to do something about the health care crisis that so many families are facing.

So here’s what I would do. If you’ve got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it. You can keep your choice of doctor. We’re going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year.

And we’re going to do it by investing in prevention. We’re going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital. That will reduce medical errors and reduce costs.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’re going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. Because there’s a huge pool, we can drop the costs. And nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem.

Now, Sen. McCain has a different kind of approach. He says that he’s going to give you a $5,000 tax credit. What he doesn’t tell you is that he is going to tax your employer-based health care benefits for the first time ever.

So what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. He would also strip away the ability of states to provide some of the regulations on insurance companies to make sure you’re not excluded for pre-existing conditions or your mammograms are covered or your maternity is covered. And that is fundamentally the wrong way to go.

In fact, just today business organizations like the United States Chamber of Commerce, which generally are pretty supportive of Republicans, said that this would lead to the unraveling of the employer-based health care system.

That, I don’t think, is the kind of change that we need. We’ve got to have somebody who is fighting for patients and making sure that you get decent, affordable health care. And that’s something that I’m committed to doing as president.

Brokaw: Sen. McCain?

McCain: Well, thank you for the question. You really identified one of the really major challenges that America faces. Co-payments go up, costs go up, skyrocketing costs, which make people less and less able to afford health insurance in America.

And we need to do all of the things that are necessary to make it more efficient. Let’s put health records online, that will reduce medical errors, as they call them. Let’s have community health centers. Let’s have walk-in clinics. Let’s do a lot of things to impose efficiencies.

But what is at stake here in this health care issue is the fundamental difference between myself and Sen. Obama. As you notice, he starts talking about government. He starts saying, government will do this and government will do that, and then government will, and he’ll impose mandates.

If you’re a small business person and you don’t insure your employees, Sen. Obama will fine you. Will fine you. That’s remarkable. If you’re a parent and you’re struggling to get health insurance for your children, Sen. Obama will fine you.

I want to give every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit. They can take it anywhere, across state lines. Why not? Don’t we go across state lines when we purchase other things in America? Of course it’s OK to go across state lines because in Arizona they may offer a better plan that suits you best than it does here in Tennessee.

And if you do the math, those people who have employer-based health benefits, if you put the tax on it and you have what’s left over and you add $5,000 that you’re going to get as a refundable tax credit, do the math, 95 percent of the American people will have increased funds to go out and buy the insurance of their choice and to shop around and to get — all of those people will be covered except for those who have these gold-plated Cadillac kinds of policies.

You know, like hair transplants, I might need one of those myself. But the point is that we have got to give people choice in America and not mandate things on them and give them the ability. Every parent I know would acquire health insurance for their children if they could.

Obviously small business people want to give their employees health insurance. Of course they all want to do that. We’ve got to give them the wherewithal to do it. We can do it by giving them, as a start, a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go around and get the health insurance policy of their choice.

Brokaw: Quick discussion. Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?

Sen. McCain?

McCain: I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. And with the plan that — that I have, that will do that.

But government mandates I — I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility. It is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. American citizens understand that. Employers understand that.

But they certainly are a little nervous when Sen. Obama says, if you don’t get the health care policy that I think you should have, then you’re going to get fined. And, by the way, Sen. Obama has never mentioned how much that fine might be. Perhaps we might find that out tonight.

Obama: Well, why don’t — why don’t — let’s talk about this, Tom, because there was just a lot of stuff out there.

Brokaw: Privilege, right or responsibility. Let’s start with that.

Obama: Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills — for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.

So let me — let me just talk about this fundamental difference. And, Tom, I know that we’re under time constraints, but Sen. McCain through a lot of stuff out there.

Number one, let me just repeat, if you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it. All I’m going to do is help you to lower the premiums on it. You’ll still have choice of doctor. There’s no mandate involved.

Small businesses are not going to have a mandate. What we’re going to give you is a 50 percent tax credit to help provide health care for those that you need.

Now, it’s true that I say that you are going to have to make sure that your child has health care, because children are relatively cheap to insure and we don’t want them going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma.

And when Sen. McCain says that he wants to provide children health care, what he doesn’t mention is he voted against the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that is responsible for making sure that so many children who didn’t have previously health insurance have it now.

Now, the final point I’ll make on this whole issue of government intrusion and mandates — it is absolutely true that I think it is important for government to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their customers, that don’t give you the fine print, so you end up thinking that you’re paying for something and, when you finally get sick and you need it, you’re not getting it.

And the reason that it’s a problem to go shopping state by state, you know what insurance companies will do? They will find a state — maybe Arizona, maybe another state — where there are no requirements for you to get cancer screenings, where there are no requirements for you to have to get pre-existing conditions, and they will all set up shop there.

That’s how in banking it works. Everybody goes to Delaware, because they’ve got very — pretty loose laws when it comes to things like credit cards.

And in that situation, what happens is, is that the protections you have, the consumer protections that you need, you’re not going to have available to you.

That is a fundamental difference that I have with Sen. McCain. He believes in deregulation in every circumstance. That’s what we’ve been going through for the last eight years. It hasn’t worked, and we need fundamental change

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