On The Issues: Experts Speak on the Record

What the front-runners' voting records say about how they may lead

The Economy
John McCain

  • Voted No to the Bush tax cuts but later voted Yes to extend them
  • Voted No on a bill to end special funding for minority- and women-owned businesses competing for
    federally funded transportation
  • Voted to disallow the use of any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill to award, require, or
    encourage any federal contract on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor
  • Voted Yes to set aside 10% of highway construction funds for contracts bid on by businesses owned by minorities and women
  • Voted Yes to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25
  • McCain’s plan

Barack Obama

  • Voted No to extend the Bush tax cuts
  • Voted Yes to offer tax breaks and incentives in what supporters have said was an effort to spur oil and gas companies to provide ways to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, conserve recourses, and reduce pollution
  • Voted No to cut the federal estate tax permanently
  • Voted No to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Voted Yes to increase minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25
  • Voted No to make it harder for people to erase debt by declaring bankruptcy
  • Obama’s plan

The Expert:
William Spriggs, Ph.D., chair of Howard University’s economics department and a member of the BE Board of Economists
“The voting records on these tax policy issues suggest where the candidates stand on the Bush administration’s economic policies. [Sen. Obama shows his] opposition to the Bush policies that have made the federal tax structure more regressive, shifting a larger burden for taxes on middle-income wage earners. President Bush’s most recent budget clearly shows that he intends to offset the federal deficit resulting from his tax cuts and unfunded expenditures on the Iraq war by cutting middle-and low-income programs such as college tuition assistance and heating oil assistance. These votes show Sen. McCain, who backs Bush’s Iraq war policy, as proposing to extend Bush’s tax policy and thus suggests that he  will continue to spend huge unfunded amounts on the Iraq war. The continued growth in the federal deficit, in the face of the weakened dollar, would handcuff McCain in addressing the current economic downturn and undoubtedly lead him to the same laissez-faire approach taken by Bush. Obama has proposed more aggressive
measures to address the downturn, and these votes indicate their willingness to balance their stimulus plans with fiscal responsibility.”

Social Policy
John McCain

  • Voted No to the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for nine million uninsured children across the nation
  • Vote No to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by $3 trillion by
    closing corporate tax loopholes
  • Voted No to restore federal voting rights to ex-felons
  • Voted Yes to a welfare-to-work program that eliminated aid to families with dependent children and programs for job opportunities and basic skills training, and imposed a five-year limit to receive temporary assistance for needy families
  • Voted Yes to the Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to
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