The economy is the top concern for American voters, according to a recent Associated Press/Yahoo News poll, making it a hot topic among candidates stumping for votes. Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain all have different views on improving the economy. This makes the stakes even higher for voters who are trying to decide which plan will benefit them the most.
Despite the best intentions, “no candidate has the perfect plan,” says Margaret Simms, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute think tank and a member of the BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of Economists. Still, something is better than nothing; all of the candidates have their proposed plans for tax cuts or tax breaks and housing relief.
While it is unlikely that any of the candidates would be able to implement all of their proposals in the first year of office, a couple of policies are particularly relevant to African Americans, Simms points out. Environmentally-focused job-training programs, such as those proposed by Obama, could bring new wealth to the African American community as they help African Americans take advantage of new opportunities.
On the flip side, mortgage relief plans, such as McCain’s, that depend on homeowners proving their creditworthiness at the time of the loan could prove troublesome for African Americans. Her concern:
some people in the subprime market may not have stellar credit, and in the worst cases, may not have had to prove they were creditworthy.
Here’s how the candidates plan to tackle some key economic issues:
At the forefront of Obama’s agenda is a “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person or $1,000 per family, a $4,000 college tax credit and the elimination of income taxes for seniors who make less than $50,000. To combat the housing crisis, Obama plans to create a fund that will help distressed homeowners refinance or sell their homes. He proposes coming up with a universal mortgage credit that would allow taxpayers who do not itemize to enjoy a 10% tax credit for being homeowners. He also proposes to eliminate a bankruptcy law provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying the mortgage payments of individuals seeking bankruptcy protection. To jump-start the economy, Obama plans to amend or strengthen trade agreements with foreign countries and to create new jobs through such measures as increased funding for federal job-training programs and emphasized instruction in working with green technologies.
McCain proposes doubling the personal exemption for dependents from $3,500 to $7,500 and repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax. To confront the housing crisis, McCain proposes allowing homeowners who were creditworthy at the time that they received their current home loans to refinance into more manageable loans. When it comes to jobs, McCain focuses more on stimulating big business than the employee, offering a 10% cut to the federal corporate tax rate and establishing a tax credit that equals 10% of the amount in wages spent on research and development.