Republican nominee eyes energy, tax, border, health reforms

JOHN MCCAIN, the Republican candidate for President, wants to use the White House to enhance the nation's energy supply, fix the US immigration system, reduce taxes, and provide access to health care for all Americans.

According to information garnered from the candidate's Web site and speeches he has given during the campaign, the nation's energy supply is at the top of McCain's list of issues.

“It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs…,” McCain said in remarks August 19. “New drilling has to be part of our energy solution. It will not solve this problem alone. Alternative energy will not solve this problem alone. Conservation will not solve this problem alone. Solving our energy crisis requires an ‘all of the above’ approach. It will require aggressive development of alternative energies like wind, solar, tidal and bio-fuels. It also requires expanding traditional sources of energy like clean coal, nuclear power, and off shore drilling…”

In addition to calling for domestic exploration and development of alternative energy, McCain urged a reform of the oil futures market. “We must purge the market of the reckless speculation, unrelated to any kind of productive commerce, that has inflated the price of gasoline,” he said.

Undocumented individuals

Addressing immigration and border security, the Republican senator has engaged dissent from some members of his party by supporting a program that would enroll undocumented individuals to resolve their status in the United States.

McCain defends his stand on this issue and has said that “the program will also ensure that all undocumented aliens either leave or follow the path to legal residence. America cannot permit a permanent category of individuals that do not have recognized status.”

At the same time, he said the top immigration priority is to secure the borders in an expedited manner, and that governors of border states would be required to certify that the border is secure.

Business tax

In his acceptance speech at the Republican convention September 4, he addressed tax issues. “Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs,” he said. “Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas.” McCain also is opposed to the windfall profits tax for the oil and gas industry, a move he said would result in increased dependence on foreign oil and discouragement of domestic exploration.

In another issue that is anathema to many Republicans — nationalized health care — McCain takes a moderate approach. He said he believes that access to health care must be provided for every American. Families should have the ability to purchase health insurance nationwide — across state lines, he said.

A reformation of the tax code should offer more choices beyond employer-based health insurance coverage. In addition, McCain championed medical liability reform legislation that would eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols.

Additional positions

Following is a capsule of McCain's support on various issues:

Energy —

  • Build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

  • Master clean-coal technology. “I will commit two billion dollars each year, until 2024, to clean-coal research, development, and deployment.”

  • Government must level the playing field for all alcohol fuels that break the monopoly of gasoline. “This can be done with a simple federal standard to hasten the conversion of all new vehicles in America to flex-fuel technology — allowing drivers to use alcohol fuels instead of gas in their cars,” he said.

  • “The current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production,” McCain said. He proposes to cooperate with the states and the Department of Defense in the decisions to develop these resources. (Congress placed a moratorium on new offshore drilling in 1981; the ban has been extended by every president since.)

  • Capitalize on domestic natural gas reserves, estimated at 77 trillion cubic feet of recoverable product.

  • Opposition to government subsidies for corn-based ethanol. He supports equal treatment of all forms of ethanol, especially sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil. “Instead of playing favorites, our government should level the playing field for all alcohol fuels that break the monopoly of gasoline, lowering both gasoline prices and carbon emissions,”

Global Warming —

  • Use reforms that only Congress can enact and the president can sign. “Yet for all the good work of entrepreneurs and inventors in finding cleaner and better technologies, the fundamental incentives of the market are still on the side of carbon-based energy,” he said. “This has to change before we can make the decisive shift away from fossil fuels.”

  • Support for a system that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gases, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions.

Immigration Issues —

  • Set clear guidelines and objectives for securing the border through physical and virtual barriers.

  • Ensure that adequate funding is provided for resources on the ground, but also training facilities, support staff, and the technology deployment.

  • Dedicate funding to US Attorney's offices in border states.

  • Implement sound policies for contracting Department of Homeland Security software and infrastructure.

  • Deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other aircraft where needed and appropriate in the border region.

  • Continue implementation of the US-VISIT comprehensive visitor security program.

  • Implement a secure, accurate, and reliable electronic employment verification system to ensure that individuals are screened for work eligibility in a real-time fashion. Use this new system in conjunction with other Department of Homeland Security resources to identify and aggressively prosecute employers that continue to hire illegal immigrants.

  • Form temporary worker programs to reflect labor needs of the United States in both the high-tech and low skilled sectors while protecting the employment opportunities for US workers.

Tax Reform —

  • Keep the top tax rate at 35%, maintain the 15% rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the alternative minimum tax.

  • Cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. “We now have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, making America a less attractive place for companies to do business,” he said.

  • Allow first-year deduction of equipment and technology investments.

  • Establish permanent tax credit equal to 10% of wages spent on research and development.

  • Ban internet and new cell phone taxes.

Health Care —

  • While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance.

  • Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.

  • Insurance available that follows employees from job to job and for those with preexisting conditions and/or without prior group coverage.

  • There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.

More information about McCain's programs are posted on the candidate's Web site at johnmccain.com.

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