Feature Stories

Oct. 1, 2008
McCain, Obama chart starkly different courses for United States THIS year's Presidential election could be historic in so many different ways. At the

McCain, Obama chart starkly different courses for United States

THIS year's Presidential election could be historic in so many different ways. At the very least, it certainly will be memorable, and it is guaranteed to have a wide-ranging impact on the tank truck and storage terminal industries. Bulk Transporter examines some of the differences between the two candidates in this special report.

First of all, the race pits an African-American Democrat against a white Republican. Age difference adds even more contrast. Republican Senator John McCain would become the oldest person elected President, while Democrat Senator Barak Obama is young enough to be his son.

McCain had a lengthy military career, including a wrenching captivity in a Hanoi prison camp, and Obama has no military experience. Obama's soaring rhetorical style can energize a sports arena, while McCain is more comfortable in a town-hall setting.

The two candidates are just as different on policy issues. McCain is a free market advocate who wants tax cuts and less government. Obama has called for targeted tax cuts, but he also wants significantly greater government involvement in job creation, organized labor, and universal health care.

There is little question that McCain and Obama will move in different directions on regulatory issues. The same goes for federal court appointments, which could have as much, or more, impact on the regulatory process.

Positions on the Supreme Court are almost certain to open up during the next President's administration. In addition, there are at least 44 trial and appellate federal judicial vacancies to be filled.

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.

Democrat targets economy, environment, labor issues

BARAK Obama, the Democrat candidate for President, has promised the American people that he plans to lead the United States in a new direction. Using the mantra “Change we can believe in,” Obama says his presidency would significantly alter the way the US government operates.

Strong issues for the Obama campaign are the economy, health care, jobs and labor issues, energy policy, and the environment. The platform laid out by Obama in his run for President provides a reasonably clear indication of his plans for addressing those issues.

The economy has steadily taken front and center in Obama's campaign. His focus on the issue sharpened even more during and after the frenzied Congressional effort in early October to pass the $700 billion bail-out measure for the financial sector.

Speaking in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on October 1, he said “Our economy is in crisis. The dreams of so many Americans are at risk, and the American people are waiting for leadership from Washington. The failure (on September 29) to pass the economic rescue plan in the House (of Representatives) led to the single largest decline of the stock market in two decades. Over one trillion dollars of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed. The 401Ks and retirement accounts that millions count on for their family's future are now smaller. Hardworking Americans who invested their nest egg to watch it grow are now watching it disappear…This is not just a Wall Street crisis — it's an American crisis, and it's the American economy that needs this plan.”

During the same speech, Obama summed up his campaign objectives in economic terms. “I will go through the entire federal budget, line by line, and eliminate the programs that don't work and aren't needed,” he said. “We should start by ending the war in Iraq that is costing us $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. We should stop sending $15 billion a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare and go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. And we can end the hundreds of millions a year in subsidies to agribusiness that can survive just fine without your tax dollars.”

Obama said that passage of the $700 billion bailout package would not — on its own — put an end to the economic crisis. It's just the beginning of a long, hard road ahead.

“We lose $100 billion every year because corporations set up mailboxes offshore so they can avoid paying a dime of taxes in America,” Obama added. “As President, I will shut down those offshore tax havens and all those corporate loop holes once and for all. I will end the abuse of non-bid contracts once and for all.

“We cannot wait to help Americans keep up with the rising costs and shrinking paychecks by giving our workers a middleclass tax cut,” he said. “We need to pass an economic stimulus plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices…a plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who have lost their jobs and cannot find new ones.

“We cannot wait to relieve the burden of crushing health care costs. We cannot wait to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our roads and our bridges and investing in the renewable resources of energy that will stop us from sending $700 billion a year to tyrants and dictators for their oil.”

On freeing Americans from oil imports, Obama said: “We'll rebuild our outdated electricity grid. We'll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs.”

Additional positions

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

Economy —

  • Taxes would be increased for those earning more than $250,000. Those making less would see a tax cut.

  • Obama will reinstate pay-as-you-go federal budget rules. New spending or tax cuts will have to be paid for by offsetting spending cuts or new revenue (including higher taxes).

  • Obama says he will eliminate tax loopholes and deductions for the oil and gas industry.

  • Obama has pledged to pass the card-check law that would allow workers to form a union simply by collecting a majority of cards signed by workers supporting the unionization of their employer's business. Under current law, once a majority of workers submit cards requesting union certification, an election is held in which workers vote by secret ballot on whether to ratify unionization. The pending bill, called the Employee Free Choice Act, does not require the secret ballot vote unless at least 30% of workers call for it.

Energy —

  • Obama will crack down on excessive energy speculation, which he blames for driving up the price of gasoline and diesel.

  • He wants to develop and deploy clean coal technology, and he has offered lukewarm support for coal-to-liquids technologies.

  • Tax incentives would encourage greater use of E85 (85% ethanol) as an automotive fuel.

  • He calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be used in the United States by 2022 and 60 billion gallons by 2030.

  • Strategic Petroleum Reserve swap. Obama has proposes a petroleum reserve swap to help lower the price of oil for consumers, increase the amount of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increase energy security, and earn taxpayers about $1 billion.

  • Obama remains adamantly opposed to oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Environment/Global warming —

  • As President, Obama has said that he will make combating global warming a top priority. His goal will be to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

  • Obama supports implementation of a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions, and he will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100% auction ensures that all large corporate polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release.

  • A national low-carbon fuel standard will speed the introduction of low-carbon, non-petroleum fuels. Fuel suppliers must reduce their carbon emissions 10% by 2010.

  • 25% of electricity must come from renewable sources by 2025.

  • Fuel economy standards for cars will be doubled within 18 years.

  • State and local governments will be mandated to include energy conservation when planning projects that use federal transportation funds.

  • An Obama Presidency will act more aggressively to recover the cost of Superfund cleanups from the polluters.

  • Environmental justice will be a priority, and the Environmental Protection Agency will take more criminal action against alleged polluters.

Health care —

  • A national health care program with universal health insurance that would save the typical family up to $2500 each year. Obama's health care plan does not provide universal health care coverage. He promises to make it affordable and would require children to be covered, but not adults.

  • Create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals and businesses that want to purchase private health insurance directly.

  • Require all employers to contribute towards health care coverage for their employees or towards the cost of the public plan.

  • The health insurance would be portable. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.

Immigration —

  • A guest worker program would be implemented, providing a path toward citizenship for all undocumented workers. Illegals would be allowed to pay a fine to remain in the United States.

  • The crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants would continue.

National security —

  • Obama has called for stronger security requirements for chemical plants and wants to use as a framework the Chemical Security and Safety Act that he co-sponsored in the Senate with Sen Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).