May 30, 2024

McCain vs. Obama Debate

Financial Crisis

McCain:  we must stabilize home values by feds buying up bad loans.  We need to re-write these loans so homeowners can stay in their homes.

Obama:  the problem was caused by Republican de-regulation, something that McCain championed that led to sub-prime loan crisis I was well aware of.


Obama:  Bush doubled the national debt and we’re still running $500B deficit.  My plans will result in a net positive revenue situation.

McCain: watchdog groups call Obama the most liberal senator.  While I fought to reduce spending Obama got $1B in earmarks.


McCain:  we just can’t continue entitlement programs at current pace.  Nuke power will create new jobs.  We can address energy, health care, and education all at once.

Obama:  we must prioritize.  Energy comes first.  We can be free of foreign oil in 10 years if we invest.  Then health care.  Then education.  Big company tax cuts can’t be allowed.


McCain:  we will have to eliminate some gov’t agencies and programs.  Defense spending is one area.  Earmarked projects must be scrutinized.  Recommend spending freeze in most agencies.

Obama will increase taxes on small businesses & this will cost jobs in our most innovative sector.  I will double tax exemptions for children.

Obama:  Washington must lead by balancing the budget.  Tax cuts for the rich cannot be allowed because it’s not fair to the middle class.  No spending freeze, considered cuts.

Future Unfunded Obligations

Obama:  I will give tax cuts to everyone earning < $200K.  Most small businesses meet this & will get a health care tax credit too.  McCain wants to give $200B tax cut to big comps & 100B to wealthy.

McCain:  it won’t be hard to fix SS.  The fix is to work together.  Medicare is tougher.  We need a commission of experts to make recommendations and Congress simply votes on them.  Obama hasn’t delivered on tax reductions but I have.

Environmental Issues

McCain:  I’ve proposed legislation to fight  pollution.  Nuke power is the way – safe and clean.  Spent fuel can be handled.  Initial fed investment, then turn over to public sector.  Drilling now is essential as a bridge supply of energy.

Obama:  a new energy economy would create 5M jobs.  McCain consistently votes against alternative fuels.  We need an investment in new energy tech, including nuclear.

Health Care

Obama: investing in prevention and reducing overhead will reduce cost.  Federal employee insurance will be available to all w/o pre-existing condition clauses.  McCain will tax employer’s health care contributions.  Federal oversight is needed to ensure people get consistent health care.

McCain:  Obama will penalize people who don’t want to participate in his system.  Under my plan 95% of people will have more money to spend on health care.  We need choice not mandates.

World’s Policeman

McCain:  a strong military requires a strong economy.  The U.S. is the greatest force for good in the world. 

We were and are obligated to stay in Iraq; Obama would have lost that war.  We should act when we can, but we have to know when we can’t impact the situation, not like Somalia and Lebanon.

Obama:  I don’t understand how we invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.  That’s been costly to us, over $1T if McCain gets his way.  We need that money here.

Humanitarian crises put a moral obligation on us to act, if we have the ability.

Pakistani Borders

Obama:  Iraq war has jeopardized Afghanistan.  That’s the central front of terrorism.  Need to expand non-military aid and force Pakistan to pressure terrorists.

McCain:  Talking about going into Pakistan turns them against us. Leaving Afghanistan in 1980s was a mistake.  Need to help people in the region and turn them against Taliban and al Qaeda.


Obama:  Iraqis must take responsibility for their country.  We need troops in Afghanistan.  Karzai must do better at the grass roots level.

McCain:  must work more closely with the Pakistanis.  Petraeus’ strategy will work in Afghanistan – secure and hold.  Get peoples’ lives back to normal.


McCain:  Russia isn’t behaving.  Putin is KGB thru and thru.  Ukraine is next in his sights.  We need to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO and penalize Russia.  It’s in our interests to protect Georgia and Ukraine.  We must defend our interests.

Obama:  Russia will be important.  We need provide financial assistance to rebuild their economies.  Georgia situation was unsustainable before the invasion.  We should have anticipated what happened.  To deal with them we must deal with our own energy problems.

Russia isn’t the old USSR but their national behavior is dangerous.


McCain: we could not wait for U.N. security council before responding to an attack on Israel.  Iran’s nukes will lead to trouble in the Middle East.  Hopefully we can change their desire to acquire them.

Obama:  Iran cannot be allowed to have nukes, both because of Israel and because terrorists might acquire them.  No military options are off the table. 

Better energy policy at home puts financial pressure on Iran.  We should have direct talks with friends and enemies.  Iran and North Korean went the wrong way during isolation.

What Don’t You Know?

Obama:  Presidency is about the unknown challenges.  I was able to succeed because I grew up in America.  Will we pass that opportunity on?  We need fundamental change to ensure we do.

McCain:  What’s going to happen at home and abroad.  I’ve spend my whole life serving America.  I’ve fought to keep hope during difficult times and know what it’s like to struggle.  The great honor of my life has been to put my country first.

Much as it hurts, once again I thought the Democratic candidate won the debate tonight. 

On taxes and health care, McCain’s policies aren’t really making sense, as in how we’re supposed to balance a federal budget at the same time we’re cutting taxes.  I’m all for lower taxes, but it’s essential that we balance the federal budget and keep it balanced.  It’s not going to work if we’re reducing the revenue side.

Obama successfully invokes the failed Republican policies that led us out of Afghanistan and into Iraq.  After that it’s easy for him to coast, being ahead on points.  Both candidates know what has to be done in Afghanistan.  The question is, which can deliver against a Democratic Congress?

Both candidates also recognize the importance of a sound energy policy.  Obama was surprisingly direct on this point and put the issue in context when he said twice that our success in that area will lead to increased leverage over rogue states like Russian and Iran.

Finally, it’s obvious that neither candidate knows what to do with our current financial crisis.  McCain recognizes that it’s fundamentally a mental issue, one of confidence.  That’s what debt-financing is, optimism about the future.  That’s gone now.

But McCain’s call for the govt’ to buy all the bad home loans and re-pegging mortgages to the value of homes is insane.  That’s a massive giveaway that is simply that – tax money that would be spent without hope of recovery.  Homeowners made bad decisions; removing the penalty for them simply encourages them to do it again.

Obama’s insistence that deregulation causes the problem and that it’s McCain’s fault is equally incorrect.  Deregulation was an issue with bi-partisan support, including many Democrats in Congress today. 

Homeowners and investment bankers making bad fiscal decisions has little or nothing to do with regulation, it has to do with greed and competency.  What regulatory power can stymie the former and bolster the latter? 

If anything Obama has this issue backwards because it’s the absence of consequences that encouraged individuals and banks to take more risk.  That’s what government protection does – increases risk-taking.  Furthermore, the sub-prime lending mess was created in large part by politically correct mandates on the part of government that encouraged and even forced lenders to give loans to people who had no business asking for or taking them. 

In summary, I thought Obama made his case better, in part because it was an easier case to make.  He’s got the election sown up now unless he makes a Clayton Williams-like gaffe in the last few weeks.  And that’s not going to happen.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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