Tuition costs are on the rise. Each year, a growing number of graduates are faced with the reality of having to pay back college loans. Out of control college costs and tough economic times have trigged record-high voter turnouts in primary contests and caucuses—especially among students and the formerly “politically apathetic.”
Barack Obama has been able to captivate young people with his celebrity-like appeal. John McCain has fought back with his experience in foreign policy. And with the November election just weeks away, voters are more concerned than ever about how the presidential hopefuls will alleviate the strain on their wallets.
Students and their parents are struggling to pay rising tuition costs. McCain stresses the importance of retaining good teachers, and finding other professions for less-qualified teachers. He wants to increase funding for virtual schools, online courses, and tutoring services.
Obama proposes scholarships for teacher education, as well as mentoring programs. He advocates an annual American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $4,000 to help cover tuitions at public colleges and universities. He wants to make community colleges free for most students and simplify the financial aid application process. He would expand the Pell Grant and lower interest rates on federal student loans.
McCain would rather supplement Social Security benefits with individual investment accounts than increase taxes.
Obama wants more taxes, increasing the amount workers who make $250,000 or more pay into the system. He opposes privatizing Social Security and supports increasing the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll tax, which currently applies only to the first $97,500 a worker earns.
McCain’s plans favor wealthy taxpayers and corporate America. Under Obama’s proposals, those who earn less profit more.
McCain wants to maintain the Bush Administration’s tax rates on dividends, capital gains, current income, and investment. He says he will permanently withdraw the alternative minimum tax, which originally targeted the very wealthy but has been gradually extended to middle-class families. He will also reduce corporate and estate taxes, and almost double the child-care tax credit.
Obama wants to let many of Bush’s tax cuts expire. Tax increases on families earning more than $250,000 a year will provide tax cuts for lower and middle-income households. He proposes increasing the 15% capital gains tax rate, excluding taxes on start-ups and small businesses.
While McCain’s plans to revamp health care fall on individual efforts, Obama’s proposals rely on market forces, government intervention, and mandates to cut costs.
McCain’s plans won’t mandate that everyone have health insurance, but tax incentives will be offered to those who purchase it. He wants to create a federally subsidized state program for greater coverage of low-income people. He will allow people to purchase insurance plans from different states to enhance competitive pricing.
Obama encourages more government spending for universal health insurance. He wants to provide an income-based federal subsidy and a network of public and private health insurance plans for people who don’t get help from their employers or qualify for Medicaid. Employers will be required to curb employee costs, or contribute to a national health care system. Individuals below age 25 will be covered through their parents’ plans.
McCain is appealing to high-income taxpayers, who will benefit more than anyone else in tax breaks. His must convince the American public that he, as a Republican, is not to blame for our nation’s current economic hardships.
Critics slam Obama for his relative lack of experience in the political arena; they say his rhetoric is full of promises, that he won’t be able to deliver. He has been labeled as being too far left. Free-market critics see him as an obstructive force to corporate America and market growth.
Diana Clark, a 23-year-old registered independent and a senior at San Francisco State University says, “Status on abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry isn’t going to change gas prices or create jobs. I feel Obama has more empathy for the struggling student.”
Matthew Dvorin, a recent graduate of Temple University and also a registered independent, plans on handing his vote to McCain, “I don’t want to see Obama take my father’s hard-earned income and investments.”
However you cast your ballot, we all share a common thread: Young voters want a candidate who exudes hope, an understanding of our plight, and a concrete plan. We don’t want politics draining our bank accounts.