Jobs, trade and the economy are some of the issues important to Metro Detroiters in the race for president. Listed below is a snap-shot summary of the positions of the presidential candidates on Michigan issues, including Barack Obama and John McCain's stance on free trade.
- NAFTA = North American Free Trade Agreement
- CAFTA = Central American Free Trade Agreement
- WTO= World Trade Organization
- MFN = Most Favored Nation
- Unions: Pro
- Raise minimum wage: Yes
- Gay anti-discrimination legislation: Yes (Co-sponsored legislation)
He will spur job growth by increasing education in science, math and technology; spearheading green technologies; and increasing the renewable energy sector. He will work for non-tariff barriers on U.S. exporters and expand Fund Trade Adjustment Assistance to service workers. He would invest in rural areas and communities burdened by globalization.
Fair trade. While he believes in globalization ultimately, he believes displaced U.S. workers must be addressed. He believes labor and human rights standards must be a part of trade agreements, including NAFTA and CAFTA.
Obama’s approach to the economy is aimed at practical help for the middleclass. More of a trickle-up theory of economics, Obama believes in lower taxes for the middle class, the elimination of capital-gain tax for small business, the creation of an employee tax credit for small business, and transparency and regulation in the mortgage and credit industries. He also believes in direct government investment (to the tune of $50 billion) in innovative and green technologies, as well as the country’s infrastructure; jobs will be created through these new technologies and industries.
In regard to Michigan, Obama would retool Michigan’s manufacturing facilities to produce alternative energy products, would utilize loans and tax credits to retool auto factories to produce fuel-efficient cars and provide a $7,000 tax credit to consumers who buy fuel-efficient cars. Obama supported the $25 billion loan to automakers. To prevent jobs from going overseas, Obama would create tax breaks for companies that keep their jobs and headquarters in the U.S., while eliminating tax credits to companies that move jobs overseas.
- Unions: Against. He considers them monopolies.
- Raise minimum wage: No. He supports letting states opt out of existing federal minimum wage legislation.
McCain believes that the American worker must adapt through education and skill development. He believes a dynamic economy (through lean government and open/competitive markets) can support job change. He would also overhaul the unemployment-benefit system to support job retraining.
Free trade with no tariffs or environmental standards. McCain supports admitting China to the WTO based on their concessions, but would keep his eyes open. He believes economic isolation inhibits economic growth and fans fears.
In general, McCain believes that market forces, if freed from the artificial barriers of government regulation, mandated health-care, tax and energy expense, will self correct. McCain’s trickle-down approach to the economy seeks to deregulate business, lower corporate taxes and reduce government mandates to better enable market competition. He believes that government should get out of the way of business and should reform its spending. Like Obama, he believes green technologies may be a path for the future. Rather than direct federal investment, McCain’s incentives come in the form of prizes and tax credits. He would also create a summer holiday from gas-tax.
McCain has a holistic approach to Michigan’s economic problems, believing that freeing up the business sector (including the auto companies) from government mandates, taxes and tariffs will allow American businesses to better compete globally. Instead of direct support to automakers, he would provide incentives for their transition to more fuel-efficient cars through consumer tax credits (up to $5,000 per consumer on a sliding scale of carbon emission), a research-and-development tax credit, and a $300 million prize for the first company to develop advanced battery technology. Initially reluctant to support the $25 billion loan to automakers, McCain now supports the move.