Thursday, October 02, 2008

Looking Ahead To The VP Debate

At tonight's debate debate will be the only vice-presidential match-up before the election. Tonight's debate will be moderated by PBS anchor Gwen Ifill at Washington University in St. Louis.

Tonight Sarah Palin will present her conservative record and ideology to the American public in support of her running mate, John McCain. For the majority of America that do not follow politics or the news every day, this will be an introduction. For all the news Palin is still a relatively unknown figure to the American public.

Despite all the gaffs, miscues, and embarressing interviews that Sarah Palin has suffered over the past two weeks, John McCain recently said, "She's [Palin's] exactly who I need." And President Bush praised McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, calling her "a proven reformer who is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars and champion for accountability in government."

In September, Palin announced the responsibilities that John McCain will entrust to her: "Government reform, energy independence. And helping families and children, those with special needs."

John McCain has been falsely presenting Sarah Palin as a break from the disastrous policies and extreme ideology of the Bush administration. However Sarah Palin's true record in Alaska is less reformer and more opportunist, and John McCain's actual agenda actually represents more of the same failed conservativism that has given America two ongoing wars, a staggering deficit, obscene profits to Big Oil, croneyism gone amok, and a stark decline in the fortunes of the middle class.

Sarah Palin claims that she is a "hard-core fiscal conservative" who said, "Thanks, but no thanks to the Bridge to Nowhere." She claimed this right from the beginning in her introduction speech in Dayton Ohio. We now know this is a lie, one she has been willing to repeat time after time. Appearing on The View, John McCain claimed Sarah Palin didn't request any earmarks as governor of Alaska. In fact, when Palin was mayor of Wasilla she was able to obtain $27 million in earmarks through the use of lobbyists, and yet still "racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt" for the town of Wasilla. This amounts to $3,000 in debt per resident of this small town.

Calling Sarah Palin a reformer is laughable; she has demonstrated long and committed support for the Bridge to Nowhere. And Palin has requested earmarks of the very type that John McCain routinely mocks. "In her time inoffice, which is still lesss than two years, the state of Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation," according to the AP.

John McCain and Sarah Palin also misrepresent their economic plans. Senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin claims tax cuts for the wealthy "are not anywhere" in McCain's agenda. However, the Tax Policy Center writes that "McCain's tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts." They also claim they will balance the budget by the end of their first term and that no "real cuts would even be required." McCain and Palin spend so much on tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that they could eliminate ten cabinet agencies and still not balance the budget.

According to John McCain, Sarah Palin "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America." Yet Sarah Palin shows no real knowledge of alternative energy sources, and dismisses renewable energy as "far from imminent." She instead supports a conservative favorite of "drill, drill, drill." This energy platform is based on oil being plentiful, and a move towards "clean, green natural gas." Despite only proven reserves that equal just 3% of the world's reserves, Sarah Palin says that we as a nation can "drill our way" out of our energy problem. She also claims that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would produce oil in "five years," and "should help reduce price volatility." Those who don't agree, she says, "are living in La-La Land."

In reality, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has found that opening drilling in protected areas "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices."

Sarah Palin told Charlie Gibson of ABC News that her state "produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy," and told Katie Couric of CBS that "we're supplying 16, 17 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." Neither of these claims were true. In fact, Alaska produces 3.5 percent of domestic energy and only 13 percent of U.S. oil.

It has becom apparent that Sarah Palin's definition of energy does not include anything that is not oil or natural gas -- and her ideas on an energy policy seems to ignores the role of energy efficiency. Just like George W. Bush did with Dick Cheney, John McCain seems intent on putting someone in charge of energy policy who disagrees that global warming is caused by man-made emissions, even as "worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel burning and cement production increased by 3.5 percent per year from 2000 to 2007, nearly four times the growth rate in the 1990s."

John McCain and Sarah Palin's program of "quality and affordable health care for every American" calls for the elimination of "the current tax exclusion of the value of health insurance from employees' taxable compensation." A recent survey of benefits officers at large U.S. companies found that 74 percent of firms believe that a repeal of the exclusion "would have a strong negative impact on their workforce." Among those who would lose their health care are 56 million Americans with pre-existing chronic health conditions.

In particular, John McCain's health care policy will make it next to impossible for special needs children to get sufficient health care. The entire employer health insurance system could unravel, ending this as an option for Americans who prefer it. In place of employer-based health care, McCain-Palin would provide a "refundable credit amounting to $5,000 for all families and $2,500 for individuals purchasing health insurance." This credit comes up grossly short for all but the most insufficient plans -- and ignores the steady rise in health coverage costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “the total cost for family coverage now averages $12,680 a year, up 5 percent from 2007,” and $4,704 for single coverage.

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