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Election Cheat Sheet

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If you're still undecided on the election, time's a tickin' and you've only got hours left to make up your mind. To help you out, here's where Barack Obama and John McCain stand on the issues that matter most to moms, in alphabetical order.

John McCain and Barack Obama


McCain: Opposes abortion rights. Has voted for abortion restrictions permissible under Roe v. Wade, and now says he would seek to overturn that guarantee of abortion rights. Would not seek constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Obama: Favors abortion rights.


McCain: Favors unspecified boost in U.S. forces.

Obama: Would add about 7,000 troops to the U.S. force of 36,000, bringing the reinforcements from Iraq. Has threatened unilateral attack on high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan as they become exposed, "if Pakistan cannot or will not act" against them.


McCain: The co-author of McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is running his general campaign with public money and within its spending limits. He urged Obama to do the same. He applied for federal matching funds for primaries but later turned them down so he could spend more than the limits. The Federal Election Commission belatedly approved his decision to bypass the primary funds, but rejected McCain's claim that he needed no such approval. He raised more than $160 million before having to stop to accept the $84 million in public money for the fall. McCain accepted primary campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Obama: The presidential campaign's fundraising champion has brought in more than $605 million. He is raising private money for his general election, despite his proposal last year to accept public financing and its spending limits if the Republican nominee did, too. He raised a record-shattering $150 million in September. Obama refuses to accept money from federal lobbyists and has instructed the Democratic National Committee to do the same for its joint victory fund, an account that would benefit the nominee. Obama does accept money from state lobbyists and from family members of federal lobbyists.


McCain: Ease restrictions on Cuba once U.S. is "confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made."

Obama: Ease restrictions on family-related travel and on money Cuban-Americans want to send to their families in Cuba. Open to meeting new Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions. Ease trade embargo if Havana "begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change."


McCain: Has supported expansion of the federal death penalty and limits on appeals.

Obama: Supports death penalty for crimes for which the "community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage." As Illinois lawmaker, wrote bill mandating videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases and sought other changes in system that had produced wrongful convictions.


McCain: He is not proposing a federal voucher program that would provide public money for private school tuition, in contrast to his proposed $5 billion voucher plan in 2000. Only proposes expansion of District of Columbia's voucher program. Sees No Child Left Behind law as vehicle for increasing opportunities for parents to choose schools. Proposes more money for community college education.

Obama: An $18 billion plan that would encourage, but not mandate, universal pre-kindergarten. Teacher pay raises tied to, although not based solely on, test scores. An overhaul of No Child Left Behind law to better measure student progress, make more room for subjects such as music and art and be less punitive toward failing schools. A tax credit to pay up to $4,000 of college costs for students who perform 100 hours of community service a year. Obama would pay for part of his plan by ending corporate tax deductions for CEO pay. Has backed away from his proposal to save money by delaying NASA's moon and Mars missions.


McCain: Favors increased offshore drilling and building 45 nuclear power reactors by 2030. Opposes drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, using a market-based cap-and-trade system that would increase energy costs. Supports $2 billion program to develop carbon capture and other clean coal research and development. $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of zero carbon emission cars; $300 million prize for improved batteries for hybrid vehicles. Broke with President Bush on global warming and led Senate effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama: Ten-year, $150 billion fund for biofuels, wind, solar, plug-in hybrids, clean-coal technology and other "climate-friendly" measures. Mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, using a market-based, cap-and-trade system that would increase energy costs. Increase federal fuel economy requirements from 35 mpg to 40 mpg. Would consider limited expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling. Opposes drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Proposes windfall-profits tax on largest oil companies to pay for energy rebate of up to $1,000. Expand federal requirements for ethanol from 36 million gallons to 60 million gallons a year with increase coming from non-corn sources, and require utilities to produce 25 percent of power from renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025. $7,000 tax credit for the purchase of advance-technology vehicles; put 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on road by 2015.


McCain: $300 billion plan for the government to buy bad mortgages and renegotiate them at a reduced price. Proposes a one-year suspension of requirements that people aged 70 1/2 begin cashing in retirement accounts. Lobbied fellow lawmakers to support $700 billion rescue plan. Eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits, guarantee 100 percent of savings for six months, lower the tax rate on retirement funds to 10 percent, on the first $50,000 withdrawn. Cut the tax rate on capital gains by half, to 7.5 percent, for two years.

Obama: Two-year plan offering $3,000 tax credit to businesses for each new job created and enabling people to withdraw up to 15 percent of their retirement money, to a maximum of $10,000, without penalty, except for the usual taxes. Would temporarily extend an expiring tax break that lets small businesses immediately write off investments of up to $250,000, and sweeten small-business loans at a cost of about $5 billion. Estimated cost of proposals: $60 billion. Now favors mandatory 90-day freeze on some foreclosures. Lobbied fellow lawmakers to support $700 billion rescue plan. Extend unemployment benefits, offer tax credit covering 10 percent of annual mortgage-interest payments for "struggling homeowners."


McCain: Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Says same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into legal agreements for insurance and similar benefits, and states should decide about marriage. Supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.

Obama: Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Supports civil unions, says states should decide about marriage. Switched positions in 2004 and now supports repeal of Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.


McCain: Voted against ban on assault-type weapons but in favor of requiring background checks at gun shows. Voted to shield gun-makers and dealers from civil suits. "I believe the Second Amendment ought to be preserved -- which means no gun control."

Obama: Voted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to suit. Also, as Illinois state lawmaker, supported ban on all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms.


McCain: $2,500 refundable tax credit for individuals, $5,000 for families, to make health insurance more affordable. No mandate for universal coverage. Would no longer shield from income taxes those payments that businesses and their workers make toward employer-sponsored health insurance. Tax Policy Center estimates overall plan's cost at $1.3 trillion over 10 years.

Obama: Mandatory coverage for children, no mandate for adults. Aim for universal coverage by requiring larger employers to share costs of insuring workers and by offering coverage similar to that in plan for federal employees. Proposes spending $50 billion on information technology over five years to reduce health care costs over time. Tax Policy Center estimates overall plan's cost at $1.6 trillion over 10 years.


McCain: Sponsored 2006 bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S., work and apply to become legal residents after learning English, paying fines and back taxes and clearing a background check. Now says he would secure the border first. Supports border fence.

Obama: Voted for 2006 bill offering legal status to illegal immigrants subject to conditions, including English proficiency and payment of back taxes and fines. Voted for border fence.


McCain: Favors tougher sanctions, opposes direct high-level talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Obama: Initially said he would meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions, now says he's not sure "Ahmadinejad is the right person to meet with right now." But says direct diplomacy with Iranian leaders would give U.S. more credibility to press for tougher international sanctions. Says he would intensify diplomatic pressure on Tehran before Israel feels the need to take unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.


McCain: Opposes scheduling a troop withdrawal, saying latest strategy is succeeding. Supported decision to go to war, but was an early critic of the manner in which administration prosecuted it. Was a key backer of the troop increase. Willing to have permanent U.S. peacekeeping forces in Iraq.

Obama: Spoke against war at start, opposed troop increase. Voted against one major military spending bill in May 2007; otherwise voted in favor of money to support the war. Says his plan would complete withdrawal of combat troops in 16 months. Initially had said a timetable for completing withdrawal would be irresponsible without knowing what facts he'd face in office.


McCain: "Nothing's off the table" when it comes to saving Social Security.

Obama: Would raise payroll tax on wealthiest by applying it to portion of income over $250,000. Now, payroll tax is applied to income up to $102,000. Rules out raising the retirement age for benefits.


McCain: Supports relaxing federal restrictions on financing of embryonic stem cell research.

Obama: Supports relaxing federal restrictions on financing of embryonic stem cell research.


McCain: Proposes extending all of President Bush's tax cuts and cutting corporate tax rate to 25%. Pledged not to raise taxes, then equivocated, saying nothing can be ruled out in negotiating compromises to keep Social Security solvent. Twice opposed Bush's tax cuts, at first because he said they were tilted to the wealthiest and again because of the unknown costs of Iraq war. Now says those tax cuts, expiring in 2010, should be permanent. Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates tax break of $325 for the middle 20 percent of taxpayers -- those making $37,600 to $66,400.

Obama: Raise income taxes on families making over $250,000 and individuals making over $200,000. Raise corporate taxes. $80 billion in tax breaks mainly for poor workers and elderly, including tripling Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credit for larger families. Eliminate tax-filing requirement for older workers making under $50,000. A mortgage-interest credit could be used by lower-income homeowners who do not take the mortgage-interest deduction because they do not itemize their taxes. Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates tax break of $1,118 for the middle 20 percent of taxpayers -- those making $37,600 to $66,400.


McCain: Free trade advocate.

Obama: Seek to reopen North American Free Trade Agreement to strengthen enforcement of labor and environmental standards. In 2004 Senate campaign, called for "enforcing existing trade agreements," not amending them.

Courtesy: Associated Press

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19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kalisha @ Mommy Lounge November 3, 2008, 6:55 PM

What a great “cheat sheet”! This really helps me to see it a little more clearly. Thanks for the article—I want to share it with my readers also.
Happy Voting!

AmyJane November 4, 2008, 8:12 AM

Slightly biased “cheat sheet”, no? Just look at the shorter, often negative manner in which you’ve summarized McCain’s stances, as opposed to Obama’s. I’m not surprised, as this seems to be commonplace in mainstream media, too — but found it interesting enough to comment. Either way — GO VOTE!

Darlene November 4, 2008, 8:46 AM

This is a terrific summary of the two presidential candidates. I’ve followed the election (political junkie) and thought I knew their individual positions on everything. I just got back from voting and feel really good about that AND reading this! Thanks

Rose November 4, 2008, 9:13 AM

Thanks, this just confirmed my decision! Biased? Looked like facts to me. Go Vote Everyone!!

Sharon November 4, 2008, 9:26 AM

AmyJane, I agree, I thought that as well, but informative just the same.

Phyllis November 4, 2008, 10:05 AM

This is informative info. I don’t feel that facts are bias. It is what it is.

Jami November 4, 2008, 10:56 AM

This is biased info. But everyone should go out and vote. I would like to say one thing then I will let it go. If you raise the taxes on the corporations they will cut jobs. I would rather my husband have a job and pay more in taxes than to have him on unemployment. There I am done. Go Vote!!

LORA  November 4, 2008, 10:58 AM

Obviously this was a democrat who wrote this article, thank you for sharing who you are voting for and hopefully your reader will read Between the lines!

proud mom of 2 November 4, 2008, 11:23 AM

Just to add to this list, here is some more info to ponder, it really makes you think!
We all will decide on our own - but since knowledge is power, I am passing this along…A question of perspective :Obama/Biden v.s. McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?….. think about it. Would the country’s collective point of view be different? Could racism be the culprit? Ponder the following:• What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three-month-old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter? • What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?• What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?• What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?• What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?• What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married? • What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to painkillers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?• What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?• What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)• What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?• What if Obama couldn’t read from a teleprompter?• What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashi ng seven planes?• What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?• What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?• What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?• You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.Educational Background:• Barack Obama:o Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.o Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Laude• Joseph Biden:o University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.o Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)vs.• John McCain:o United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899• Sarah Palin:o Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semestero North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general studyo University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalismo Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semestero University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in JournalismEducation isn’t everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call

Leatha Basco November 4, 2008, 11:33 AM

Let’s not forget thos Obama’s running buddies are and you have to question ‘why’ is he so gunho on meeting with the Terrorist Leaders????????,,Where did all his backing money come from?????????,,People think long and hard before you vote!,,
It’s not all about ‘raising’ taxes here!

whatever November 4, 2008, 2:10 PM

Wow!!! I see you are Obama!! i think you should have been a little more fair for both as they both have good and bad! I would hope the people get more info then just yours!! Lets see the whole truth!!

Jodi November 4, 2008, 2:27 PM

Facts are facts doesn’t seem biased to me. And to proud mom of 2 I thank you for those questions, they are very though provoking.

Bmo November 4, 2008, 3:20 PM

McCains stances seem shorter and more negative because that’s how he presents them. You can’t blame the facts for that.

Lora also proud mother of 2 November 4, 2008, 3:38 PM

Back to the proud mother of 2, this is not about racism!! Mam you gave the educational background of our canidates do you really think Obama is ready for the position of leading our Great American country??? McCain has the experience!!! Only someone like you would make this an issue of color, I am so sad for you that this is how you look at our historical election. My 20 year old daughter voted for her 1st election and she is much more educated on the issues than you are. You made a copy of an email going around, do not fool yourself!!!

proud mom of 2 November 4, 2008, 10:00 PM

Lora, WOW, why are you so mad?? It was just pt here for people to think about the situation if it was turned around! I am the LEAST RACIST PERSON that you will ever meet. I am white, middle class, single working mother of 2 SONS, 25 & 21 who both voted according to their own thoughts & needs, after all, this election is more for THEIR generation and future. My job is to see that they are both educated in the world of politics and always give them other veiws to look at, so they can make THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS as I raised 2 hard working,(both working while in school f/t) intelligent, loving, vounteering, SONS who can make their own INFORMED conclusions. you are obviously useing the race card, but what is making you so angry? the truth? because if these things were done by Obama, he woudn’t even be a candidate for the presidency!! Another thing, you don’ have to worry about your daughter going to war, I’m quite sure that she didn’t have to register for the DRAFT when she turned 18, did she??? So why don’t you turn your anger into something more posivtive 9nstead of jumping on someone who you have no clue about. Oh, and I suppose that Sarah Palin is wonderful in your eyes? Well she is a disgrace to women and she DOES NOT REPRESENT ME AS A WOMEN! As far as Obama being ready to run our country, I’m not sure, but I AM SURE that he would do 100% better then Palin if she had to step in and that is what scarring the repulican voters! that is why her approval rate with women dropped 43% since the convention, because we all seen who she truley is! See, McCain tried to take the easy way and get all the women voters just because he choose Palin (whom he knew for 15 minutes according to Palin) before he chose her. Obama could have done the same by chosing Hilary to run on his ticket and he would have won hands down, but he chose to have some integrity, something McCain knows nothing about! McCain has experience all right, thats why his commander in the Air Force BANNED him from flying ever again, because and I quote “he is to irresponsible & irratatic” because he crashed 2 planes and the 3rd one he crashed landed him and the others as POW’S. He is no hero, he brought that on himself! and for the record, I highly doubt that you or your daughter are more educated in the field of politics then I……..redirect that anger of yours into something more positive & worthwhile!

proud mom of 2 November 4, 2008, 10:05 PM

p.s. I can see that McCain isn’t the only one with anger issues, must be a repblican thing! (Just a joke people)

proud mom of 2 November 4, 2008, 10:11 PM

Leatha, All his fundraising monies are from his PUBLIC supporters. These people are looked at & approved before he can use the funds, so I’m sure if they came from terrorists, it would have been sent back!! I am from NJ and this state has been one of his biggest supporters with almost 8% of hi donations comming from this state. Also Bon Jovi & Bruce Springsteen both had numerous fund raising events for him here in NJ.

proud mom of 2 November 4, 2008, 10:14 PM

oh by the way Lora, this is NOT a COPY OF AN EMAIL SENT around. I wrote this over a month ago for the BLOG I BELONG TO ON MSNBC! So if this is going around, someone is useing my words, and I did give some others WHO ASKED if they can use it permission. You can go to the MSNBC bloggers page and look me up!

culp December 11, 2010, 7:31 AM


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