My final pitch!
A friend of mine who is still undecided asked me to tell her in an email why she should vote for Barack Obama. She's middle class with a couple of kids. She already has health care that she likes. Her husband works in the transportation industry. I guess she's that elusive undecided voter! Here's what I wrote to her:
From a purely selfish standpoint, Obama will give you a larger income tax break than McCain. Period. This link will take you to a page that will show you how much it will be. Maybe you don't trust this coming from Obama's site. But, every single independent research group has backed this up. Fundamentally, McCain wants to give a tax break to everyone. But, that means huge (average of $700,000) tax breaks for CEO type compensations and small ($300) for families making around $40,000. Obama wants to give larger ($1,000) breaks to families making $40,000 and will actually raise taxes some on people making a lot.
On healthcare, McCain's plan will actually tax some people's health care benefits. Honestly, I don't quite understand whose or how. But, if your employer is providing health care, right now you do not pay income tax on it. Under McCain, you might. McCain proposes to offset this with a $5,000 tax credit. The problem? Most people with employer provided health care are pretty happy with it. This change will cause many companies to drop health care for their employees forcing them to go out on the individual market. This is great for young, health people. It's a disaster if you're older or have just about ANY medical condition. Group rates save you money and guarantee you coverage. So, if you like your health care now, you could very well lose it under McCain. Obama's plan is to offer the federal group plan to anyone not currently covered or who chooses it. He plans to introduce efficiencies into the system that will save anyone with their own coverage money. So, if you contribute to your health care insurance now (you probably pay some monthly amount), that will go down.
I could get into more details. But, let's look at the big picture. Obama believes that a strong middle class is the key driver in our economy. Without people like you and your husband covered by health care, with good paying jobs and able to send your kids to school, America will suffer. We need people who can afford to buy products to drive our consumer economy. He has a ground-up approach to building the economy. Take care of the worker bees and they can buy the products the owners make. McCain/Bush have the philosophy that if you take care of the job creators with tax cuts, credits, breaks, etc., they can hire more workers and pay them better. This is trickle down economics. We've seen in the last 8 years that it's not working. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. Job creation is shrinking. Companies take the tax breaks and, instead of providing jobs to American workers, send the jobs overseas where it's cheaper to produce the good that they then bring back and try to sell to who? The people they laid off can't afford to buy the products anymore.
Psychologically, I think the country is ready for a change. McCain knows that which is why he switched his positioning from being the experience candidate to an agent of change. It's also why he chose Sarah Palin. Now, he's back to the experience thing again. But, the country is in a funk. A big part of our economy is psychological. If people don't have confidence they won't spend money. If they don't spend money, the companies that employ them can't sell goods. If the company can't sell goods, they lay off the workers. That's the cycle we're in right now. The only way to get out of that cycle is to improve consumer confidence. Most people are giving Obama much higher marks on the economy than John McCain. Across the board, people have more confidence in Obama when it comes to healthcare, the economy and several other issues. And, by double digit margins in polling numbers, BTW. The sole area that John McCain leads in in those polls is national security where he led by 5% in the last poll I saw. I've had many customers tell me that they just can't wait until after the election because they're looking for a "change". I really think the country is collectively holding its breath waiting for the Bush years to be over. McCain is now trying to distance himself from George Bush. But, he told Tom Brokaw this past weekend on Meet the Press that he shares the same philosophy with Bush. When he was trying to get nominated as the Republican candidate, he bragged about how often he voted with Bush. In many ways, John McCain is four more years of the same. I think Barack Obama will give the country a psychological shot in the arm.
On the world stage, the world is almost unanimously rooting for Barack Obama. Both our allies and our enemies. The reasons for this are varied and complex. Some say that since our enemies want Obama in office, they must see him as weak and want to take advantage of America (like they did with Carter). But, as Joe Biden said, he has a spine of steel. I've read his book and his policy on foreign relations. While he will never be afraid to negotiate or to talk to an enemy, he's no dummy when it comes to national defense nor is he naive enough to believe that just a "good talking to" is enough. He plans to rebuild our military which has been weakened by the two wars we've been fighting and to retool it to meet the challenges we now face which are largely dealing with guerilla groups rather than with state armies. Obama would also show the world that America is ready to elect a minority which would raise the status of the United States' in their eyes tremendously. There are people in the world who are shocked that white people would even consider voting for black man. They think America still has the racial problems they saw in the 60s. This would be a momentous occasion for the status of us. Electing a black man with a Muslim name would show the world that, in America, we put the best person in the job, not the person with the right skin color.
Lastly, (trying to keep this short), we have a chance to make history and you have a chance to be a part of that. As it's looking right now Barack Obama may be our first non-white President. If you believe he's qualified (and only if you believe he's qualified), being able to say you voted for the first African-American President might be something you are proud of in the future.
I could go on. There's temperament (did you catch the debates? Who looked more presidential?) There's judgment (McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate). There's energy policy (drill baby drill is not a strategy). There are newspaper endorsements (Obama has a 2:1 advantage over McCain)