In the face of a financial Armageddon, the economy has become the center of the campaign, where it should have been all along. But the moment all Americans have been waiting for â€” the McCain-Obama debate â€” was a yawn.
The melodrama and histrionics of whether the debate would even happen both titillated anxious taxpayers hoping for a financial recovery and stirred our worst fears about how the $700 billion bailout rescue package for Wall Street could drown those of us residing on Main Street.
But if you were hoping the debate would be a clash of the Titans on this issue, we got, instead, a clash of ideologies and temperaments, along with a visual clash â€” a young African American outsider challenger and an old white-haired fixture of government.
Neither candidate addressed how a failing economy hurts the GLBTQ community, though no one was expecting them to. But neither had a taxpayer-friendly solution to Wall Streetâ€™s mess. Instead, both sharply criticized the otherâ€™s record on restoring our countryâ€™s economic health.
So letâ€™s take a look:
Obama emphatically says that working Americans need help in this economy, and, if in office, his administration will develop â€œa more stable and permanent solutionâ€ to the financial crisis.
â€œWhat weâ€™re looking at right now is to provide the Treasury and the Federal Reserve with as broad authority as necessary to stabilize markets and maintain credit,â€ Obama told the Associate Press. â€œWe need a more institutional response to create a system that can manage some of the underlying problems with bad mortgages, help homeowners stay in their homes, protect the retirement and savings of working Americans.â€
But when asked to present a detailed economic plan, Obama said he would not present his plan until the Treasury and Federal Reserve have presented theirs.
â€œIt is critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling, and that leaders in both parties work in concert to solve the problem at hand,â€ he said.
Whereas Obama has a â€œNot-telling-you yetâ€ rescue package for the economy, McCain counters with his â€œBlame-Obamaâ€ package, by suggesting that Democrats are to blame since they did not take immediate action to stop the current financial meltdown.
â€œThe crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and [Obama] was square in the middle of it,â€ said McCain, who then criticized Obama for his ties to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and for taking large campaign contributions from both, collecting a sizable sum $126,349 from those sources. (This is second to his buddy, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, who has received $165,400, and to the former head of Obamaâ€™s vice presidential search team, Jim Johnson, who received a multi-million-dollar severance deal after stepping down as Fannie Mae CEO.)
â€œMaybe just this once he could spare us the lectures, and admit to his own poor judgment in contributing to these problems,â€ McCain said.
During the debate McCain tried to show the American electorate that Obama is just not ready for the job.Â And he drilled in his point, repeatedly: â€œIâ€™m afraid Senator Obama doesnâ€™t understand,â€ said McCain, and â€œWhat Senator Obama doesnâ€™t seem to understandâ€ and â€œSenator Obama still doesnâ€™t understand.â€
Obama is for tax increases on people making over $250,000 a year and cutting taxes on the middle class.
However, when asked two days after his debate with Obama if he would support a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package McCain said on â€œThis Week with George Stephanopoulos,â€ â€œHopefully, yes. This is something that all of us will swallow hard and go forward with. The option of doing nothing is simply not an acceptable option.â€
But truth be told, neither candidate, in my opinion, knows how to patch Wall Streetâ€™s mess. And we Main Street residents have cause to fret about failing banks jeopardizing Social Security, Medicare, and the few dollars and cents that trickle down to our social programs. For example, aside from what I expect will be massive cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention programs, our Medicare and Social Security benefits will be slashed disproportionately more than the rest of the population, if we are partnered/ married, simply because we are GLBTQ taxpayers.
With only two states recognizing same-sex marriage, we not only are forced to file separate income tax forms but we also, as a consequence, get thrown into higher tax brackets. And to add insult to injury, our social security benefit packages wonâ€™t benefit our same-sex partners.
All of us hope for a speedy solution to our countryâ€™s financial crisis. But how about we wait for one that takes into account the way all its taxpayers share households, including its GLBTQ partnered and married citizens.
Published October 2, 2008 on The Bilerico Project and New England Blade.