The US economy is teetering on the brink of recession. Inflation rates are sky-high. The American housing market faces one of its worst slumps ever. The US dollar is in a bad shape. Unemployment rates are on the rise. This, clearly, is not the best time to be the President of the United States.
It has never been an easy job to preside over the world’s biggest superpower. However, the current tsunami in the US economy makes the pending job even tougher for the Democrat nominee Barack Obama. Which should he choose, offshore drilling or alternative fuels? Price checks or GDP growth?
To be fair to the presidential hopeful, Obama has come up with sound economic policies to deal with rising gas prices and the tax burden on the middle-class. He has proposed to tax the windfall profits of oil companies and use the money to curb rising gas prices. He has also come up with a Robin Hood-like approach to finance a $1000 tax cut for middle class families by redistributing the tax burden to the individuals earning more than $250,000 on an annual basis. Although, Obama has come under criticism for being a populist leader, his policies indicate a certain willingness to experiment and bring in “change”, which remains the cornerstone of his campaign.
Obama has often been accused of oversimplifying matters when he talks of revamping the education system by subsidising college education and hiking staff pay. However, his plan to create five million new “green collar” jobs to develop alternative environment-friendly energy sources has been praised by economists. Although, Mr. Obama has faced flak for overspending on social issues, many of his proposals – like the one in which he makes it mandatory for people to save for retirement unless they specifically choose to opt out of the scheme – are considered beneficial in the long term.
Obama has a decent track-record of supporting centrist economic measures as a senator. In 2007, he introduced the Patriot Employer Act to provide incentives to American companies that employ a greater number of compatriots. He is also in favour of stringent laws against mortgage fraud and predatory lending-the practice of enforcing abusive loan terms on low-credit borrowers.
Doomsdayers argue that his anti-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) stance is an indicator of his aversion to globalization. However, Obama has strongly argued that he has no reservations against foreign trade, provided it does not infringe upon the job market in the United States. He has also softened his position on NAFTA in recent times by rooting for amendments in the agreement that would provide an equal footing to workers from all North American countries.
With McCain closing in on Obama with a five-point lead in the latest snap polls, the economic inclinations and decisions of both candidates are likely to have a far-reaching impact on their election prospects. Obama’s rhetoric has managed to win mass support for him, but whether Obamanomics can guarantee a ticket to the White House for the Presidential aspirant is yet to be seen.
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