How the candidates compare on issues

THE ECONOMY: McCain: Reduce the federal corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and raise the federal personal exemption for each dependent from $3,500 to $7,000. Advocates a one-year pause in growth in federal discretionary spending. Ob...


McCain: Reduce the federal corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and raise the federal personal exemption for each dependent from $3,500 to $7,000. Advocates a one-year pause in growth in federal discretionary spending.

Obama: Inject $75 billion into the economy through tax cuts and spending. Workers and their families would receive an immediate $250 tax cut, and seniors would get a temporary $250 bonus in their Social Security checks. Also, reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.


McCain: Backs a system allowing families to use employer-based coverage, or receive tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Opposes federally mandated universal coverage, however.


Obama: Allow individuals to choose between a new public insurance program or from among private insurance plans that meet certain coverage standards. Employers who do not provide health coverage for employees would have to pay into the national program, which would feature guaranteed eligibility and cover all essential medical services, including maternity and mental health care.


McCain: Voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and for its reauthorization in 2006. Would set up a newcivilian/military agency patterned on the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Would close the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama: Voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Would require U.S. chemical plants to enhance security, and wants guidelines for tracking and controlling spent fuel at U.S. nuclear power plants, and improved protection of drinking water supplies. Would close Guantanamo Bay.


McCain: "Strongly supports" the deployment of missile defense systems against "rogue regimes" such as North Korea with intercontinental ballistic missiles, and "outlaw states" such as Iran that threaten American forces and allies. Also would enlarge the size of the U.S. armed forces, saying that "for too long, we have asked too much of too few."

Obama: Stop the development of new nuclear weapons and seek large reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles. Increase the size of U.S. ground forces by 65,000 Army soldiers and 27,000 Marines.



McCain: "Strongly disagrees" with removing American troops before Iraqi forces can "safeguard their own country." Syria and Iran have "aided and abetted the violence in Iraq" and the international community must apply "real pressure" to change their behavior. Voted for use of military force and supported Bush veto of a war-spending bill that would have withdrawn most U.S. troops by last March.

Obama: Would "immediately" begin removing U.S. troops; all combat brigades would be out within 16 months. Start an aggressive diplomatic effort focused on stability in Iraq and the Middle East. Include The effort would include Iran and Syria in the effort. Voted for war spending bill that would have withdrawn most U.S. troops by March 2008.


McCain: Bush's No Child Left Behind law has "focused our attention" on how students perform against a common standard. Schools should compete for the most "effective, character-building teachers," and if a school "will not change, the students should be able to change schools."

Obama: No Child Left Behind has been hampered by "unfulfilled funding promises." Obama's "Zero to Five" childhood education plan would emphasize early care and education to get children ready for kindergarten.


McCain: Backs a mandatory cap-and-trade mechanism covering electric power, transportation fuels and businesses -- which together are responsible for nearly 90 percent of all emissions. Small businesses would be exempt.

Obama: Supports a mandatory cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Would provide $150 billion over 10 years for clean energy.



McCain: Suspend the18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Obama: Double vehicle fuel economy standards within 18 years. Require 25 percent of American electricity to be derived from renewable sources by 2025.


McCain: Co-sponsored Bush's immigration reform legislation, which would have provided a legal path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Also supported a 700-mile border fence through parts of California, Arizona and Texas.

Obama: Wants additional personnel and technology on the U.S. border. Backed the 700-mile fence and the Bush immigration reform legislation.


McCain: A new HOME Plan would give "every deserving ... homeowner" the opportunity to trade a "burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan." Eligibility would go to holders of non-conventional mortgages taken after 2005 who live in their homes.


Obama: Create a universal mortgage credit for homeowners who do not itemize. The credit would provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, most of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.


McCain: The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

Obama: Opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

What To Read Next
Get Local