Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What about the poor?

When I read personal stories by Americans who have been hit hard by the economic meltdown like this, I can't help but have a visceral reaction to this type of obscene campaign spending:

Obama, who raised a record $150million in September, has bought ads just about everywhere – even in the virtual world of Xbox video games. At 8 p.m. tomorrow, he will run a 30-minute commercial on NBC, CBS and FOX. Cost: about $3million.

I know this race is still close and, with less than a week to go, getting the message out is crucial for both candidates but what would speak more loudly? Obama yapping on teevee for half and hour or donating that $3 million to charity to help the poor?

Oh but there's a payoff if he wins, his supporters will surely tell you. He plans to lower taxes for some 95% of working families which, as Bloomberg's article points out:

The ``working'' caveat turns out to be crucial: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that, including tax filers with no wages or business income, 81 percent would get a tax cut.

Still, that sounds like good news, doesn't it? Perhaps until you try out a few examples on Obama's tax cut calculator. Let's say you're a single parent with 2 children and your adjusted gross income is $15,000. Your tax savings under Obama's plan would amount to $486.21 which, according to that site, is much more than the $18.69 you'd get under McCain. Quite the difference - but with the price of absolutely everything skyrocketing these days, how much of a difference would $486.21 make in that single parent's life? And don't they have the right to be just a little pissed off at this $3 million ad buy? And what about that $600 million Obama has spent on his campaign?

Having been a poor single parent, I can tell you exactly what it feels like to drown in financial depression while government decides to throw you a sponge as if that's some sort of a life-saving device.

I'm not letting McCain off the hook here - a man who can barely get the phrase "middle class" out of his mouth without choking on his spit. But I do expect more from a presidential candidate who calls himself a progressive and acts as if he alone will lift the struggling out of the stormy seas to stop them from perishing in this flood of financial ruin.

Sure, he has a tax plan (and don't get me started on his refusal to push for true universal health care) but, in these times when there's a global recession looming and he pledges to make more war in Afghanistan, just how much of his platform will he be able to accomplish? And if he's so focused on helping the middle class, what will happen to those who are already living below the poverty line? They seem to have been lost in all of this. Many of them have bought the "hope" and "change" messages and will cast their votes for Obama. But it seems, at this point, that's really all they have left. Frankly, it's just an insult to think that that's enough when the man they're voting for blows another $3 million to promote himself.

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