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Jul13

Getting to Know the Candidates

Obama & McCainNow that Barack Obama and John McCain are the two major parties’ choice for President of the United States, manufacturers and other business leaders have plenty of time before Election Day to get to know the candidate’s positions on issues important to them.

For example, on Obama’s website you can download an extensive report on his Energy Policy which, among other things, proposes an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and converting manufacturing centers into clean technology centers:

“Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Obama's cap-and-trade system will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100% auction ensures that all polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away to coal and oil companies. Some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to support the development of clean energy, to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and to address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition.………

Obama will establish a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and Americans learn the new skills they need to produce green products.”

On McCain’s site you can review his Economic Plan, which includes his intention to promote competitiveness and lower the corporate tax rate by 10%:

“Ninety-five percent of the world's customers lie outside our borders and we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. To do so, the U.S. should engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and build effective enforcement of global trading rules. These steps would also strengthen the U.S. dollar and help to control the rising cost of living that hurts our families.……..

John McCain believes the taxes we impose on American companies should be no higher than the average rate our major trading partners impose on theirs. We currently have the second-highest combined corporate-tax rate in the industrialized world, and it is driving many businesses and the jobs they create overseas.”

What about the VPs?

We may know what we’re getting out of Obama and McCain, but what about their prospective running mates? Throughout history vice presidents have, for the most part, had little influence on a president’s decision making. However in the last 7+ years, Dick Cheney has almost single-handedly redefined the role VPs play. Some even consider him to be a “co-president” of sorts with George W. Bush.

In 1980, GOP presidential nominee Ronald Reagan briefly pondered giving former President Gerald Ford that sort of influential role as vice president in his future administration. But the two men couldn’t work out the details, and the deal fell apart.

Several months ago on the campaign trail, Sen. McCain said that, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” That admission has led many politicos to envision someone with a strong economic background winding up as the GOP vice presidential nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. and business leader Mitt Romney (NAM President John Engler’s original choice for president in ‘08) may be the favorite right now due to the current state of the U.S. economy. Former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman has also generated a lot of buzz. Portman has recently served as director of the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Trade Representative.

Other names being floated on the right include Florida Gov. Charlie Crist who, like McCain, now favors offshore drilling; and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, once considered the most powerful woman in the business world. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, arguably THE frontrunner right now for the job, is another name to keep an eye on.

On the Democratic side, expect more of the “co-president” talk to heat up if Obama chooses Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Clinton, unlike her husband, has taken more pro-labor, anti-free trade positions. Among the other names being mentioned: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who’s recently angered some on the left with his pro-business stances and repeal of the estate tax. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is someone with whom Obama has a very good rapport. Sebelius’ popularity in her home state has caused many Republicans to jump ship for the Democratic Party.

In the end though, many politicos feel the safest thing for Obama is to shore up his national security credentials. That’s why you hear a lot about former Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni or Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, himself a former Army Ranger.

Chris Guy is co-editor of the Valve Manufacturers Assocation’s monthly e-newsletter and is the web coordinator for ValveMagazine.com and VMA.org. He also co-founded and writes for a blog about central Virginia politics.

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