Obama's economic policies With Senator Barack Obama closing in on the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, attention has shifted to his likely economic policy platform. He will attempt to outline sharp differences with the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, on taxes, fiscal spending, and international trade.
The current economic slowdown has created a highly discontented electorate, spurred by negative job growth, widespread foreclosures and surging energy and food prices. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 82% of respondents agreed that the country was "on the wrong track". Efforts to tilt the economic playing field in favour of working- and middle-class workers, at the expense of higher income professionals, might pay electoral dividends. Obama's lead economic adviser is Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Goolsbee, who is in his late 30s, met Obama through their shared University of Chicago network. He is a political novice on national economic policy issues, but is firmly in the capitalist US mainstream. Goolsbee has encouraged Obama to support creative solutions to economic problems:
· His key initiatives include a plan to have the federal government cover the health care costs for retirees in the auto sector, in return for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler committing to build more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles.
· He would also use government funds to invest in 'green energy', including wind and solar capacity.
· He would also allow wage earners to have the government automatically compute their federal income taxes each year, saving families billions of hours of paperwork. Obama favours fiscal discipline, in theory. Yet he might also use government spending to attack social and economic problems fairly aggressively, including through a 10 billion dollar policy package to help families avoid foreclosure on their homes. He has also resisted some populist policies, denounced proposals to temporarily repeal the 18 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax for three months during the summer 'driving season'. This was not an easy stance to take politically, as exit polls showed that most voters supported the idea on balance.