|Senator John McCain's position
|Senator Barack Obama's position
|Why It Matters
|Voted against Medicare Part D
|Wants to expand government's role in health care
|Medicare is headed toward imminent financial disaster, and if action isn't taken under the next President, the system is going to threaten the entire Federal budget. Part D (the prescription-drug program) represented a huge expansion of Medicare without an associated means of paying for it.
|Social Security reform
|Has backed private accounts as a means of taking some liabilities off the Federal ledger
|"Forcefully" opposes private accounts for Social Security
|Social Security, like Medicare, is actuarially unsound in the long term. Young workers need the option to be able to invest in private accounts with some of their payroll taxes.
|Voted in favor of CAFTA and advocates expansion of trade
|Voted against CAFTA and wants to revise NAFTA
|Free trade is essential to the long-term health of the US economy, as well as the world economy. Trade-restrictive policies made the Great Depression worse, and represent a net loss to the consumer.
|Acknowledges the urgent need for entitlement reform to balance the budget, but has not made precise plans to do so
|Has specifically avoided any promised to balance the budget
|Would likely have to fight a Democratic Congress to achieve any meaningful reforms, but divided government would tend to put the brakes on any new expansion of spending
|Would quite likely enjoy a Democratic majority in each house of Congress as President and would thus not face much opposition political pressure to make difficult choices about the budget (as was the case for the Clinton White House with the Republican Congress after 1994, which was the only time in recent history during which the United States had a balanced budget