Before I go on any further and talk about the Democratic candidates' policies and how they'll affect you financially, I just want to put it out there that I'm a Democrat. And I particularly like Kucinich, Obama, and Edwards and I think all of them would make great Presidents. In fact, even though this is the easy way out, all of the Democrats running would make decent leaders.
Fortunately, most of them support things like raising the minimum wage or creating a living wage. They all seem to have some form of plan for universal healthcare coverage and creating jobs for the middle-class - at least as evidenced by their campaign websites - in addition to scrapping the tax breaks for richest 1% of Americans. Or as John Edwards puts it, those Americans making over $200,000 a year. All of these are good ideas. However, I was somewhat disappointed that there weren't more questions that pertained to things like student loans, making college more affordable, and the growing bifurcation between economic classes in this country in tonight's debate.
One candidate who stands out, in my opinion, on many of these issues - despite the fact that they're not in the public eye - is John Edwards. One of the staples of his campaign has been not a war on terror, but a war on poverty. You can learn more about it at http://johnedwards.com/splash/. But I'll tell you a little bit about Edwards right here because I think he has some sound economic policies. He has outlined a plan in plenty of speeches around the country, and on his website, to eliminate dire poverty in America by 2036.
What does this mean? It means insuring every working man, woman, and child. Most of the other candidates like Hillary Clinton advocate that. But Edwards also realizes that many Americans are increasingly living paycheck to paycheck. He recognizes that the "dream of American homeownership" is slowly slipping away. So what will he do? He advocates tougher regulation on the mortgage, but particularly the subprime lending, industry. This tougher regulation is intended to prevent "unscrupulous lending practices" like lending to people who don't understand their mortgages. It also prevents usurious credit card rates and would support the formation of non-profits that offer alternatives to high-interest credit.
Edwards also supports expanding access to banks in poor neighborhoods with high concentrations of minorities. These areas/communities tend to have less conventional banking institutions and more payday loan/check-cashing facilities. These efforts are important as more people went bankrupt last year than graduated from college. Speaking of college, coming from a "modest" background, Edwards recognizes the value of a college education and how it is progressively becoming a privilege of the elite.
So, according to his website, in 2005 John Edwards implemented a "College For Everyone" program at Greene Central High School in Snow Hill, North Carolina. This program paid for the first year of tuition, books, and fees at a public state university or community college if that student agreed to work part-time. Edwards proposes implementing a similar plan for high-school seniors, but on a national scale, if elected President. The program would have guidelines similar to the Greene Central High School program. Edwards would also like to simplify the financial aid application process, make it possible for students to borrow directly from the Federal Government, put an end to government subsidization of private student loans, and increase funds apportioned for tuition to state governments.
You might say to yourself, "Well how does this affect me?" I'm already out of college and I already have a pile of student loans. But these policies will determine college affordability for our generation's children. Edwards' policies (which are eloquently outlined on his website) also aim to secure our jobs through "smarter trade policies". He recognizes that you cannot just blindly put the interests of corporations before the needs of human beings. All of these are huge steps in starting the debate over America's financial future. But the candidates need to go even further. Since these issues weren't discussed at length in the YouTube debates, over the next few posts, I will be digging into the candidates' policies to find out who has your best economic interests at heart.
Thanks for reading and until next time...