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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M infielder Trinity Cannon (6) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Friday, May 24, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

All Things Reconsidered | Different shades of blue

Barack Obama had his chance to shut Hillary Clinton out of the race by winning the Texas and Ohio primaries, as well as the Texas caucus, but he only managed to win the Texas caucus. He will probably finish ahead in terms of elected delegates, but Clinton could persuade the 796 superdelegates that the verdict of the first trials were unfair. She could say that Florida broke the party’s rules by holding an early primary, or that the caucus was unfair because her working-class following could not get off their night-shifts, or the elderly couldn’t leave their houses to attend long caucus meetings like the younger Obama supporters could. If the superdelegates take the bait, this could push her beyond the 2,025 target. The winner is still up in the air.
Before Obama and Clinton fans get too emotionally involved in their candidates’ victory or loss, they should know the differences between Clinton and Obama are few. In fact, David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, explained the dynamics between the two candidates best: when you strip away all the eloquence and verbiage in Obama’s speech, you’re basically left with a shorter version of Clinton’s. They are big government junkies (a title Clinton gave herself) who want the federal government to baby us from the cradle to the grave.
Economic policy between the Democratics is one of the few differences. Usually, Democrats have very similar economic ideals, believing more utility comes through the government than the market. Clinton is no exception. But if you look at Obama’s choice of economics adviser, a different story emerges.
Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s economic adviser, teaches at the University of Chicago. It is known for being economically conservative and for economic leaders such as Milton Friedman. Goolsbee has a distinctly market-favored approach to economics, one that could possibly have down-to-earth practicality. The economist points out that “Mr. Obama seems to approach economic questions with a keen intellect, an open mind and an aversion to radicalism,” and Goolsbee has a supersimplified tax plan that would save millions of people from struggling to file tax returns – something some Republicans have attempted to accomplish for decades.
In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama proved he understands that placing a tariff on steel imports may provide some temporary relief to steel manufacturers, but would hurt every industry in America who uses steel for manufacturing, making them less competitive. This might reassure some economic conservatives.
Many conservatives are afraid Obama will raise taxes, Obama says he would cut taxes for the middle-class and would only hike the top rate of income tax from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. He would pay for his hand-out programs from the money saved by pulling out of Iraq, reducing adventures abroad, which costs trillions of dollars. Despite this, we should remember, as realclearpolitics.com pointed out, Obama is still a Democrat.
Health care is another noticeable difference between Obama and Clinton. They seek universal health care coverage, but Clinton prefers an individual mandate (requiring every American to purchase insurance) and Obama does not. Michael Tanner points out in a recent column in the National Review that this means Obama correctly recognizes the key element in health care is not coverage, as Clinton believes, but cost. Clinton believes an individual mandate is the only way to guarantee universal coverage. Instead, Obama said, “The reason people don’t have health insurance is not because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it,” and would focus on both cost cutting and subsidies to reduce the price of insurance. He is “[encouraging] greater use of generic drugs, [promoting] the use of electronic medical records, [emphasizing] prevention and [providing] incentives for more integrated medicine.” By focusing on cost, Obama is treating the illness rather than the symptoms.
Obama’s health care plan, though more market oriented, still lacks healthy competition. Tanner said Obama “would impose caps on insurance premiums and price controls on drug companies. He would have the government establish national practice standards for doctors. And, he would create a National Health Insurance Exchange as a sort of clearinghouse to make it easier for businesses and individuals to shop for the best insurance.” This sounds more like an everyday, common Democrat.
The war in Iraq is worth taking a look at. Each candidate spends a great deal of timing decrying how weak the other candidate’s opposition to the war is. They would like us to believe there is a difference between the two when, in reality, there is not.
Obama routinely refers to Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution in 2002, making her genuineness against the war hard to swallow. Many Democrats, anti-war Republicans and Libertarians believe Obama is the bigger opponent to the war and other unnecessary adventures and entanglements abroad that President George W. Bush has gone into. Though Clinton claims to be against the war, many believe Obama takes a harder line against it because he did not vote for the Iraq war resolution as senator.
However, Obama did not vote for the war, but he didn’t vote against it either because he wasn’t in the Senate until 2005. The Clinton campaign uses this as ammunition by citing in a New York Times interview in 2004 that said, “When asked about Senators Kerry and Edwards’ votes on the Iraq War, Obama said, ‘I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘What would I have done? I don’t know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.’?”
Much of this is political claptrap, but is Obama really more anti-Iraq war than Clinton, or vice versa? Looking at voting records doesn’t seem to distinguish the two candidates. “ABC News” reported that Obama’s voting record on Iraq is almost identical to Clinton’s. “Over the two years Obama has been in the Senate, the only Iraq-related vote on which they differed was the confirmation earlier this year of General George Casey to be chief of staff of the Army,” and Obama admitted in an interview with George Stephanopoulos “his position on the war is not the ‘polar opposite’ of Clinton’s.”
The few differences that do exist between the candidates probably are not worth getting too upset about when one or the other wins. Though Obama seems to have a little more practicality, he grabs much of his support merely by his eloquent words and inspiring speeches and his talk of change that appeals to students who have no past ties to the old Democratic machine. When you get past the speeches and fluff, you end up with very similar candidates pushing for very similar ideals for a very similar purpose.
Wes Kimbell is a senior international studies major.

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