Profile: Barack Obama

January 3, 2008 6:32:42 PM PST
Political profile of candidate Barack ObamaBARACK OBAMA, Democrat
Senator from Illinois
Age 46

EXPERIENCE: Senator since 2005; Illinois State senator, 1997-2004; constitutional law professor, University of Chicago.

EDUCATION: Law degree, Harvard University; bachelor's degree in political science, Columbia University.

FAMILY: Wife, Michelle; two daughters.

THE ISSUES:

    ABORTION:
  • Favors abortion rights.

  • EDUCATION:
  • Wants to encourage but not require universal pre-kindergarten programs, expand teacher mentoring programs, and reward teachers with higher pay not tied to standardized test scores.
  • This $18 billion plan would be paid for in part by delaying elements of moon and Mars missions.
  • Supports changing No Child Left Behind "so that we're not just teaching to a test and crowding out programs like art and music."
  • Supports tax credits to pay up to $4,000 of college expenses for students who perform 100 hours of community service a year.

  • GAY MARRIAGE:
  • Supports recognition of same-sex civil unions short of marriage.
  • Would let states decide on same-sex marriage.
  • Opposes constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

  • GLOBAL WARMING:
  • Supports 10-year, $150 billion program to produce "climate friendly" energy supplies.
  • He'd pay for that plan with a carbon auction requiring businesses to bid competitively for the right to pollute.
  • Joined Sen. McCain in sponsoring legislation that would set mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and increase costs to consumers.
  • Supports tougher fuel efficiency standards.
  • Has goal of cutting greenhouse pollution 20 percent by 2020.

  • GUN CONTROL:
  • Voted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to suit.
  • As Illinois state lawmaker, he supported ban on all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms.

  • HEALTH INSURANCE:
  • Supports mandatory coverage for children.
  • Aims for universal coverage by requiring employers to share costs of insuring workers and by offering coverage similar to that in plan for federal employees.
  • Says package would cost up to $65 billion a year after unspecified savings from making system more efficient. Would raise taxes on wealthier families to pay the cost.

  • IMMIGRATION:
  • Voted for the 2006 immigration bill that would have provided conditional path to citizenship and supported border fence.

  • IRAQ:
  • Wants "Our combat troops out within 16 months."

  • SOCIAL SECURITY:
  • Proposes raising cap with an unspecified "small adjustment" that would subject a portion of higher incomes to Social Security taxes.

  • TAXES:
  • Would let some of Bush's tax cuts expire in 2010 as scheduled, in effect raising taxes on wealthier people to help pay for programs.
  • Favors about $80 billion in tax breaks mainly for low-income workers and the elderly.
  • That includes a tax credit worth up to $500 a person to offset payroll taxes as well as elimination of tax-filing requirement for older workers making under $50,000.
  • Supports a mortgage-interest credit that could be used by lower-income homeowners who do not take the mortgage interest deduction because they do not itemize their taxes.
  • Wants to raise corporate taxes and the top rate on capital gains and dividends to pay for the cuts.
STANDINGS:
  • Had 32 percent support in Dec. 31st Des Moines Register Iowa Poll.

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