Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Election 2008: Where Obama Stands on Family Issues

I pulled this article from the site that I keep the kids baby books on (babyzone)  http://www.babyzone.com/mom_dad/photos_election_2008_Obama/1 I thought it was an interesting read considering these are a lot of the topics that were deciding factors for me.......and a lot of other people I know.

Key education, healthcare, and other family initiatives

By Jennifer Kula

Now that the campaign is over and we're looking ahead to a new era, are you wondering what President-elect Obama intents to do for your family? Check out the issues that matter most. Learn how our next president stacks up on education, health care, and family-friendly initiatives.

Education

Obama proposes a "zero to five" plan to provide support to young children and their parents with early care and education for infants. The plan calls for creating Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.

No Child Left Behind: Obama plans to improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace. He also plans to improve NCLB's accountability system to support schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

American Opportunity Tax Credit: This is designed to make college affordable by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. The universal and fully refundable credit would ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and would cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition free for most students.

In his main initiative to improve education for all Americans, the Vice President-elect wants to make 16 years of education a standard, with both pre-school and college attendance more accessible and affordable. He supports doubling the number of students in Head Start and quadrupling the number in Early Head Start. He supports tax credits toward college expenses ($3,000 for those making under $150,000 annually) and expanded federal financial aid. For the in-between years he advocates smaller classroom size and better pay for teachers.

No Child Left Behind: According to the Delaware
Senator's website, Senator Biden wants to see NCLB improved by giving schools greater flexibility in evaluating student performance and by fully funding education. President Bush has underfunded the program by $85 billion, Biden believes. In other forums, Biden has been more blunt, calling his 2001 Senate vote for the bill a mistake and saying the program ought to be "junked" and started again from scratch. "You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need to start kids earlier," he told CNN in 2007. "It's all basic."

Healthcare

Obama proposes a new national health plan available to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses. The plan includes guaranteed eligibility, meaning that no American would be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or preexisting conditions. The benefit package would be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The proposed plan would cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity, and mental health care. The plan includes affordable premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and offers subsidies to those who do not qualify for Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) but still need financial assistance.

The plan also requires that all children have healthcare coverage. Obama proposes expanding the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.

"The 21st century starts with the promise of even greater advances in healthcare and the treatment of diseases. If we take the right steps now, we will be able to live fuller and longer lives," says Biden. His priorities include expanding health insurance to cover all, starting with children. Some costs of expanded coverage could be met by getting rid of $100 billion in redundant services and administration, he says. Other reforms that he backs to improve the system would be helping medical students finance their tuition, so they would be free to pursue a career in community care or general practice without financial hardship, and refocusing the medical system on prevention and wellness to reduce catastrophic and chronic care costs.

According to an
MSNBC report on the healthcare plan Biden proposed early in the presidential primary, the Vice President-elect candidate wants to allow uninsured adults to buy in to a program like the health insurance that members of Congress and federal employees get. They would pay on a sliding scale based on their income, and small businesses would share costs with the government.

Biden has voted to maintain and protect Medicare and Medicaid and to make them more effective and efficient (including at fraud detection). He has also been a leading advocate for breast cancer prevention and detection, by voting for research funding and for legislating that reconstructive surgery be covered for survivors and that mammograms be readily available to low-income or uninsured women.

Family-Friendly Initiatives

Family and Medical Leave Act: Obama plans on expanding the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees, and to allow workers to take leave for elder care needs; to allow parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities at school; to allow leave to be taken for purposes of caring for individuals who reside in their home for six months or more; and to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault.

Taxation: The President-elect proposes creating a "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. Obama's plan also calls for increasing the number of working parents eligible for earned income tax credit (EITC) benefits; increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children through child support payments; and reducing the EITC marriage penalty. Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555. If the workers are paying child support, the plan would give those workers a benefit of $1,110.

Paid Sick Time: Obama's plan would require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year.

Family and Women's Issues

Family Medical Leave Act: Biden fought for the Family and Medical Leave Act that has given 50 million workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to look out for a sick family member. As there are many more workers who cannot afford unpaid leave, he is co-sponsoring the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide seven paid sick days to care for their own or their families' medical needs.

Domestic Violence: Senator Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s that set the national agenda on criminalizing violence against women and holding batterers truly accountable. This empowered women to make changes in their lives, and trained police and prosecutors to arrest and convict abusive husbands instead of telling them to take a walk around the block. Since this policy change, domestic violence and rape reports are down by more than 50 percent nationwide. But sadly more work remains, says Biden. In 2007, he introduced the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act, an initiative that would recruit volunteer lawyers and match them with domestic violence victims.

Puppies in the White House!

Ok, so it's not Obama's official stance. But as he said in his acceptance speech, his daughters Sasha and Malia will be getting the family dog they've been asking for throughout his campaign once they arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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