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The two main candidates, Barack Obama (Democrat) and John McCain (Republican), differ greatly in their approach to the economy. On points ranging from how deal with rising energy prices to whether or not to continue the war in Iraq, the variations between their plans to solve America's problems will have macroeconomic and industry-specific effects.

In general, Obama's platform revolves around government intervention and aid of failing or emerging markets, and renewable energy companies will be given an extra R&D boost in the form of billions of dollars of government investment. McCain, on the other hand, believes in a free-market, hands-off approach. His positions on the war and on energy independence mean that the defense and oil industries will benefit.

Companies that Benefit from an Obama Administration

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Renewable energy companies will benefit from Obama's energy policy mandating a transition away from carbon-based fossil fuels; he plans on spending $15 billion a year for ten years on clean energy infrastructure development. [1] These include:

Housing and home improvement demand could fall even further if Obama's tax increases curb investment on the consumer and industrial side, as well as reduce marginal incomes of high income earners. This could be especially painful for higher end home builers like Toll Brothers

High-speed telecommunications infrastructure companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Tellabs, Motorola, Finisar, Corning, and Emcore as well as railroad companies like CSX and Burlington Northern Santa Fe will reap the returns of government contracts stemming from Obama's infrastructure spending plan.

Companies that Benefit from a McCain Administration

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Oil exploration and production companies will benefit from McCain's relaxation of the federal offshore drilling ban. These include

The defense industry benefits from McCain's proactive position on American defense spending and the Iraq War.

  • Raytheon produces strategic missiles like the Tomahawk, as well as the Missile Defense Shield.
  • Boeing Company produces, among other things, fighter jets like the F-22, heavy transport carriers like the C-17, and communications systems like the Joint Tactical Radio Station.
  • Lockheed Martin - Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter is the U.S. military's replacement for the F-16 fighter plane.
  • Northrop Grumman - Northrop Grumman produces nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the B2 stealth bomber, and integrated communications and surveillance systems. It won the U.S. government contract to build the KC-45 airborne refueling tanker.

Companies invested in Brazilian sugar ethanol like Goldman Sachs and BP will benefit from McCain's desire to eliminate ethanol import tariffs.

Tax Plan Comparison

Obama's proposes to tax the rich heavily while cutting taxes middle class earners. McCain will cut taxes across the board, most significantly for the rich.[2]

IncomeChange in avg. tax bill Change in avg. tax bill
Over $2.9M(-$269,364)+$701,885
$603K and up(-$45,361)+$115,974
Under $19K(-$19)(-$567)

Barack Obama's Platform

On Energy and the Environment

  • Cap greenhouse gas emissions by implementing an emissions trading program; pollution rights would be auctioned off to highest emitters.[3]
  • Use auction revenues to fund a $15 billion annual budget for researching and implementing new clean energy technologies, like clean coal, wind energy, and solar power, over the next ten years - to be classified as "infrastructure" spending.[4]
  • Supports development of (i.e. cellulosic) biofuels.[5]
  • Proposed "windfall profit tax" on oil sold above $80/barrel, with revenues cycled back into rebates to relieve energy bills for lower- and middle-class consumers.[6]
  • Would require 25% of U.S. energy to come from clean sources by 2025, with ultimate goal of reducing 80% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.[7]
  • Against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR).[8]

On Defense and the Iraq War

  • Obama plans on removing 1-2 brigades per month from Iraq immediately upon taking office, with the goal of total withdrawal by the end of 16 months.[9]
  • Will cut spending on Iraq War, missile defense, future weapons development, and space weaponization[10], but has stated intentions to increase the size of the military by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines.[11]

On Housing and Finance

  • Plans to earmark $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosures.[12]
  • Plans to create a "credit card bill of rights" so cardholders are aware of "hidden credit costs".[13]
  • Will create a system of tax credits to help up to 10 million homeowners pay their mortgage bills.[14]

On the Macroeconomy

  • Through tax cuts and direct subsidies/rebates, would inject $75 million into the U.S. Economy.[15]
  • Would create a $45 billion reserve for future emergency stimulus[16]
  • Would give $250 tax rebate to seniors and workers, with $250 more in reserve in case the economy gets worse.[17]
  • Wants to figure out a way to raise capital gains taxes but eliminate them for start-ups.[18]
  • Plans to create an "infrastructure reinvestment bank" which would invest in infrastructure projects like high-speed rail, electricity grids, and high-speed internet hook-ups.[19]
  • Will give $4,000 a year in college credits to students that pledge to do public service later in life, essentially making it easier for students to go to college.[20]
  • Wants to cut taxes on the middle-class by around 2.4% and increase taxes for the rich (those with incomes above $2.8 million) by around 11.5%.[21]

John McCain's Platform

On Energy and the Environment

  • Believes that climate change is a legitimate issue, and wants to use market-based cap-and-trade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[22]
  • Supports alternative energy sources, especially nuclear energy; would fund investment using revenues gained through cap-and-trade system, though on a smaller scale than Obama[23], but is against using other tax funds and subsidies.[24] Has stated that he wants 45 new nuclear plants online by 2030 - and has pledged $2 billion per year in subsidies to make it happen.[25]
  • Has proposed having the government offer a $300 million prize to anyone that comes up with a car battery that is 30% cheaper than current technology and helps to reduce dependence on gasoline.[26]
  • Supports reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by reversing a federal ban on U.S. offshore drilling and giving states tax incentives for allowing oil companies access to offshore reserves.[27] He is, however, against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[28]
  • Advocates eliminating tariffs on imported ethanol, so that cheaper, more efficient cane-sugar ethanol from Brazil can be imported.

On Defense and the Iraq War

  • Willing to stay the course on the Iraq War until victory is achieved. Believes victory will be achieved when Al-Qaeda is eradicated, Iraqi security forces are competent enough to defend their own country, and a stable, democratic government is in place.[29]
  • Has claimed to support increasing defense spending[30], though his economic adviser suggested funding tax cuts by cutting defense spending—roughly $382 billion per year. Has not reconciled continuing the Iraq War with defense spending cuts.[31]

On Housing and Finance

  • Does not support further government intervention in the housing and finance markets, except as a "last resort".[32]

On the Macroeconomy

  • Wants to lower corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.[33]
  • Wants to make Bush tax cuts permanent.[34]
  • Has suggested an R&D tax credit for up to 10% of wages spent on research and development.[35]
  • Would allow deduction on equipment and capital investments for first-year ventures.[36]


  1. The Wall Street Journal, Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Data from Tax Policy Center via
  3. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  4. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  5. Election Center 2008: Energy]
  6. AFP: "Obama calls for windfall tax on oil profits as gas prices soar"
  7. Election Center 2008: Energy]
  8. 2008 Election ProCon: "Should drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) be allowed?"
  9. Obama '08: War in Iraq
  10. Weekly Standard Blog: Video
  11. Common Dreams News Center: "Republicans Defect to the Obama Camp"
  12. CNN Election Center 2008: Housing
  13. CNN Election Center 2008: Housing
  14. CNN Election Center 2008: Housing
  15. CNN Election Center 2008: Economic stimulus
  16. CNN Election Center 2008: Economic stimulus
  17. CNN Election Center 2008: Economic stimulus
  18. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  19. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  20. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  21. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  22. Climate Change
  23. The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Plans Spending Boost, Possible Cut in Business Tax"
  24. The Huffington Post: "McCain Touts Green Policies At Wind Energy Firm - But He Opposed Their Key Legislation"
  25. SeekingAlpha: "Nuclear Power's Second Coming Will Lead to a Uranium Boom"
  26. Eco Worldly: "$800 Million Prize for Alternative Energy to Power Africa’s Villages"
  27. The Wall Street Journal: "McCain Would Relax Drilling Ban"
  29. "Strategy for Victory in Iraq"
  30. CNN Election Center 2008: Homeland Security
  31. Examiner: "More McCain Economics: Cut Defense Spending"
  32. CNN Election Center 2008: Housing
  33. Examiner: "More McCain Economics: Cut Defense Spending"
  34. Examiner: "More McCain Economics: Cut Defense Spending"
  35. CNN Election Center 2008: Economic stimulus
  36. CNN Election Center 2008: Economic stimulus
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