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By Admin1 (admin) ( on Friday, September 26, 2008 - 11:19 am: Edit Post

A Comparison of Obama and McCain On Public Service

A Comparison of Obama and McCain On Public Service

McCain's goals are laudable, but he still seems somewhat vague (he won't say how much his "initiative" would cost, for example). Obama is more specific, digging down into details about doubling the Peace Corps, requiring fifty hours of required community service for middle and high schoolers, offering $4000 toward college for 100 hours of service (as not.Brit notes in the comments)--and putting a $3.5 billion price tag on the project.

A Comparison of Obama and McCain On Public Service

You Want Service Initiatives? We've Got Service Initiatives.

Andrew Romano

Caption: GOP presidential candidate John McCain (left) greets his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, at a forum on national service at Columbia University on Sept. 11. Photo: Stephan Savoia/AP

Sometimes I think all the outrage directed at the MSM is misguided. But sometimes it's warranted.

Case in point: last night. On the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, both Barack Obama and John McCain went on stage at Columbia University here in New York to discuss the theme of national service. It wasn't the sexiest subject, the candidates didn't even appear together and there was little partisan rancor to feed the press's endless appetite for drama. But as the Washington Post's Michael D. Shear and Jonathan Weisman noted this morning in the lede of their report on the event, both candidates did "pledg[e] to inspire a new commitment to public service." More specifically, they "Promis[ed] National-Security Initiatives"--that is, new policy proposals meant to encourage "service through teaching, the military, the Peace Corps and faith-based volunteering."

Unfortunately, Shear and Weisman didn't bother to tell their readers anything about said policies. Instead, we got McCain "acknowledg[ing] the 'rough"'nature of the campaign and praising Obama's service as a community organizer--something his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had mocked during her speech to the Republican national convention." We got Obama "not disparag[ing]"--surprise!--"Palin's service as mayor of Wasilla, praising small-town mayors and noting the presence of many at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last month. We got a bit of "lighthearted" banter about whether either candidate would "create a Cabinet-level position on public service -- and then appoint the other to it." But as far as the specifics of their individual service plans--beyond the basic distinction that McCain believes that "the government should not compel service" while Obama believes that "that government and the private sector could work together to augment each other's efforts"--we got nothing.

I sympathize with my MSM colleagues. A policy is a static thing. It doesn't have the twists and turns of a good story. You can't cover a policy proposal day after day. Once announced, it's over. And frankly, most campaign reporters are students of campaigns, not economics or agriculture or health care or international diplomacy. But today, we here at Stumper headquarters thought it'd be worthwhile--as a nod to the hallowed day they were unveiled and the importance of the subject at hand--to provide what the rest of the press hasn't provided: an unfiltered look at Obama and McCain's competing service initiatives. Maybe you'll be bored. Maybe you'll be informed. Maybe you'll be both.

My meta-analysis: McCain's goals are laudable, but he still seems somewhat vague (he won't say how much his "initiative" would cost, for example). Obama is more specific, digging down into details about doubling the Peace Corps, requiring fifty hours of required community service for middle and high schoolers, offering $4000 toward college for 100 hours of service (as not.Brit notes in the comments)--and putting a $3.5 billion price tag on the project.

Anyway, here goes:

John McCain's Service to America Initiative:

Bolster volunteerism with an energetic and comprehensive national service initiative designed to increase opportunities for people willing to serve their communities and their country.

Ensure coordination of all service efforts across the federal government and make certain that all these service programs are effective and on equal footing.

Convene "Volunteerism Summits" so people can share with others the best ideas and most effective programs currently underway in their own communities.

Increase focus of our volunteers on urgent situations such as the high school dropout crisis and job retraining.

Boost opportunities for service overseas to increase understanding and communication among diverse cultures.

Create opportunities for families to spend service opportunities together at home and abroad.

Increase service opportunities for the disabled community.

Coordinate a network of private sector "venture capital" funds matched with government grants to support job retraining or vocational training efforts in high schools and targeted communities where job loss persists.

Allow faith-based organizations to improve their volunteerism numbers by allowing them to hire consistent with the views of the respective organization without risking federal funding.

With Boomers entering the retirement ranks, provide more opportunities to senior Americans by expanding SeniorCorps with a focus on mentoring at risk students, assisting community-based homeland security programs, and overseas teaching of American history to bridge cultural divides.

Develop opportunities for returning veterans to reintegrate immediately through a civilian service opportunity and continue to serve their country upon returning home.

Engage more college students in community service through the Federal Work-Study program; current law only requires seven percent of recipients to perform community service.

Engage Americans in disaster preparedness and response by providing education and training resources for effective community-based efforts.

Use AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps volunteers as tutors and mentors to address the high school dropout crisis in America.

Create a realistic teaching certification requirement for outstanding individuals with years of service and work so they have the opportunity to tutor or teach without jumping through unreasonable bureaucratic hoops.

Strengthen the teaching of American history and civics education through volunteers in our communities and schools who are able to tutor and teach with a teaching certificate equivalency.

Barack Obama's Plan for Universal Voluntary Citizen Service:

Encourage national service to address the great challenges of our time, including combating climate change, extending health care, improving our schools and strengthening America overseas by showing the world the best of our nation.

Expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots and double the size of the Peace Corps.

Integrate service-learning into our schools and universities to enable students to graduate college with as many as 17 weeks of service experience under their belts.

Provide new service opportunities for working Americans and retirees.

Expand service initiatives that engage disadvantaged young people and advance their education.

Expand the capacity of nonprofits to innovate and expand successful programs across the country.

Enable more Americans to serve in the armed forces.

Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: September, 2008; Election 2008; National Service; Speaking Out

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Story Source: Newsweek

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Election2008; National Service; Speaking Out


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