There are quite a few positive progressive policies outlined here although some of Obama's economic advisors are not very leftish and I imagine the same would be true of Clinton. What is clear is that as with products from the same company marginal differences must be used to develop strong brand identification to sell similar packages to the consumer. At least with Obama and Clinton they have skin color and gender to differentiate them!
Clinton, Obama Offer Similar Economic VisionsBy Jonathan Weisman and Anne E. KornblutWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, February 15, 2008; A01WARREN, Ohio, Feb. 14 -- Hillary Rodham Clinton slammed Barack Obamaduring an appearance at a General Motors plant here on Thursday for whatshe charged was a lack of a record of achievement on the economy. But asboth Democratic presidential candidates announced comprehensive economicplans this week, they advocated similar visions for what has become thesingle biggest issue for voters in the 2008 campaign.Clinton and Obama both promised that they would make the tax code moremiddle-income-friendly and would protect consumers from threats --including predatory credit card companies and rapacious college lenders.Both candidates condemned corporate tax breaks that they say send jobsoverseas. Both pledged to protect homeowners and said they would repealPresident Bush's upper-income tax cuts while extending those for themiddle class. Both promised to rein in credit card companies thatarbitrarily raise interest rates, sending families into a downwardspiral of debt."I've been looking for ways to differentiate these two, and it hasn'tbeen easy," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal EconomicPolicy Institute. This week's economic speeches do not "make it a wholelot easier," he added.Despite the similarities, Clinton, eager to generate positive news abouther campaign, went on the offensive during her tour of an automotiveplant. She sharpened her line of attack against Obama and what sheargues is his lack of substance. "Over the years, you've heard plenty ofpromises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches," Clinton told agroup of factory workers. "Speeches don't put food on the table.Speeches don't fill up your tank. Speeches don't fill your prescriptions."She continued: "That's the difference between me and my Democraticopponent. My opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions."But even with the economy teetering on the edge of a recession and bothDemocrats hoping to win union-heavy Ohio -- not to mention theendorsement of former senator and rival John Edwards (N.C.) in the daysahead -- neither Clinton nor, a day earlier, Obama swerved into an overtpopulist appeal. Where Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) castigated "BenedictArnold CEOs" during his White House bid four years ago, Clinton andObama seem to be channeling the Bill Clinton of 1992."I won't stand here and tell you that we can -- or should -- stop freetrade. We can't stop every job from going overseas," Obama told GMemployees on Wednesday, just hours after the company offered thousandsof worker buyouts. "But I also won't stand here and accept an Americawhere we do nothing to help American workers who have lost jobs andopportunities because of these trade agreements."The relative restraint has been somewhat surprising, party economistssay. Ohio Democrats have been pushing them toward a harder edge,especially on trade, but so far to no avail. "We want them to addressjob losses, the outsourcing issue, renegotiating trade agreements andthe mortgage crisis," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio). "But we're hearinga lot of generalities."The economic clouds are darkening rapidly. Federal Reserve Chairman BenS. Bernanke warned the Senate budget committee on Thursday that theeconomic outlook has worsened, sending stock prices tumbling."They're operating in an environment where for the first time on record,we could be going into a recession with household incomes actually lowerthan they were the last time we were in recession," said Jason Furman, aBrookings Institution economist who advised Kerry. "The economicpressures are just that much greater."Still, in choosing government as the tool to deliver health care,protect consumers, and direct investment in energy and infrastructure,both Democrats are setting up a general-election fight that will followa familiar partisan argument about what the size and scope of governmentshould be.Said Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee: "Wewill have a spirited and respectful discussion of the issues, but,believe me, I believe that I and my party, which is a center-right,conservative outlook, both philosophically and in legislative action,will prevail over the big-government, big-spending Democrats."For Clinton, the new emphasis on the economy allowed her to pushpolicies Thursday that align with the core of her message -- that shewould help ordinary voters.Her proposals are tailor-made for an industrial heartland hemorrhagingmanufacturing jobs and crippled by mortgage defaults and rising debt.She would rescue the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, afederal-local program for small manufacturers perpetually targeted forelimination by Bush, and would immediately limit credit card interestrates and stop credit card companies from raising those rates withoutwarning and from applying higher rates to old transactions.She would also establish a Financial Product Safety Commission, similarto the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to crack down on abusivelending practices in the credit card, auto loan and mortgage markets.To lower college tuition costs, Clinton said that she would crack downon lenders that shower college financial aid officers with gifts, stockoptions and trips in exchange for steering students to captive lendingmarkets.Many of those plans mirror Obama's promises. To pay for some of them,both candidates said they would eliminate tax breaks for companies thatsend jobs overseas. The current corporate tax code allows companies todefer taxes indefinitely on profits earned at facilities overseas. In2004, Kerry proposed subjecting those earnings to taxation immediatelybut using the proceeds to lower the domestic corporate income tax, aplan designed to tack him to the economic center. Clinton and Obama seeno reason for such gestures of moderation.Clinton did offer far more detail on how her initiatives would befunded. She backed up her promise to invest tens of billions of dollarsin renewable energy technology by handing the bill to the oil companies.They could either invest in renewable energy on their own or finance thefederal effort, largely funded by imposing real royalties on drilling onpublic land and by repealing recent tax breaks.Likewise, Clinton said she would end the "carried interest" loophole, aquirk in the tax code that has allowed private equity and hedge fundmanagers to pay tax rates of just 15 percent on millions of dollars inincome. Attempts to plug that loophole have also run into bipartisanopposition from lawmakers flooded with Wall Street campaign cash. ButDemocratic economists have been in a forgiving mood toward both candidates."There's definitely some hand-waving here," Bernstein acknowledged, "butfor people running for office, it's folly to ask precisely what they'regoing to do and precisely how you're going to pay for it."