Since his rousing keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama has remained a favorite among those eager to back a young, vibrant candidate seeking to change politics as usual in Washington.
Already, the U.S. senator from Illinois has made history -- not only as the first black candidate of a major party, but also in terms of grassroots mobilization and fundraising. Currently, he leads challenger John McCain 49.6 percent to 40 percent in an aggregate of national polls published this week at RealClearPolitics.com. Here's more about his platform.
Name: Barack Obama
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Education: J.D., Harvard Law School, 1991; B.A., Columbia University, 1983
Religion: United Church of Christ
Political experience: 2005-present, United States senator; 1997-2004, senator, Illinois General Assembly
Running mate: Joe Biden, U.S. senator from Delaware
Windfall profits tax on oil companies would fund $1,000 emergency energy rebate to families. Would offer a "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person and eliminate capital gains taxes on startup businesses. Would eliminate all income tax on seniors making less than $50,000 annually. Plans to simplify filing system to alleviate prep time and fees.
Would raise minimum wage and index it to inflation. $50 billion relief plan would prevent cuts to local assistance programs and infrastructure, saving jobs. Believes trade agreements should include labor and environmental protections. Would create Advanced Manufacturing Fund to invest in new strategies. Would create an independent National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, infused with $60 billion over a decade, to expand federal investment in transportation.
Would invest $150 billion over 10 years to create five million green jobs through the development of low-emission coal and alternative energy. Under a Renewable Portfolio Standard, would require 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012. Would implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050. Supports a "Use It or Lose It" policy for oil company land leases.
Believes a "responsible and phased" withdrawal of troops in Iraq could have them out in 16 months; encourages Iraqi responsibility and diplomacy. Supports aggressive diplomacy, without preconditions, in Iran. Elsewhere, would strengthen NATO, seek new Asian partnerships, double foreign aid (to $50 billion) to end global poverty and meet with leaders of any nation, friend or foe.
Believes health care is an American right. Would require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. Would create a National Health Insurance Exchange, allowing (not mandating) individuals to enroll in the new public plan or an approved private plan. Would lower costs and premiums through computerization of medical records, allowing prescription-drug importation and increasing competition among insurers.