Daily Iowan - student newspaper of the University of Iowa in Iowa City

Friday, December 21, 2007

DEMOCRAT: Sen. Barack Obama

Barack Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving eight years in the Illinois Senate. Prior to life as an elected official, he took a hands-on approach to civil service. Obama passed on high-paying jobs in the private sector and instead became a church-based community organizer in Chicago after graduating from Columbia in 1983. He returned to Chicago again as a civil-rights lawyer and constitutional-law professor after graduating from the Harvard Law School in 1991, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Through his life and career he has demonstrated a passion to serve and a commitment to bringing people together to solve problems.

From the start, Obama was viewed as charismatic but lacking in substance. Now, fewer than two weeks from our state caucuses, this is no longer the case. Obama's commanding oratorical abilities should not distract voters from his policy proposals, objectives that outline a return of "united" to the United States. We believe his judgment and ideas are the best fit, not just for a party but for a people. We believe Obama represents the best of our polity and a better future for our nation, which is why he is receiving The Daily Iowan's endorsement.

- When talk of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction mutated into the push for invasion, Obama had the courage and prudence to oppose the war, pointing out that military action at that juncture would begin "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences." No other serious candidate stood so strongly against popular opinion at the time. Five years later, Iraq has not made enough progress to release us from our current open-ended commitment. This war has cost us nearly half a trillion dollars and - more importantly - thousands of American lives. Obama's plan would remove troops at the rate of one to two brigades a month, leading to a complete withdrawal of forces by the end of 2008. He would require the beginning of a new constitutional convention organized by the United Nations, not to end until a new reconciliation agreement is in place. Most importantly, we believe strongly that Obama would employ something the world hasn't seen from America in years: diplomacy. Stronger alliances can be formed to secure regional stability by opening new dialogue and assuring Middle East nations of the vital role their involvement can play in future peace. A strong and independent Iraq will not only free America of a burden, but contribute to harmony in the Middle East.

- Rather than forcing those who cannot afford health insurance to buy it through mandates and punishing those who don't fall in line with fines, Obama's approach to ensuring total coverage of all Americans aims to lower costs by pinning the pressure on insurance and pharmaceutical companies. We believe Obama to be the most able to confront massive industrial monopolies and their ballooning profits and to begin needed reform by reducing costs for our citizens. Individuals will not be turned down for coverage because of illness or pre-existing conditions. Along with expanded eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP, Obama will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help those who wish to purchase private insurance. As a watchdog group, the exchange will aid in private insurance market reform by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness in both price and accessibility. Insurers would have to charge premiums deemed fair and stable by the exchange and would be required to justify an above-average premium increase. He will prohibit drug companies from keeping generics off the market and end the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

- Obama believes the issues surrounding global warming and energy can be solved by the ingenuity of the American people. He would double federal clean-energy science and research funding, including biomass, solar, and wind technologies. He would institute a complete economy-wide cap-and-trade system, using the profits to help workers and industries adapt to clean technology development and production, transforming green advancement into jobs and economic growth. Obama believes in expanding Federal Efficiency Grants for energy efficient buildings and ending incentives for utility companies that have customers who consume more energy - instead giving these incentives to utilities that improve energy efficiency. He will mandate that all new vehicles be flex-fuel vehicles by the end of his first term, reforming the auto industry to better compete with foreign companies while decreasing emissions.

Chris Dodd's drive and commitment are admirable. Joe Biden's knowledge of the workings of Washington is substantial. John Edwards' dedication to the lower class is honorable. All of the candidates have certain positions we can appreciate. Barack Obama embodies the best in his party, the hopes of our nation, and what we need from our next president.

Copyright © 2007 Daily Iowan.  All rights reserved.  Seeking permission to reprint (12/23/07).