11/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Vs McCain: OTB Policy Wonks Weigh In On Where The Candidates Stand On Key Issues

As the Wall Street crisis and recent violence in Pakistan have made all too clear, there are crucial global, financial and social issues that the next president will be forced to grapple with. Over the past few weeks HuffPost's OffTheBus writers have tossed aside the lipstick and plunged into some of the most pressing issues in the election by analyzing key policy differences between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

Members have evaluated the candidates' proposals on everything from fighting crime to improving the lives of refugees in Darfur to teaching sex education in schools (or not).

Here are some of the highlights:

"Alan Shaffer, a town hall participant, posed the question: what is the fastest and most positive solution to bailing out older workers and retirees in America and keep them from financial ruin? This was the first question presented in the second presidenial debate and it remains virtually unanswered, even though each candidate touched on their own version of a solution."
Last Night's Debate Left Unanswered Protection of Older Workers and Retirees by Lecia Shorter

"This country needs a 21st century jobs program. One that recognizes we have moved from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy and that our federal policies need to reflect that change. In the next and final debate, the candidates should tell us how they plan to get us there."
Candidates Must Develop Plan For American Workers Based On Knowledge Economy by Julian L. Alssid

"Women could lead starkly different lives depending on whether they live under a McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden Administration. At risk is their economic well-being, their health, and their very right to control their own bodies. Looking beyond the sound bites and attack ads, the candidate's actions portray strikingly divergent views on their approach to women's issues."
A McCain Administration Would Set Women's Equality Back For Decades by Cristobal Joshua Alex

"The next administration is not only going to face a huge deficit, a shattered economy and precarious banking system, it also has to struggle just to avoid drowning in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region. This brings Iran front and center in either an Obama or McCain administration's future foreign policy. To better understand the current US-Iran policy and the reality facing the next administration, I had a phone conversation with Vali Nasr, among the foremost experts on Iran."
US Needs Broader Iran Policy, Including More Enticing Rewards For Cooperation by Salim Madjd

"One of the great hidden issues of this presidential campaign season has been immigration. So dominant an issue in 2006 and 2007, immigration reform - for all the heat it used to generate - has now dropped way down the agenda of national politics. But not for long: early in 2009, immigration reform will be center-stage again. The competing armies have not gone away. They are simply on hold. When they come back we will face the same ten choices as before."
Immigration Debate Still Simmers Below The Surface by David Coates

"According to statements made by Senators John McCain and Barack Obama in a questionnaire recently released by three leading Darfur activist organizations, both US presidential candidates are committed to bringing a swift end to the genocide unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan. Yet, as this first genocide of the 21st century continues into its sixth year, words are cheap."
Neither Candidate Has Done Enough To Help Darfur Victims by Susan Morgan

"The Millennium Development Goals are the United Nations' blueprint for cutting poverty and hunger, for spreading education and health, and for sustaining the environment. Goal 4 aims to cut child mortality by two thirds. Of the 9.2 million children under 5 who die every year, 40 percent die in their first month. Why? Because their mothers were unhealthy, malnourished, had just given birth perhaps 13 months before and had no access to family planning. The Bush Administration plays all kinds of games with women's access to reproductive health and family planning. John McCain, you haven't shown me that you would be any better."
McCain Would Undermine Development By Restricting Women's Access To Reproductive Health Programs by Jane Roberts

"On Saturday when a suicide truck bomb exploded at the Marriot hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, it was a harsh reminder of where the central front in the War on Terror is. The Pakistanis and the Afghans are all too aware of the Taliban's rebuilding in the Tribal lands that blur the border between the two countries. The border became a porous emergence haven for the terrorist group, but has remained a solid wall for American troops. This battle over sovereignty and jurisdiction has slowed the capture of Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives, possibly including Osama Bin Laden. With the American election a few weeks away, each candidate's stance on Pakistan reveals critical insight into how they view America's best interest in the War on Terror."

McCain Lacks Vision On Pakistan; Obama Ready To Engage
by George McHendry Jr.

"John McCain consistently proposes, as the AFLCIO website reports, diverting some percentage of the SSA income stream to private accounts, or "privatization" of Social Security. This does nothing whatsoever to solve the projected shortfalls in funding that will begin in about fifteen years. And the debate over the wisdom of placing tax collections in private investment is as old as the program itself."
McCain's Social Security Plan Would Cut Benefits To People Who Already Paid For Them by Stephen Herrington

"Over nine million children lack health insurance, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. In 1997 Sen. Ted Kennedy (D), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spearheaded S-CHIP, a joint federal-state effort to subsidize health coverage for over six million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private coverage. Why, then, are so many children still without health care? To learn more about what's at stake in this arena, OffTheBus spoke with Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, the nation's strongest voice for children and families."
Children's Defense Fund Founder: McCain Will Leave Millions Of Children Uninsured by Diane Tucker

"Mandatory minimums, an intense policing of communities of color and a lack of rehabilitative programs remain the cornerstone of managing crime in American cities. Politicians, afraid of seeming soft on crime, have done little to revise the failed policies of the war on drugs. But the Obama/Biden plan is neither abstract nor ideological--it targets the root causes of racial disparity in the criminal justice system in the United States."
Obama's Approach To Fighting Crime Tackles Root Causes of Crime and Violence by Heather Tirado Gilligan and Nikki Jones

"When employees decide to form a union and their employer chooses to fight them, be prepared to witness the filthiest most duplicitous examples of human behavior. I've done battle with the titans of the healthcare industry who, rather than hand over a wage increase, will spend lavish amounts on union-busting lawyers, manipulative smear campaigns, and overtime pay to managers who call and house-visit employees to threaten their livelihoods...There is some legislation on the dock, however, that would snatch the knife out of the boss' grip: The Employee Free Choice Act. Obama, thankfully, is for it.... And where does the Senior Senator from Arizona stand on this issue? Simple, he's a scab."
Obama, McCain And The Rights Of The American Worker by Natasha Vargas-Cooper

"The candidates agree that education in America is in dire need of improvement. They also agree on the basics for reform: early childhood education is vital, parents play a central role, the No Child Left Behind Act hasn't lived up to its promises, more accountability for results is needed, and more must be done to attract and retain good teachers. Here's how the candidates compare on the major issues..."
Candidates Agree On Education Goals, Differ On Path To Get There by Richard Riehl

"Obama must understand that as goes the automotive industry, so goes Michigan. How do voters feel about the candidates' auto-related policies? OffTheBus asked Peter M. De Lorenzo, author of The United States of Toyota and founder of Auto Extremist, the Internet magazine devoted to news and analysis of the car biz. For nearly a decade De Lorenzo has been a"must read" for policy makers looking for the unvarnished, high-octane truth."
Suddenly Obama's Auto-Policies Matter: Michigan Is The New Florida by Diane Tucker

"There has been much ballyhoo made by Republican Party ads of the notion that Obama would support 'learning about sex before learning to read.' I may be tarred and feathered for this statement, but - great! Fabulous! Teach them all their little brains can hold. Why? Because of the actual language of the legislation in question. What clear-thinking parent doesn't want their child to learn, in the most thorough manner possible, 'how to say no to unwanted sexual advances" and to understand "...methods of preventing sexual assault..." or "avoiding behavior that impairs one's judgment?'"
Children Deserve A Sex Education Policy That Provides Answers by Susan Kelley-Stamerra

"Until now, Paulson has faced fairly tame questions from talk show hosts. Today and tomorrow, he will face populist outrage from senators and representatives; and many Republicans will be as indignant as Democrats. The political far-right, over the past 48 hours, has united against the plan. Some on the right, such as those at Cato and Heritage, oppose the idea as principled libertarians who think government should keep hands off the economy, come what may. Others, like Newt Gingrich, have never cared much for Wall Street. More moderate Republicans have also lashed out at Paulson, reflecting the anger of their own constituents, in hopes of saving their own skins. Washington today is filled with born-again regulators."
Obama And McCain Uniquely Tested By Proposed Wall Street Bailout Bill by Robert Kuttner

"Our government, through the unconscionable complacency of the deregulated Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Congress has derailed our right to fair elections well before we pull the curtain to cast our votes.....The pit-bull watchdog of consumer advertising, the FTC, sits the political advertising dance out because it claims no product is being sold. In the 22 years I've been in marketing, I can't think of a larger, more carefully packaged product being sold to the American people than that of the office of the President of the United States."

Deregulated Media And Our Endless Campaign "Silly Season"
by Sarah O'Leary

"While in the US Senate, McCain voted NO on expanding the definition of hate crimes to include crimes based on sexual orientation, and voted NO on prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill would have caused the definition of "hate crime" to encompass acts committed because of a victim's disability or sexual orientation and would have permitted the federal government to assist in state prosecutions of hate crimes."
On Civil Rights And Gay Rights, McCain Flunks The Test by Susan Kelley-Stamerra

"The American Medical Association's proposed health care reform goes by the name Voice for the Uninsured and advocates government-subsidized purchase of private insurance. It sounds remarkably like the Massachusetts plan that mandates purchase of private insurance, reimbursed by government in the form of subsidies, vouchers or tax credits. Many "affordable" plans these days are "minimum benefit plans" -- sufficient until accident or sickness occur. A tax penalty is imposed for failure to purchase private insurance."
Like Wall Street, Current Health Care Policy Privatizes Profit And Socializes Risk by Michele Swenson

Read more at OffTheBus.