High food and fuel prices. Housing and credit problems. Job losses. Worries about a recession. No wonder the economy is a top issue for American voters.
Senator John McCain says tax cuts are needed for growth. The Republican presidential candidate set out his economic plan in a speech this week in Pennsylvania.
He would push Congress to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent. And he would aim to lower the top rate of income tax for businesses, from thirty-five percent to twenty-five percent.
In all, Senator McCain proposes about two hundred billion dollars in new tax cuts for businesses and individuals. To help pay for them, he would cut earmarks, those special interest projects added to spending bills.
He would also hold federal spending at most agencies to current levels and cut wasteful programs. But many experts say it is unlikely these cuts would equal the cost of the tax cuts.
The campaigns of Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton dismissed the McCain plan as a continuation of George Bush's policies. Both Democrats say they are against tax cuts for the wealthy. They propose moderate tax cuts for the middle class.
Right now, falling property values are a big worry for millions of families. Some people who borrowed more for houses than they should have, or took out loans with rising payments, may lose their homes.
This week, researchers from the Pew Charitable Trusts predicted that three percent of all homeowners will be in foreclosure in the next few years. This would be the result of high-cost subprime loans made in two thousand five and two thousand six, and the effects on local property values.
Problems can be found nationally, though some areas and neighborhoods are more affected than others.
Hillary Clinton proposes to stop foreclosures for at least ninety days and freeze interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages for five years. She also proposes thirty billion dollars in aid to help states prevent foreclosures. Barack Obama's plan calls for ten billion dollars for homeowner aid.
Last month, John McCain said "it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers." But he now proposes to let some homeowners replace their subprime mortgages with federally guaranteed loans. His campaign says the plan would help up to four hundred thousand homeowners.