Candidates Put Economy Centerstage; Outline Competing Economic Visions

McCain says he believes cutting taxes across the board would promote economic growth. He'd make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, cut corporate taxes, drop Internet taxes, end the Alternative Minimum Tax, and double the personal exemption for dependents from $3,500 to $7,000.

Obama would raise taxes on the wealthy -- individuals who make more than $200,000 a year or couples who earn more than $250,000 a year -- but cut taxes for most households. Middle-class families would receive a $1,000 tax credit under his plan; seniors on fixed incomes would not be taxed.

The McCain campaign insists he would not raise taxes on a single American.

On health care, McCain offers Americans $5,000 credit to make private health insurance more affordable. Obama says people who can't afford private insurance should have access to an affordable government plan.

On the mortgage crisis, McCain would encourage lenders to refinance mortgages that have become too expensive for responsible homebuyers. Obama would rely on a government fund to help people avoid foreclosure, and give a mortgage interest tax credit to low and middle income earners who don't itemize.

In battleground states, like Ohio, and across the country, McCain and Obama have been trying to tell voters that they feel their pain and are willing to take action.

But, beyond sympathy, there are deeper issues that neither has addressed -- including what some economists call "the cardinal macroeconomic problem of the economy -- the budget deficit."

Both candidates frame the economy as a leadership issue: McCain, "the maverick" versus Obama, "the agent of change." But successfully managing the economy is much more complicated.

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