I watched John McCain and Barack Obama speak to Pastor Rick Warren on Saturday night. It was an interesting forum on faith and values, but the concept of work keeps rearing its head into the Presidential campaign.
Barack Obama went first. Here are some highlights related to work & employment:
- Barack Obama talked about work being an important and central piece of welfare reform, something that most Democrats didn’t necessarily recognize when Bill Clinton signed welfare reform legislation waaaaaaay back in 1996.
- Obama said that that there’s an intrinsic dignity in work — and work is important for the human condition. Work gives us a sense of purpose. Rick Warren agreed and said, “We were made for work.”
- Obama talked about the importance of work — and how Americans have a responsibility to make a contribution, however small, to our country.
- Obama recognized the importance of faith-based initiatives and would preserve the right of private organizations to hire whomever they want; however, when it comes to the programs that are federally funded, we must be careful not to create a situation where people are discriminated against. He recognized that there are some tough issues, but those issues are small and narrow. He wants to operate on a general principle of empowering faith-based organizations to fill the void where government & corporations can’t service the public.
- Obama believes in performance pay for teachers and he said, “I want to reward excellence.”
John McCain went second and here are his thought on work & employment:
- McCain said he would rely upon Meg Whitman to provide economic advice in a McCain administration.
- McCain supports merit-based pay for teachers and said, “Find bad teachers another line of work.” He believes in choice and competition.
- McCain wants everyone to get rich. He wants to keep taxes low and thinks the rich make $5MM and more. (He said, “I’m sure that comment will be distorted.”)
- In a response to a question about the right-to-privacy versus national security, McCain mentioned The Employee Free Choice Act (without mentioning its name) and reinforced his support for a private, secret ballot for union votes. [He said that the EFCA is a whole other subject but he wanted to mention it. (Noted.)]
I’m an atheist and a feminist who studied comparative theology as part of my undergraduate degree; I am a political junkie and a political geek; and I blog about work and workforce issues. The forum was awesome, yo. Big props to Rick Warren — not a bad guy for being a big-money Christian pastor — for using his political leverage to host this discussion.