2008 Presidential Corner: Richardson, Thompson aim to raise profile in field (part 1)

By Nadine Tester

Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and one of the Democratic candidates for president, has many proposals for change. His main focuses are providing quality health care and making education more affordable. He also has a detailed, yet, simple, plan not only to address, but to end, the war in Iraq.

If Richardson has his way, he intends to give every citizen choices for health care. “When some do not have access to affordable care, all Americans end up paying the price,” said Richardson on his Web site for president. To fix this, he plans to offer a refundable tax credit and to work with lenders like banks and credit card companies to lower interest rates for medical care debt. Although he doesn’t expand much on his platform for health care, Richardson also wants to work toward reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

Richardson in addition wants to work on education and make it less cost-prohibitive from start to finish. He plans on getting rid of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, so that schools continue to get sufficient funding, but don’t have to adhere to “one-size-fits-all programs.” Richardson also plans on increasing the national teaching average, while retaining competent certified teachers.

If elected, Richardson desires to help students through college as well. He feels that community service should be the focus of elementary and high schools, and wants to create incentives for students to participate. “The federal government will forgive two years of the cost of tuition and fees at a public university for each year of service,” said Richardson. Although Rider is not a public school, it still leaves many students stuck in debt for attaining an education that is a virtual necessity in today’s job market. As a way to counteract this fiscal impact on students, Richardson has proposed plans to make colleges more affordable in general. He wants to eliminate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and give more types of students access to financial aid. Also, Richardson would like to work with colleges and universities to create financial incentives that would keep costs down for their students.

Initially, Richardson’s plans for making education and health care more affordable may seem to be lengthy and detailed, but this is not his approach with every issue. His plan for the war in Iraq is simple — end it. If elected, he wants to remove all the troops from Iraq, withdraw as quickly as possible and then go back in, not with troops, but with diplomats. Richardson feels that Iraq is a political crisis that cannot be solved militarily.

Although Richardson is not a well-known candidate among the crowded field of presidential contenders, his ideas about programs, especially those concerning education, are solid, and could work out in the long run.

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