McCain vs. Obama: Getting Answers on the Adoption Tax Credit

About a week ago I was talking to a friend about the adoption tax credit that offers a $10,000 credit when you adopt. This friend claimed the credit was George W. Bush’s idea and lamented that if Barack Obama gets elected the credit will vanish. So I decided to sort out some facts. Which is harder than I thought.

To start with the basics, the adoption tax credit started in 1997 as a $5,000 credit and was raised to $10,000 in 2001 as a part of Bush’s tax cuts. Bush didn’t start the tax credit, though he did raise it. It’s also not clear if this is something Bush pushed for or if it was just part of the package. It’s also slated to expire in 2010 if it’s not renewed.

And this is where it gets tricky. Where do the current presidential candidates stand on renewing the adoption tax credit?

Well, let’s find out.

I went to both candidate’s web sites on June 23 and tried to find the answer. It didn’t help that Barack Obama had no search box. But neither John McCain nor Obama had a site organized enough to answer my question. Or my question is simply to specific to be there. Anywhere. I know it’s not front page news, but with the ballooning web presence most candidates have I’d expect to find an answer to any policy question, no matter how small. Apparently not.

So I asked. I contacted both candidates through their online forms. And this is where it gets fun.

Barack Obama
One week later I’ve received exactly seven e-mails from the Obama campaign. They sent me two auto responses talking about the flood of e-mail they receive and how they’re unable to answer it all, and they sent five e-mail newsletters. Apparently filling out their online form dumped me into their database by default and now I’m getting everything they send out.

You’d think they’d have an opt-in option on their contact form. I guess not.

You’d think they’d have an army of interns to answer simple questions like mine. I guess not.

You’d think they’d split up their e-mail newsletter into interest categories so they don’t overwhelm people. I guess not.

You’d think with all those responses they could actually answer my question. Not so far.

John McCain
And one week later McCain’s campaign has sent me nothing.

No response to let me know they received my message. That’s bad.

No flood of e-mail newsletters. That’s good!

But no answer to my question. That’s bad.

The Answer
Some googling came up with the Major Provisions of the McCain and Obama Tax Plans PDF from the Tax Policy Center which seems to say that both Barack Obama and John McCain support extending the adoption tax credit.

So the short answer to a long story is that the adoption tax credit shouldn’t be going anywhere. That’s good. But the bad part is how easily and passionately people can spread false stories. Candidates, especially presidential ones, should be getting the correct information out there. Better organized, searchable web sites are a must. But so is basic communication. For all of the candidates’ forays into social media, it doesn’t count for much if it’s still a one-way street. It’s not web 2.0 unless you’re communicating both ways.

Update: I received another e-mail from Obama campaign about five hours after I wrote this. So that’s eight e-mails in one week.

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