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comparing proposals

Independent analyses of the presidential candidates' tax proposals show that those who make less than $250,000 a year would not see their taxes raised under Sen. Barack Obama's plans. Further, Obama would generally cut taxes more than Sen. John McCain would for households with incomes less than $100,000 a year.

McCain would cut taxes generally on par with Obama for those making $100,000 to $250,000 a year, the two analyses found, but those making $250,000 a year and above would usually pay less in taxes under McCain.

The analyses were conducted independently by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, and Deloitte, the accounting giant, at the request of the New York Times.

McCain has been sounding the traditional Republican tax-cutting theme, trying to convince voters that Obama, the Democratic nominee, wants to increase taxes and spread the wealth like a socialist. Obama has been fighting those accusations in stump speeches and commercials

But the tax proposals are complicated, and tax bills are affected by personal variables. Analysts at the Tax Policy Center and Deloitte tried to explain the ramifications of the candidates' plans by applying their tax policies to various situations.

Still, Clint Stretch, Deloitte's managing principal of tax policy, said, "When Obama says he cuts taxes for every working family under $150,000, I'd say that's true."

fairbanks, alaskA

Stevens declares, 'I've not been convicted'

"I've not been convicted yet," Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens insisted Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"There's not a black mark by my name yet, until the appeal is over and I am finally convicted, if that happens."

A federal court jury on Monday convicted Stevens on seven counts of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts.

The conviction won't block Stevens from casting a vote for himself in Tuesday's election. State legal officials say that since he has not been sentenced yet, he is eligible to vote.

on television

33.6-million watched Obama's long TV ad

Nielsen Media Research estimated that 33.6-million people watched Barack Obama's half-hour TV ad Wednesday night. The spot ran on CBS, NBC, Fox, BET, Univision, MSNBC and TV One, and aides said it cost the campaign roughly $4-million.

ABC did not run Obama's commercial, instead showing Pushing Daisies, which was slightly helped by the lack of entertainment competition. The drama was seen by 6.6-million people; its season average is 5.9-million.

Toward the end of his 1992 campaign for president, Ross Perot ran a half-hour infomercial that was watched by 22.7-million people, according to Nielsen.

The candidate also proved a late-night draw on Wednesday. The Daily Show on Comedy Central had a record 3.6-million viewers, shattering the show's previous mark by 700,000 viewers - set when Obama's wife appeared.


Rep. Emanuel asked about Obama position

Obama's campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday as the marathon presidential race entered its final stretch. Emanuel is a veteran of President Bill Clinton's White House, and has made a rapid ascent of the House leadership ladder since his election to Congress. He was chairman of the Democratic campaign committee two years ago when the party won a majority for the first time in more than a decade. Both Obama and McCain have authorized their staffs to begin transition operations in recent weeks. As far as is known, no job offers have been made by either.


Joe the Plumber signs on with publicity team

Like all good celebrities, Joe the Plumber has hired a publicity team. The Press Office in Nashville, where clients include rockers Grand Funk Railroad and Eddie Money, will help him handle the flood of interview and appearance requests that have poured in since he was mentioned during a presidential debate and quickly became a household name.

Despite rumors to the contrary, he's not planning to release an album, though a book is in the works.

Joe the Plumber, better known as Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, 34, of Ohio, gained national attention after Obama told him during a campaign stop that he wanted to "spread the wealth around" and McCain repeatedly cited Joe the Plumber in a debate.