Election 2012: Where Obama and Romney Stand on the Issues? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Election 2012: Where Obama and Romney Stand on the Issues?

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THE CANDIDATES ON THE ISSUES

Abortion

ROMNEY: Although maintaining he personally didn't favor abortion, said he supported Roe v. Wade in his 1994 and 2002 bids for office. But during his ‘08 presidential bid, stressed his opposition to abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life. And in 2012, said that he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

OBAMA: Has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights, and has used the issue of reproductive rights to hit Romney, especially in the Northern Virginia and Denver media markets. Critics have accused the federal health-care law of using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions – a charge the White House denies; Obama even issued an executive order to ensure federal funds aren't being used to pay for abortion services.  Critics also argued that the health-care law's mandate that insurance plans provide free access to contraception violates the religious beliefs of Catholic institutions. The law exempts churches from this requirement, but it doesn't exempt religious-affiliated institutions (like universities, charities, and hospitals). In Feb. 2012, Obama announced a compromise where women who work for these religious-affiliated groups would have contraception coverage, but would obtain it directly through their insurers.

 

Afghanistan

ROMNEY: Has not articulated a clear position on Afghanistan. Repeatedly spoke out against issuing timelines, saying they showed President Obama's "naiveté." But then endorsed a 2014 drawdown – the same timeline issued by the president. Also during a GOP presidential primary debate, raised eyebrows when he said, "But I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban." Yet in later debates, said he wouldn't negotiate with the Taliban; in fact, he said he would beat them. But that would only require a longer U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.

OBAMA: In 2009, the president announced a surge of some 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Three years later, the U.S. said troops would be drawn down by 2014 – but the president also signed an agreement committing to work with Afghanis as they move to secure their own country through 2024. Also part of that agreement, the U.S. will get access to Afghan facilities, but the U.S. will not seek permanent bases there. But Afghanistan has seen an uptick in violence, and NATO forces have been faced with the problem of their security forces being killed and targeted by soldiers in Afghan uniforms.

 

Economy

ROMNEY: According to the economic plan he unveiled in Sept. 2011 and the major economic speech he delivered in Feb. 2012, Romney wants to cut individual tax rates (a 20% reduction in marginal taxes), corporate tax rates (to 25%), and taxes on capital gains and dividends. In addition, he advocates reducing regulations, increasing domestic energy production, and expanding free trade. And he believes that economic growth requires spending discipline – supporting a cap on spending and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.  Most recently, Romney has boiled down his economic message to five principles: 1) take advantage of domestic energy resources, 2) give Americans the job skills they need, 3) forge new trade agreements, 4) balance the budget, and 5) reduce taxes.

OBAMA: His signature economic measure was the $787 billion stimulus, which non-partisan observers (like the Congressional Budget Office) believe reduced unemployment and increased economic growth – but which also didn't lead to an economic boom.  In Aug. 2012, the unemployment rate was at 8.1%, which is below where it was during Obama's first full month in office (and down from its high of 10.0% in Aug. 2009). The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 43-straight months.  In Sept. 2011 – after the bruising debt-ceiling showdown – Obama introduced his American Jobs Act, which included extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, giving tax cuts to small businesses that hire new workers, and investing in transportation and new schools. Congress did pass some of the measures (like the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance) but didn't act on others.

 Health care

ROMNEY: His plan in Massachusetts is widely regarded as the blueprint for the president's national plan. (He recently acknowledged being the "grandfather of Obamacare.") Romney doesn't back away from his plan, but has drawn a very fine distinction – that it was good at a state level, but shouldn't be implemented at a federal one.  If elected, Romney vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with narrower provisions like reforming medical malpractice rules and making sure people with preexisting conditions are not dropped from their health insurance. The last provision landed Romney in some controversy when, on Meet the Press, he said, "I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in healthcare reform that I'm going to put in place." He later walked that back, saying, "ObamaCare must be repealed – in its entirety."  But added that he would push a plan that included not allowing people to "be dropped from their insurance if they get ill."

OBAMA: It took a lot of political capital – and may have cost Democrats the U.S. House in 2010 – but President Obama's Affordable Care Act represents his biggest domestic achievement. It then became the subject of state-based lawsuits and then upheld by a narrow 5-4 majority by the U.S. Supreme Court. At the heart of those cases is the so-called individual mandate, which requires all adults to have health insurance. Obama's support for a mandate might have been his biggest flip-flop. He campaigned against it for nearly two years and then implemented it as president. Though Republicans have derisively termed the Affordable Care Act "ObamaCare," the president now fully embraces the moniker.

 Immigration

ROMNEY: During his GOP presidential primary fights in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, opposed comprehensive immigration reform, even though he seemed to endorse a path to citizenship in a 2006 interview. He also advocated building a wall building a fence/wall between the U.S. and Mexico. But after President Obama announced his administration's policy to no longer deport qualified young illegal immigrants, Romney said he would work to achieve a long-term solution to immigration (yet Romney refused to say whether he would overturn this executive action if he wins the White House).  Also during the '12 primary season, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act; he touted the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who helped co-author Arizona's controversial immigration law); and he called for the "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants, saying: "People decide they can do better by going home because they can`t find work here because they don`t have legal documentation to allow them to work here."

OBAMA: In 2008, campaigned on passing comprehensive immigration reform, but was unable to achieve that – blaming opposition from congressional Republicans (including some who previously backed comprehensive immigration reform).  Also tried to pass the DREAM Act – an effort to give some children of illegal immigrants a chance at legal status – but the legislation wasn't able to get the 60 votes in the Senate needed to clear a procedural hurdle.  After his administration had overseen a record number of illegal immigrant deportations, Obama announced on June 15, 2012 that it would no longer deport young illegal immigrants who have graduated from high school, served in the military, and have a clean criminal record – a modification of the DREAM Act.

 

Iran

ROMNEY: Has taken an especially harsh tone toward Obama on this issue, calling it perhaps the president's "biggest failure." Says Obama's policies have not prevented Iran from pursuing development of a nuclear weapon. Because of the threat Iran poses to Israel, the subject of Iran was a hot topic in the OP presidential primary. Romney's plan toward Iran involves: 1) demonstrating military strength and readiness; 2) increasing military and intelligence coordination with Israel to be "ready to deal with Iran"; 3) pursuing a fifth round of sanctions; 4) indicting Ahmadinejad for "genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide"; 5) supporting the Iranian opposition.

OBAMA: Under President Obama, the U.S. pursued diplomatic avenues with Iran, then tough sanctions through the United Nations, and even a degree of cyber war. (The U.S. was reportedly involved in attacking the computer system of one of Iran's nuclear facilities.) The president has had a strained relationship at times with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu, in part, because of the president's early insistence that Israel halt settlement expansion as a condition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Netanyahu has called for the U.S. to set "red lines" against Iran – something the White House and State Department have declined to do.

 Medicare

ROMNEY: Has essentially endorsed the latest version of the Ryan budget plan, which substantially transforms Medicare by giving future seniors a payment – Democrats call it a "voucher," Republicans call it "premium support" – to purchase health insurance. Under Ryan's plan, seniors would have the choice of buying private insurance or through Medicare's traditional fee-for-service model.  In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office said the original Ryan plan – which didn't provide the choice of remaining in Medicare – would force most seniors to pay more for their health care than under the current Medicare system. Romney stresses that any Medicare changes would apply to future seniors (starting in 2022) and that lower-income seniors would receive more generous benefits. But he also advocates raising Medicare's eligibility age.  Romney also has issued a counterattack to Democratic charges that the Romney-Ryan plan would substantially transform Medicare – he has accused Obama of raiding $716 billion from the program to pay for the health-care law.

OBAMA: Instead of substantially transforming Medicare – as Romney and the Republicans advocate – Obama supports making tweaks to shore up the program. Those tweaks include asking wealthy seniors to pay more and reducing subsidies to drug companies. But his biggest reform came with the health-care law, which created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (whose members are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate) to identify additional savings in Medicare.  The health-care law also found $716 billion in Medicare savings (primarily in payments to providers and insurers, not in payments to beneficiaries), which extended the solvency of the program's trust fund until 2024.  During the debt-ceiling talks, according to the Huffington Post, Obama offered to increase Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 67 to get Republicans to accept increased tax revenues.

 

Social Security

ROMNEY: Advocates raising the retirement age for future seniors to shore up Social Security's finances. Wants poor recipients to receive more generous benefits, and thinks wealthier recipients should receive less.

OBAMA: Has called for a bipartisan approach to shoring up Social Security's finances. Backs raising the income cap on Social Security taxes (now at about $107,000) as a way to get more revenues for the program. Opposes increasing the retirement age.