Now that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has reached the Republican Party’s “magic number” of delegates needed to be named the GOP candidate, Americans will be subjected to five months of red herring mudslinging and distractions from both him and President Barack Obama. Here’s where they stand on some of the top issues about which Rasmussen says Americans care the most.
Obama: Believes that stimulus is the answer to creating more jobs to fix the economy. His first term was marked by a recession that began in the previous Administration and “officially” ended within six months, though Americans continue to feel economic pain. Implemented an $800 billion stimulus plan and provided bailouts for the automobile and financial industries.
Romney: Favored 2008 financial bailouts but opposed automobile industry bailouts. Promises to cap Federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by the end of his first term. Says he will cut Federal workforce by 10 percent, end subsidies to Amtrak to the tune of $1.6 billion and cut $600 million from government spending on arts and broadcasting. His plan would allow the military to spend $4 for every $100 the economy produces, amounting to about $2.1 trillion over 10 years.
Obama: Implemented Obamacare, the individual mandate portion of which — requiring almost everyone to obtain health coverage — is currently being considered by the Supreme Court. The biggest changes under the plan are set to take effect in 2014, among them: banning insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illnesses, providing tax credits for middle-income and low-income people to subsidize premiums, giving people without work-based insurance access to government options, and expanding Medicaid and small business insurance options.
Romney: Wants to repeal Obamacare, even though it was based largely on a plan he implemented as Governor of Massachusetts. Instead of subsidizing insurance premiums, proposes expanding the role of tax advantaged savings accounts in helping low- and middle-income families pay healthcare costs. Does favor subsidies to help retirees buy health insurance, along with still allowing the option for Medicare, with an increased age for benefits. Would allow for insurance to be sold across State lines to increase competitiveness.
Government Ethics And Corruption
Obama: During the campaign for his first term, promised to revolutionize government transparency. On his first full day in office, declared that “government should be transparent” and said that his Administration “is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.” Issued Open Government Directive in 2009. Despite rhetoric, uses many of the same tactics of wartime secrecy in government as George W. Bush. Has failed to provide protection to whistle-blowers who expose government corruption and waste.
Romney: Supports a “tough on terror” stance similar to that of both Bush and Obama, making it likely that he will continue wartime secrecy policies. Has said that he is not interested in auditing the Federal Reserve.
Obama: Central to his plan is to let tax cuts expire for couples making more than $250,000. He claims this will generate more than $700 billion over 10 years. Favors a 30 percent tax rate on taxpayers making more than $1 million, which he says will generate about $47 billion over 10 years.
Romney: Wants to lower all taxes by 20 percent while curtailing deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest people. For families making less than $200,000, he wants to end capital gains taxes. Would cut the corporate tax from the current 35 percent to 25 percent.
Obama: Has continued to push green energy agenda. Subsidized failed solar energy firm Solyndra and has continued to push for automakers to make more “green” vehicles despite lack of success selling them. Rejected Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Romney: Would cut back the push for green energy and proposes to remove carbon dioxide from the list of pollutants on the Clean Air Act to lower cost of compliance with environmental regulation for industry. Promises to reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development, and accelerate drilling permits.
Obama: Has given States the ability to opt out of some of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind requirements if they improve student evaluation procedures. Got approval for a college tax credit of up to $10,000 and increased funding for Pell grants for low-income college students. Has asked Congress to put in place reforms that would deduct Federal aid to colleges that raise tuition too high. Has been complimented by many Republicans for his efforts to rein in teachers’ unions.
Romney: Supports many of the policies set forth in No Child Left Behind. Once said the U.S. should do away with the Education Department, but in 2007 reversed his view because he believes it is a valuable tool in keeping teachers’ unions from becoming too powerful. Agrees with student testing, charter-school incentives and teacher evaluation standards of Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition among the States.
Obama: Has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to address Social Security’s long-term financial problems. In 2011, proposed adopting a new measurement of inflation that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits.
Romney: Wants reform, but no changes for people who are already retired or 55 years of age and older. For others would lower the rate of inflation growth in the benefits received by higher-income recipients and keep the rate as it is now for lower income recipients. Plans to “add a year or two” to the retirement age under Social Security.
Obama: Attacked States like Arizona for controversial, tough-on-immigration legislation, claiming passage would create a “patchwork system” and undercut overarching Federal immigration regulations. Sent unmanned drones to patrol the border and ramped up deportations in an effort to appease States considering immigration legislation. Criticized for pushing for more visas for educated and highly skilled math, science and engineering workers to come to the United States.
Romney: Wants to builds a U.S./ Mexico border fence. Would not offer legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Wants more visas for holders of advanced degrees in math, science and engineering who have U.S. job offers. Would award permanent residency to foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools with a degree in those fields.
National Security/War on Terror
Obama: Promised to close the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, yet failed to do so. Reauthorized Bush-era Patriot Act that allows for spying on U.S. citizens and immensely grows the Nation’s defense apparatus. Signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention or assassination of American citizens deemed terrorists by the government. Continues to use drones to kill suspected terrorists in countries with which the United States is not currently at war. Ended war in Iraq, but has not been able to do so in Afghanistan. Reached agreement with Congressional Republicans to cut $487 billion in military spending over a decade. Never served in military.
Romney: Supports Patriot Act. Supports NDAA. Believes Obama was wrong to begin reducing troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as he did. Wants to increase the size of armed forces, including the number of troops and warships, and would add almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget by 2016. Says Obama has been too lenient on Iran and agrees with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a strike on Iran will likely prove necessary. Was eligible for draft in Vietnam, but received a deferment for missionary work in France.
Following is a list of the organizations whose individual members, employees, owners or PACS donated the most to the candidates, according to opensecrets.org:
Obama Top Contributors
|University of California||$261,846|
|Sidley Austin LLP||$240,846|
|Skadden, Arps, et al.||$153,059|
|Morgan & Morgan||$135,145|
|U.S. Department of State||$131,032|
|National Amusements Inc.||$109,389|
|Mayer Brown LLP||$108,032|
|University of Chicago||$104,617|
Romney Top Contributers
|JPMorgan Chase & Co||$415,075|
|Bank of America||$398,850|
|Credit Suisse Group||$317,410|
|Kirkland & Ellis||$248,052|
|Citadel Investment Group||$127,125|
|Bain & Co.||$123,050|