News / USA

    Obama, Romney Poles Apart on Domestic Issues

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and US President Barak Obama face eachother in 3rd debate, October 22, 2012.
    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and US President Barak Obama face eachother in 3rd debate, October 22, 2012.
    Ken Bredemeier
    U.S. President Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent seeking a second, four-year term in the White House, and his Republican challenger, wealthy businessman Mitt Romney, have sparred on the campaign trail over a variety of issues facing American voters.

    Here are their contrasting views on several important domestic issues.

    Economy

    The state of the U.S. economy has emerged as the central concern for the American electorate. The U.S. economy, the world’s largest, fell into a deep recession in 2008 and 2009, its worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and it has been slow to recover.  The national economy grew 2 percent in the last three months, a sluggish advance.


    Source: tradingeconomics.com

    More than 12 million workers remain unemployed.  The 7.8 percent jobless rate recorded in September was the lowest of the Obama presidency, but it is high by historical standards in the U.S., where the rate is normally closer to 5 percent.  Since WW II, no U.S. president has been re-elected with a jobless rate above 7.4 percent.

    U.S. businesses have added jobs for more than two-and-a-half years, but it was only recently that the cumulative total during Obama’s term topped the number of jobs lost in the first months of his White House tenure.  He has cited the steady job growth as evidence that his policies are working.  The president has also told voters that the government’s bailout of U.S. automakers that he supported saved the industry from demise, and that sharp, new regulation of Wall Street he signed into law over Republican opposition will prevent the kind of corporate excesses that contributed to the depth of the recession.

    In his campaign, Romney has made his strongest attacks against the president’s economic record, saying Obama was handed a bad economy when he took office but made it worse. The Republican challenger says that with lower taxes, sharp cuts in government spending and the elimination of numerous regulations on businesses supported by Obama, the U.S. economy would grow much faster under a Romney presidency.

    Romney has told voters his administration would add 12 million jobs to the U.S. economy over the next four years, a substantially faster pace than is now occurring.  He has put forward a five-point plan to spur the economy, including greater U.S. energy independence from foreign oil imports, a cut in the federal government’s chronic budget deficits and new overseas trade deals to promote American exports.
     
    Taxes, government spending

    In a short version of their views, Obama, like most Democrats in the U.S., supports a more robust role for the federal government in American life, while Romney and fellow Republicans envision a sharply shrunken footprint for the national government.

    Still, the person who is elected will have to manage a federal budget that under  Obama’s watch has annually spent over $1 trillion more than it has collected in taxes.  The country’s cumulative national debt now totals more than $16 trillion.

    Congress is faced with spending decisions it must take by the end of the year, even before Obama or Romney takes the presidential oath of office in January.  Other spending choices are looming in the first weeks of 2013.  Obama failed two years ago to reach a long-term deal with congressional Republicans to rein in deficit spending and trim the national debt over the next decade, but he has said he will try again if re-elected.

    During their campaigns, the two candidates have largely avoided disclosing what specific federal programs they would like to cut or keep.  But they have diverged on their views of U.S. taxation.

    Obama wants to raise taxes on the country’s wealthiest taxpayers -- including, as he tells voters, himself and  Romney.  The tax increase would hit couples making more than $250,000 annually.

    Romney says he wants to keep the existing tax rates for all taxpayers, including cuts enacted during the Republican administration of President George W. Bush, and then trim them by another 20 percent. But he has declined to specify which tax breaks he would end to cover the cost of a new tax cut.
     
    Health care

    The 2010 congressional approval of a national health care overhaul was Obama’s signature domestic legislative achievement in the last four years.  It set the U.S. on a path toward universal health care, but in two years will require all Americans to pay a tax if they do not have medical insurance.  Only Democratic lawmakers supported the sweeping measure: not a single Republican in Congress voted for it.

    The law came to be popularly known as Obamacare, first as derision from Republicans, although the president now uses the term as well.  Its constitutionality was challenged by conservatives opposed to it, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it earlier this year.

    Romney has vowed to repeal the law if he becomes president, saying it is an unwarranted federal takeover of the U.S. health care system.  But his stance is complicated by the fact that the national law is patterned after a law adopted in Massachusetts when Romney was governor of the northeastern state.  The Republican candidate says individual states should be allowed to adopt their own health care policies, just as Massachusetts did.

    Abortion

    Obama supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.

    Romney once supported the same ruling, but now says he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or if a mother’s life is in danger.  The Republican says the 1973 decision should be reversed in a new high court ruling and abortion laws left up to individual states.

    Gay rights

    Last May, in a change from his past stance, the president announced that he supports legal recognition of same-sex marriage - an issue on which, surveys show, Americans are closely divided.  Obama has also rescinded the country’s ban on openly gay people serving in the country’s military.

    Romney says that marriage is between a man and a woman and opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage.  He says same-sex marriage should be banned with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    November 02, 2012 8:11 AM
    Yes, I think both have good reasons to have someone say yes on each subject. First of all, I love your way to select president in the U.S. as competing in policies with honest assertions in public. It's an absolutely fair way. I think recombent Obama is behaind the majority of loosers, the disadvantaged people, while Romni is behind the minority of winners, the mightier and the advantaged people. Now the problem seems for me which side the next president of federal government should take thoughtfully taking account of local autonomy of each state.

    by: Joe from: Michigan
    November 01, 2012 11:14 AM
    It all comes down to what the American people want, another four years of Obama and his quasi-socialist policies, or elect Romney who is nothing but a constant flip-flopper hypocrite on all the issues and a terrible businessman.
    What we need is an independent like Nader or Perot to get elected for once.

    by: richard from: umbang
    November 01, 2012 11:02 AM
    Your unemployment graph is misleading. It would appear unemployment rate went down by more than half. Not true. Scale it from zero to ten and you will get the true picture. Unemployment is still way above. Who are you trying to fool, the electorate ?

    by: Joyce Edwards
    November 01, 2012 8:52 AM
    Romney has repeatetedly said that he wants to put more of the tax burdens on the states thus saving him from having to raise taxes. This would just make states who contain a wealthy population wealtier and those states who have poor population poorer.The old the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. A excellent, and timely example of this of this is his remark about the removal of FEMA. It is some of our poorest states that get the hardardest by these horrilbe hurricanes,year after year. We can't leave these states to defend themselfs,and if you say, oh well they chose to life there, wait till it happens to you.

    Wait untill he tells the border states,Texas,New Mexico,Calif, that they have to cover the cost of controlling the borders on their own . It would bankrupt everyone of those states.And it's not their fault they border on Mexico. Romney is going to kill us with his policies. Just wait.It's only a matter of time.

    by: Elegy Swift from: Chicago
    November 01, 2012 8:32 AM
    It's unfortunate, especially when it comes to taxes and government spending, that both Obama and Romney have been a bit ambiguious with what exactly would be cut. The difference however, is we still don't know what kind of president Romney would be. His willingness to portray himself in whichever light is most favorable (ie. far right in primaries, Moderate Mitt now) may be an effective method in getting votes, but do we really want to elect a question mark candidate? I think if Mitt wins it will truly show the stupidity of the American people because no one, seemgingly not even Romney himself, knows what he's going to do if he wins office.

    In Response

    by: Jack from: Washington State
    November 01, 2012 9:37 AM
    I agree with your assessment of most of the folks who are voting for Romney. When I ask someone I know, they invariably say something like, "I just can't stand Obama." They virtually never extole the virtues of a Romney ticket. Most of them don't really know what he stands for. Personally, I totally understand why the wealthiest amoung us would vote for Romney, but I will be darned if I understand why anyone else would go against their own best interests.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.