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.


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.


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.


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.

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Comment Sorting
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.

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