Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Comparison of the U.S. Presidential Candidates’ Policies (on Contentious Issues)

2012 U.S. Republican and Democratic presidential candidates Romney and Obama
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have articulated their policies for governing America over the next four years: they have both advocated the need for a stronger middle class, which would encourage economic recovery; acknowledged the U.S. leadership position on the world stage, especially in relation to its involvement in the Middle East crisis; and have recognized the need to address the U.S. debt which is the highest that it has ever been: over sixteen trillion[1]. The following is a comparison of their respective positions on some of the topical issues of this election season:

The Economy/Taxes:

Under the Obama administration, taxes would increase for people with higher incomes, classified as those with incomes greater than $200,000.00 per year (and $250,000.00 if married). This, according to Romney, would include many small businesses, and by burdening small business (which he refers to as ‘job creators’) would impair their ability to hire people and would so decrease the creation of jobs.

Instead, Romney proposes to raise government funds by closing loopholes in the tax system and cutting funding for many programs, including the Public Broadcasting Service. Additionally, his proposal for taxes includes reducing taxes across the board, with a 20% cut in marginal rates for individuals and reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25%. This would increase American companies’ ability to compete globally and would facilitate job creation and wage increases.

The Military:

Romney has maintained a focus on having a strong military, and stated that he would increase military spending[2]. In his remarks, delivered on October 7, 2011, he described the possible threats from other countries: namely a nuclear armed Iran; Islamic Jihadist from Pakistan; a domineering Russia compelling the reestablishment of the Soviet Union; the alliance of the socialist countries Cuba and Venezuela; overflowing of illegal immigrants and of violence due to the proliferation of drug cartels in Mexico.

President Obama, on the other hand, intends to reduce military spending. This, he said, would free resources for “nation building” in America for objectives such as (re)building infrastructure and establishing programs to address the needs of veterans[3].

Health Care:

Romney stated that on his first day as president, he would do away with Obamacare[4], leaving Medicare to be the only government funded health care program. Further, he would block grant Medicaid and other payments to states rather than distributing the funding via the Federal government. Romney’s position is that the states would be able to manage the program more efficiently and minimise wasted expenditure. The president disagrees with this saying that Romney’s plan would cause many people to pay more for medical coverage.


Both agree that the American troops should be recalled from Afghanistan by the year 2014. President Obama has remained markedly more consistent on this issue in comparison to Romney’s camp which vacillated and appeared unwilling to commit itself. Eventually, in the last Presidential debate, Romney clarified his position stating that things are in place for the troops to be able to leave in 2014 and that they “will come home at that point”[5].


Obama has made it clear that he believes that women should have the right to make decisions about their bodies and their health
care[6]. This comment was made specifically in reference to the issue of abortion.

Romney’s campaign team has been less clear. While his official position on his campaign website states that he is pro-life and only supports abortion in instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, several Republican candidates have voiced contradictory and controversial opinions from which Romney has not distanced himself: Richard Mourdock–"even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen"; Todd Akin–”’legitimate rape’ rarely resulted in pregnancy”; and Rep. Joe Walsh’s expression of scepticism about the necessity of allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk, with the concern that such an exemption to an abortion ban was simply a ploy by of pro-choice activists.

Further muddying the waters is the statement made by his running mate Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate. Ryan believes that the issues should not be determined by the courts (a clear reference to the fact that abortion was pronounced legal in the case of Roe v Wade), but should be left for the consideration of the legislature. This suggests that, at least in Ryan’s view, the issue should be re-visited before the legislature.

[1]; accessed on Oct 31, 2012
[2]; accessed on Oct 30, 2012
[3]; accessed on Oct 30, 2012
[4]; accessed on Oct 30, 2012
[5] Transcript, Presidential debate on Oct 22, 2012; accessed on Oct 30, 2012
[6]; accessed on Oct 30, 2012

By Leanna Seetahal (FDA Researcher, Writer, and Lawyer)

Question for Readers:

Are the policies of Romney overall better than Obama's policies for Americans as a whole considering the fragile American and global economies?

2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States

Republican Democracy Reform Policies

Democrat Democracy Reform Policies

1 comment:

  1. Romney seems to equivicate on most of his standpoints. I think this is probably because a core conservative may find it difficult swaying the minds of voters going by d average American political psyche.This explains why he struggles to wear the mask of a centrist as he continuously adjusts his policy propositions and 'deliberately' refrains from making his positions very clear esp on moral concerns such as abortion. Moreover some of his economic policies dont really add up both in arithmetic and feasibility. Obama, on his side, is bedeviled by some of the bad choices he has made over the course of his tenure esp the national debt and the gloomy unemployment statistics. I pray the American voters make a decision they can live with for the next 4 years. Great job Leena!


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