Where they stand on the key issues
This article first appeared in The Straits Times on Oct 1, 2012.
The Straits Times' Chua Chin Hon takes a look at US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's positions on key issues at home and abroad, ahead of their debate on Thursday morning, Singapore time.
Obama: "Everybody should get a fair shot, everybody should do his fair share, and everybody should play by the same rules."
- Taxes: Make millionaires pay at least 30 per cent of their incomes in taxes and prevent them from exploiting loopholes in the system. End tax breaks for companies shipping jobs abroad.
- Government spending: Take a "balanced approach" that combines higher taxes with targeted spending cuts so that the social safety net and investments for the future are not gutted.
- Deficit reduction: Cut US$4 trillion (S$5 trillion) over 10 years by letting the Bush-era (2001-2008) tax cuts for top earners expire, reducing combat forces abroad, lowering payments to government-run entitlement programmes, and other cuts to discretionary spending.
- Trade: Toughen trade enforcement, particularly against China. Aims to double US exports by 2015
Romney: "Restore the principles of freedom that made America's economy work in the first place."
- Taxes: Extend the Bush-era tax cuts, cut individual income tax rates by 20 per cent, and slash the corporate income tax rate from the current 35 per cent to 25 per cent.
- Government spending: Reduce federal government spending to below 20 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), repeal federal programmes like the new health-care law passed in 2010, give less money for foreign aid, and reduce government workforce by 10 per cent.
- Deficit reduction: Plans to balance the budget in eight to 10 years.
- Trade: Pursue new free trade agreements, complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and crack down on China's "unfair trade practices" by labelling it a "currency manipulator" on Day One of his presidency.
Obama: "Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone."
- Multilateralism: Elevated the status of the Group of 20 nations, and became the first US president to attend the East Asia Summit.
- Asia pivot: Announced a shift of attention and resources towards the Asia-Pacific region late last year.
- Calculated risk-taker: Exercised greater caution in deploying military force than his predecessor, but took a major gamble when he had Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his sights.
Romney: "America leads the free world, and the free world leads the entire world."
- Unapologetic on US values: Argues that he would never "apologise" for American values or its way of life.
- Bolster alliances: Promises to leave no ambiguities about the strength of US commitment to allies, particularly Israel.
- Reform foreign aid: Wants to tie US foreign aid to economic strings, that is, granting assistance in exchange for the removal of trade barriers and access to local markets.
Obama: "Over the past 10 years, since Sept 11, our defence budget grew at an extraordinary pace. Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defence budget will slow, but it will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership."
- Sharp cuts: Under a deal struck by Democrats and Republicans in August last year to deal with runaway federal spending and the country's debt limit, the Pentagon will cut its budget by US$487 billion over the next 10 years. But this figure could rise to nearly US$1 trillion if lawmakers do not act to defuse a fiscal "trigger" that would unleash additional spending cuts.
Romney: "America will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it."
- Reverse the cuts: Mr Romney has vowed to reverse the deep military spending cuts passed by Congress, and wants to increase the annual shipbuilding rate from nine to 15.
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