Economy:Barack Obama says the US economy has made slow but steady progress under his administration.
“In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” he told one of his last rallies, in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday.
“Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. The American auto industry is back on top. Home values are on the rise. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in 20 years, and we’ve doubled the production of clean energy across America.”
Mitt Romney says Obama has botched the recovery.
“He was going to focus on creating jobs,” Romney told a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday (right).
“Instead he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs. He said he was going to cut the deficit in half but then he doubled it. He said that unemployment would now be at 5.2 per cent, and . . it’s 7.9 per cent, almost nine million jobs short of what he promised . . . Unemployment today is higher than when Barack Obama took office.”
If Barack Obama wins, the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will come fully into force in 2014, providing coverage for some 30 million additional Americans, who will buy policies on subsidised exchanges. Insurance companies will no longer be able to reject clients on the grounds of pre-existing conditions, or impose ceilings on coverage.
Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office. He says he has confidence in the private sector, not the government, to resolve the healthcare mess. In the final stages of the campaign, Romney relented somewhat, saying he would keep popular elements of Obamacare, such as allowing children to stay on their parents policies until age 26. After avoiding discussion of his own record in enacting near universal healthcare in Massachusetts, Romney has begun citing it as an achievement.
The first piece of legislation signed by Barack Obama after he took office in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, named after a woman who discovered her employer paid her less than men doing the same job.
Obama supports the right to abortion.
Under the Affordable Care Act, his administration has required all employers of more than 50 people, except churches, to provide insurance that includes contraceptives. Obama describes Romney's policies as a "war on women" and maintains a lead among women voters.
Mitt Romney has avoided taking a position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and was ridiculed for saying he recruited "binders full of women" as governor of Massachusetts. Romney supported abortion rights when he stood for governor, but now opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother. He approved of legislation earlier this year that would have allowed any employer to refuse to provide coverage for contraception on moral grounds.
Romney has vowed to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides contraception, pap smears, mammograms and prenatal screenings for more than 20 million American women.
Barack Obama wants to let Bush-era tax cuts expire for households earning more than $250,000 a year, bringing taxes on the wealthy back to levels paid under Bill Clinton (below), “back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well”.
Mitt Romney promises a 20 per cent income tax cut for all Americans, which would reduce taxes on the rich from 35 to 28 per cent. After months of the Obama campaign stressing that millionaires and billionaires would benefit most from the tax cut, Romney said limits on exemptions and deductions will mean the wealthy will not pay less tax. Romney has not explained how he can lower taxes, increase the defence budget and reduce the deficit all at the same time.
Barack Obama was not able to enact comprehensive immigration reform, a key pledge in 2008, because of partisan gridlock in Congress.However, he strengthened support among Hispanic voters by issuing an executive order last June allowing up to 800,000, mostly Hispanic, immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children to avoid deportation and apply for work permits.
Mitt Romney’s tough stance on immigration has seriously impaired his ability to raise support among Hispanics, who comprise one sixth of the US population.
During the primaries, Romney advocated “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants and opposed the ‘Dream Act’ which, if passed, would have the same effect as Obama’s executive order.
Romney is supported by the hardline anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Kris Kobach, the conservative official who drafted Arizona’s draconian law, is an adviser to Romney on immigration.