For reference, the best non-partisan overviews I’ve found for each candidate’s positions:
- Obama’s Political Positions in Wikipedia
- Romney’s Political Positions in Wikipedia
- AP: Comparing the actual policy positions of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
For all the data used below, I try to use only non-partisan and mainstream sources. No partisan blogs to make the points.
- I don’t think we need a tax plan that cuts taxes for the upper 5% by raising taxes for the lower 95%. To me, the upper 5% seems to be doing OK without needing any extra help from the government. Definitely not at the expense of the middle class.
Note: study also used dynamic scoring with a model from one of Romney’s advisers to account growth due to tax cuts and found no significant difference in the results. Romney’s own advisers “estimated that a broad-based income tax cut […] would recoup only about a quarter of the lost revenue through supply-side growth effects.”
- If one extreme is you close the budget deficit solely with tax increases and the other extreme is to close it solely with spending cuts, then isn’t the centrist way to close it with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases? Romney said he wouldn’t accept even a 10:1 deal (10 dollars of spending cuts for every 1 dollar of revenue increase). Obama has suggested a 3:1 deal (3 dollars of spending cuts for every 1 dollar of revenue increase).
- I don’t see the logic in increasing our deficit by $2.1 trillion over the next decade by raising government spending on defense from 3.5% of the GDP to 4%. To my knowledge, Romney has specified no spending offsets to pay for this increase, which implies it will come from deficit spending.
- Ignoring rhetoric (no one’s ever in favor of increasing the deficit), the data shows the deficit usually gets worse under Republican presidents. Never in my lifetime has a Republican president decreased the debt of his predecessor.
- We’re told deficit reduction is about making “hard choices”. I agree, but I don’t see any hard choices for the very rich in Romney’s plan. They’re being asked to accept a cut to their taxes. That’s not a “hard choice”. That’s not shared sacrifice. That’s a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class.
- The biggest legislative reason for our debt in the past decade is the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts. I’m very skeptical of Romney pledging to further cut taxes without specifying how he’s going to pay for it. If history is any guide, there is a good chance this will result in further deficit increases.
- Romney’s budget plan (tax cuts targeted at high earners, increased defense spending, no specifics on spending cuts) sounds the same as Bush’s 2004 plan, which ended in large deficits and a GDP crash:
President Bush and members of his administration have promised to cut that deficit in half by 2009 — by spurring faster economic growth that will lead to higher tax revenue, and by Bush’s pledge to hold the line on spending.
But Bush hasn’t offered any more specifics for cutting the deficit.
- I don’t think Romney’s Bush-like job policies (large tax cuts for high earners to attempt achieving faster growth) would do better than Obama’s policies. Looking at the BLS data below, unemployment was 4.2% for Bush’s first full month in office (Feb. 2001) and 8.3% for Obama’s first full month in office (Feb. 2009). In so much as their policies affected unemployment, here’s how it changed from their initial conditions:
- Obama (current, September 2012, 7.8%): 6% decrease since beginning of first term
- Bush (end of first term, Jan. 2005, 5.3%): 26% increase in unemployment since beginning of first term
- Bush (end of second term, Jan. 2009, 7.8%): 86% increase in unemployment since beginning of first term, 47% increase in unemployment since beginning of second term
If unemployment under Obama had changed at the same rate it did under the best term of Bush policies (2001-2005), it would currently be at 10.5% instead of 8.3% (under the worst term of Bush policies, it would be 12.2%).
Note: I haven’t found any info that Romney is proposing an economic plan significantly different than Bush’s.
- I can’t find any data to answer this question:
how do you conclude from the last 10 years that our big economic problem has been not enough high income tax cuts?
— Austan Goolsbee (@Austan_Goolsbee) April 26, 2012
- 80% of top economists agree stimulus reduced unemployment. Only 4% disagree. Only 12% think the costs will end up exceeding the benefits.
- Even Mitt Romney agrees that under some circumstances government spending can prevent job loss:
His [Obama and Congress’s] trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs
- Obamacare was a Republican plan (for the 20 years just prior to Obama’s election). Mitt Romney was a far better advocate for the policy than Obama ever was. We’ve had universal emergency health care since Reagan signed it into law and now we have a more structured way to pay for it. I think Obamacare was the centrist approach to health care reform.
- 86% of Medicaid spending goes to children, the disabled, and the elderly (as shown by the first graph below). Those are the people that inherently have no other way to get health insurance. 60% of nursing home residents use Medicaid for at least part of their payment. Chances are if you’ve ever had a parent, grand-parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, they were receiving Medicaid payments. As the second graph below shows, Paul Ryan’s budget would cut Medicaid spending by 75%. That’s right, 75 percent.
- Obamacare was basically paid for and doesn’t increase the deficit. There are caveats about the “Doc Fix” which may make the first decade closer to revenue neutral rather than a deficit reduction, but it’s still far from the deficit impact of the 2003 Medicare part D bill, which Paul Ryan voted for, that increases the deficit in this decade by $727 billion.
- I prefer a leader who didn’t co-sponsor a bill regulating “forcible rape”. Our country has many complex problems to solve…I don’t think regulating rape is one of them.
- To reduce abortions, I believe you have to reduce the demand, not just the supply. For example, more access to birth control and better health care availability for mother and child.
- I think divorce, pornography, and extramarital affairs are a bigger threat to marriage than gay marriage. I don’t think it’s the government’s place to make any of those illegal.
- I think immigration policy in this direction makes more sense than Romney’s “self-deportation” idea.
- I think Obama’s DREAM Act is closer to how Reagan did immigration reform than what Romney is proposing.
- Amazing accomplishment from the special forces team all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief. No apologies to Pakistan. And sometimes you want a commander-in-chief to “move heaven and earth” for one person.
Wikipedia: History of the United States Public Debt
Wikipedia: United States Public Debt
Wikipedia: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)