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2012 Presidential Election Guide
A review of the positions on major issues of the two major party candidates for the 2012 presidential race.

By Staff
Date Posted: 10/1/2012

Note: The following position statements, political records and campaign platforms were taken from a combination of sources including campaign websites, speeches made by the candidates, published news reports, government documents, etc. The claims and statements made by the candidates have not been fact checked for accuracy and may reflect a particular campaign’s bias.


Barack Obama – Democrat

Background: 44th President of the United States, Senator from Illinois, lawyer, visiting fellow at University of Chicago Law School, and Chicago director of the Developing Communities Project.


Overview: President Obama cut taxes for small business owners 18 times. He also signed into law $200 billion in tax relief and incentives to encourage businesses to create jobs and invest in expansion. The Small Business Jobs Act made 4.5 million small businesses eligible for a larger tax break on new investments in equipment and machinery. Obamacare offers businesses a mixture of tax credits and fees depending on whether or not employees participate in new healthcare exchanges.

                President Obama also promoted American entrepreneurship and innovation with the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which would help growing small businesses access financing while keeping investor protections in place.

                In a second term, President Obama has said he would call on Congress to give small businesses a 10% income tax credit for hiring more workers, extend 100% expensing for new investments in 2012 for all businesses, eliminate capital gains taxes for key small-business investments, double the amount of start-up expenses that entrepreneurs can deduct, and allow small businesses to expense up to $1 million in investments while simplifying the tax code for small businesses.


Energy Policy: President Obama wants to double automotive fuel efficiency standards, allow oil and gas drilling that only meets sensitive environmental standards, and promote renewable energy initiatives. He has supported a variety of wind and solar energy development projects and has signaled he would do even more in a second term. President Obama has made one of the most significant federal investments in clean coal technology in history. The Obama administration has attracted more than $10 billion in private investments, and in 2011, employment in the coal sector hit its highest level since 1996.


Healthcare: President Obama passed the most sweeping changes in the healthcare industry in the history of the country. This includes prohibiting the ability of insurance companies to cap coverage or deny coverage when somebody gets sick. 


Regulations: President Obama outlined a plan to create a 21st-century regulatory system.  Earlier this year, he called for a government-wide review of regulations already on the books. As a result of that review, more than two dozen agencies identified initiatives to reduce burdens and save money. Also, President Obama issued an executive order instructing federal agencies to “Always consider costs and reduce burdens for American businesses and consumers when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; simplify rules; promote freedom of choice; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science.”

                Some of the regulatory reforms include removing unnecessary regulatory and reporting requirements now imposed on hospitals and other healthcare providers, potentially saving an anticipated $4 billion over the next five years. He also called for the Department of Labor to finalize a rule to simplify and to improve hazard warnings for workers, likely saving employers over $2.5 billion over the next five years without compromising safety.


Taxes: Generally, Obama favors tax cuts for the middle-class and increases for wealthier Americans. He has called on Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts for the 98% of Americans making less than $250,000 for another year. He remains opposed to the extension of tax cuts for those with household incomes above $250,000 and supports the return of the estate tax exemption and rates to 2009 levels, which would return the top tax rate on estates to 45% and reinstate the $7 million per-couple estate tax exemption. This would exempt all but the wealthiest three in 1,000 decedents from tax.


Budget Cuts: Spending has increased significantly under the last two presidents, and Obama has taken this trend to new spending highs. Obama has offered cuts to discretionary spending although he refused to touch entitlements, which would continue to grow at an alarming rate. President Obama did work with Republicans to develop a fiscal plan that includes $1 trillion in spending cuts. He has proposed a plan to reduce deficit spending by more than $4 trillion over the next decade by cutting significantly from defense and discretionary spending (everything else other than entitlements or defense) as well as increasing taxes on the wealthy.


Immigration: President Obama has strengthened border enforcement through deploying more technology and resources along the Southwest. And earlier this year Obama announced that federal authorities would stop deporting young undocumented immigrants who match certain criteria previously proposed under the Dream Act.



Mitt Romney – Republican

Background: Former Governor of Massachusetts, founder of Bain Capital, successfully oversaw the Salt Lake City Olympics. 


Overview: Mitt Romney has promised to offer five major bills and issue five major executive orders to overturn aspects of Obama’s policy changes. Romney insists these measures would help spur economic growth and free up small businesses.

                Romney said he would call on Congress to reduce the corporate income tax rate to 25%, reinstate the president’s trade promotion authority to facilitate negotiation of new trade agreements, direct the Department of the Interior to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiate leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration, consolidate the sprawl of federal retraining programs and return funding and responsibility for these programs to the states, and immediately cut non-security discretionary spending by 5%, reducing the annual federal budget by $20 billion.

                Romney said he would issue executive orders that direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health care solutions that work best for them, directs all agencies to immediately initiate the elimination of Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy or job creation, caps annual increases in regulatory costs at zero dollars,  calls on the Department of the Interior to implement a process for rapid issuance of drilling permits to developers with established safety records seeking to use pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas, orders the Department of the Treasury to list China as a currency manipulator in its biannual report and directs the Department of Commerce to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to float its currency, and reverses the executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field in favor of organized labor, including the one encouraging  the use of union labor on major government construction projects.


Energy Policy: Mitt Romney would significantly expand the areas available for energy development—including in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Western lands and Alaska. He would also strengthen partnerships with Canada and Mexico to expand opportunities for American companies in the development of those nations’ resources. And he would encourage continued development of unconventional reserves like shale gas and oil that hold enormous promise for expanding the base of U.S. reserves.

                A Romney administration would also streamline federal regulation of energy exploration. This would include creating one-stop shops and imposing fixed timelines for standard permits and approvals. Romney also would accelerate the process for companies with established safety records seeking to employ approved practices in approved areas. He seems less interested in funding alternative energy projects than President Obama. The Romney campaign has suggested he would continue to support government research on energy technology instead of “chasing fads and picking winners.”


Healthcare: Seeking to overturn or reduce the implementation of Obama care is a major campaign pledge of Mitt Romney. He supports a more market-based solution and would pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role would be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

                Romney would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools, prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage and  allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines.


Regulations: Romney would act swiftly to reverse the effect of many of the regulations set in place by the Obama Administration, including Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. Some of these new laws require congressional action to overturn, but Romney would seek to lessen their impact on American businesses until such repeal could be achieved. Romney also would impose a regulatory cap on all agencies at zero dollars, meaning that an agency issuing a new regulation must go through a budget-like process and identify offsetting cost reductions from the existing regulatory burden. Other initiatives in a Romney Administration would include a new, cost-conscious approach to environmental regulation; an increased role for Congress in the approval of new regulations; and reforms to the legal liability system.


Taxes: Romney would push for a fundamental redesign of America’s tax system by making it simpler and broadening the tax base. He would hold the line on individual income tax rates and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains for low-and middle-income taxpayers. He would seek to eliminate the estate tax. Also, he would immediately lower the corporate income tax rate, would begin the process of transitioning to a territorial corporate tax system. A territorial system must be designed to encourage multinational companies to bring their profits back into the U.S. and it must avoid the creation of incentives for outsourcing.


Budget Cuts: The only recipe for fiscal health and a thriving private economy is a government that spends within its means. Romney would immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20% of GDP. As spending comes under control, he would pursue further cuts that would allow caps to be set even lower so as to guarantee future fiscal stability. As a first step in this direction, Romney would move immediately to cut non-security discretionary spending by 5%. Romney would also work to reform Medicaid, converting it to a federal block grant administered by the states. He also would undertake a fundamental restructuring of the federal government that places the burden on the federal agency to establish why a program or service must be provided at the federal level and gives to the private sector and the states whatever functions they can perform more effectively. Finally, he would pursue a Balanced Budget Amendment to ensure that the out-of-control borrowing and spending is not repeated on the federal government level.


Immigration: Romney would implement a national immigration strategy that includes completing a high-tech security fence, adding extra border patrols as needed, reforming the visa and residency status application processes, and eliminating unnecessary red tape.          

                As governor of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants and opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. He also opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration.


Top Campaign Donors for Each Presidential Candidate

Source: www.opensecrets.org  - Center for Responsive Politics

Note: The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the contributions came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.


President Barack Obama

1.) University of California            $702,281

2.) Microsoft Corp                           $544,445

3.) Google Inc.                                   $526,009

4.) Harvard University                    $431,860

5.) U.S. Government                      $396,350

6.) Deloitte LLP                                  $369,201

7.) DLA Piper                                      $367,027

8.) Stanford University                 $326,942

9.) Sidley Austin LLP                        $312,278

10.) Kaiser Permanente                               $302,913

11.) Time Warner                             $295,030

12.) Columbia University               $264,588

13.) Comcast Corp                           $261,274

14.) University of Chicago             $227,525

15.) IBM Corp                                    $218,511


Mitt Romney

1.) Goldman Sachs                           $688,080

2.) Bank of America                         $541,148

3.) JPMorgan Chase & Co             $541,019

4.) Morgan Stanley                          $535,047

5.) Credit Suisse Group                 $433,785

6.) Citigroup Inc.                               $369,015

7.) Barclays                                         $349,400

8.) Wells Fargo                                  $343,000

9.) Kirkland & Ellis                             $310,917

10.) Deloitte LLP                               $292,910

11.) PricewaterhouseCoopers    $272,600

12.) UBS AG                                        $269,630

13.) Blackstone Group   $223,475

14.) HIG Capital                                 $222,995

15.) Elliott Management               $175,475

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