Obama and Romney on the economy and the role of government
Rev Up The Economy Both candidates believe that their policies will pay off for families. "I know times are tough for parents, but we're making progress," says Obama. "What's at stake is whether we will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement, or whether we go backward to the same top-down, trickle-down economics that caused the crisis in the first place." The solution is investing in "education, infrastructure, and innovation that have always been the pillars of an economy that creates jobs and grows from a growing middle class," he says.
"Within weeks of taking office, I cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, helping our economy get going. Since then I've cut taxes for the typical middle-class family by $3,600 and cut taxes for small businesses 18 times, helping them grow and hire." But additional tax reform is also required, he contends, including his proposed Buffett Rule, which would ensure that no household making more than $1 million a year would pay a smaller percentage of income in taxes than a middle-class family. "Governor Romney and his Republican friends in Congress believe in a tax plan that would cut taxes for the richest Americans, on top of making the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent. But they can't pay for a plan like that without raising taxes on the middle class."
Not so, says Romney. "A major element of my tax-reform plan is cutting tax rates by an additional 20 percent across-the-board, ensuring that fundamental tax reform benefits every single tax-paying American," he says, which will "allow middle-class families to keep more of what they earn and will help them better afford the rising costs of daily necessities like food, gas, and energy." He also wants to repeal Obama's health plan, which he says will bring savings for families.
"Middle-class moms are struggling each day to make ends meet," says Romney. "My Plan for a Stronger Middle Class creates 12 million jobs and more than doubles our current rate of economic growth. I will increase energy production, provide Americans with the educational skills to succeed, open new markets for American goods and services, and cut runaway government spending."
Target Inefficiency And Polarization "Government waste is rampant," Romney tells us. If elected, his administration will "go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: 1) Can we afford it? 2) If not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it? In this time of fiscal crisis, I will work to improve the productivity and efficiency of the federal government itself." Romney was not more specific about such cuts. "We'll work to empower states by sending programs that are currently controlled by the federal government back to the state level."
Obama, too, says that zapping waste continues to be a critical issue. "That's why I signed legislation that brings annual domestic spending to the lowest levels as a share of the economy since President Eisenhower was in office," he asserts. "We have no choice but to redouble our efforts to scour the budget for waste and make tough decisions about ending funding for programs that aren't working."
He pointed to the Affordable Care Act's potential to "strengthen Medicare by getting rid of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies."
Not surprisingly, both candidates agree there is not enough cooperation between the two parties. "When I was governor of Massachusetts, the legislature was composed almost entirely of Democrats, yet we found common ground," says Romney. "As president, I will bring this type of approach to governing."
Obama says that a lot of Republicans think that compromise is a dirty word. "But I disagree. Moving our country forward requires compromise. So this campaign is still about ordinary folks who believe that in the face of great odds, we can make a difference for our country."
Reduce The Role Of Government Many of the mothers who helped formulate The Parents Platform believed that the government is too involved in our lives. "We need a smaller, smarter, simpler government," says Romney. "The American people, not government, make this country great. We can address this by acknowledging that the federal government must stop doing things that the American people cannot afford."
While agreeing that government can't fix all of society's problems, Obama paraphrases Abraham Lincoln to make his point: "Through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves." He goes on to say, "That's how we built this country—together. We constructed railroads and highways, the Hoover Dam, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We instituted a minimum wage and rules that protect people's bank deposits—together. And together we're making health insurance more affordable and Wall Street and Main Street play by the same rules."
But in one area, there is little common ground between the two: the issue of abortion. Although Romney's views were more nuanced in the past, he couldn't have been clearer with us. "I am firmly pro-life and oppose abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother," he tells us, adding that he would not do anything to prohibit access to "many methods of preventing pregnancy that do not harm or terminate human life."
Obama, who is pro-choice, says his Affordable Care Act also gives women "more power to make their own choices about their health care," including birth control. " I don't think we need a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health-care decisions on behalf of women."
Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.