Deciding the Future of America

By Michael J. Lockhart

The debates are over, the agendas are set and the final stretch to the 2012 Presidential Election is underway. We break down the debates and the issues you need to know to make the right choice.

Culminating in last night’s foreign policy debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, the candidates’ performance in the four debates has ranged from a lackluster Obama (stalling in the domestic component on October 3rd in Denver) to an increasingly impudent Romney (whose responses repeatedly ballooned into media frenzy).

While certain political gaffes and retorts will be remembered by the general populace —“Big Bird,” “horses and bayonets” and the now-classic “binders full of women”—each of these viral terms have captured the most politically engaged audience members on Twitter. In fact, the three 90-minute debates combined saw approximately 24 million tweets, which nearly blots out the numbers from 2008 when Twitter was new, when Obama had only 112,000 followers compared to his current 21.3 million.

With decision day not two weeks away and the Dem-GOP vote share tied at 47 percent, we’ve recapped the most important platforms of this election, presented in context with the respective candidates’ debate proclamations, for you, the voters, to judge the field and make an informed decision.

[Editor’s note: While the campaign issues below present an essential view into the electoral platforms of the candidates, this article serves solely to illustrate the most pertinent arguments, promises, and statements in the context of the three Presidential debates and omits peripheral election platforms, issues and discourse that have been presented outside this context in the wider campaign.]

Federal Deficit: A balanced reduction of the deficit will allow the government to invest in critical areas such as infrastructure, job creation and helping to rebuild America: “I’ve put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan…The way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for a dollar of additional revenue, paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit.” Energy: While America needs to control its own oil and gas energy sources and develop additional production, it’s important for the U.S. to invest in the energy sources of the future. Taxes: The tax code needs to be changed to help small businesses invest in the United States. Overall, the corporate tax rate should be reduced to 25 percent. Job Creation: Under Obama, the U.S. has seen 30 continuous months of added private sector jobs. Will focus on building manufacturing jobs within the U.S. Immigrants: The U.S. needs to fix a broken immigration system, making it easier and less expensive for immigrants to contribute to American society. Additional border patrol for illegal crossings has been effective with the lowest numbers in 40 years. The DREAM act provided for pathways administratively, and resources should be better spent on criminals, not students or those trying to make an effort.

Federal Deficit: New economic plan of cutting costs and closing loopholes could result in a balanced budget within 8 to 10 years. Taxes: Provide tax relief for the middle class but not those with high incomes. Lower taxes for businesses, but to keep revenue steady, lower deductions, credits and exemptions to account for growth. Energy: Oil and gas production is higher now but has occurred on private, not public, land. Permits on homeowners’ land would be doubled, and additional oil would come from offshore, Alaska and the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. The U.S. needs to be energy independent. Job Creation: Believes Obama’s efforts to combat the country’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate have been unsuccessful; Romney’s five-point plan would aim to create 12 million new jobs in four years. Auto Industry: Believes that Obama’s support for electric carmakers was not “investing” in research; the money could have been better spent on universities and think-tanks. Romney would have liquidated Detroit in 2009. Immigrants: Legal system should be streamlined so that qualified, skilled immigrants can come to the U.S. and work without hiring a lawyer. The children of those who came to America illegally should have pathways available to becoming a permanent resident, for example, joining the military.

[Editor’s Note: Obama’s Health Platform is primarily the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) which was signed into law March 23, 2010]

“The essence of [Romney’s] plan is that he would turn Medicare into a voucher program.” Vouchers wouldn’t keep up with health-care inflation; it’s estimated this would cost the average senior about $6,000 each year. Traditional Medicare would continue but would eventually collapse as the insurance companies cover the younger citizens, leaving more expensive individuals in Medicare.

Health premiums that will currently rise $2,500 per family when [Obamacare] is fully implemented will be reversed. Health care will be the responsibility of each state to craft its own insurance programs, and this will restore $716 billion to Medicare and cover the four million individuals set to lose the Medicare advantage.

Investing in education is vital to long-term competitiveness for the country and attracting firms to set up in the U.S. with a trained, highly skilled American workforce. Ensure community colleges are offering opportunities for workers to be retrained for the current market.

To allow students to attend college, 1) continue the Pell Grant program to provide adequate scholarships and 2) continue to fund student loans already available at the federal level.

Women in the workplace: The Lilly Ledbetter bill, the first bill Obama signed in office, resulted in policy for gender pay-equity in the workplace. Advocacy such as this is needed as women increasingly become the top income earners in the household. “This is not just a women’s issue; it’s a family issue.” Contraceptives: Under the new health-care bill, insurance providers will be required to provide contraceptive coverage to all who are insured. “…this is not just a—a health issue; it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.”

Women in the workplace: If women are going to be in the workplace, employers need to be more flexible, such as with schedules, to allow for family obligations. Food Stamps: “…when the president took office, 32 million people [were] on food stamps; 47 million [are] on food stamps today. Economic growth this year [is] slower than last year, and last year [is] slower than the year before. Going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are struggling today.”

The country needs to enforce current laws and make sure guns are being kept out of the hands of criminals. Will consider reintroducing an assault weapons ban to curb violent massacres such as Aurora. Looks to a comprehensive strategy that would reduce irresponsible gun owners and develop proactive approaches in communities to deter violent attacks.

Not in favor of any new legislation, including gun or model limitation of any sort. Believes America’s greatest failure with gun violence is due to the “Operation Fast and Furious” weapons dissemination plan. [A “gunwalking” sting conducted by the ATF between 2006 and 2011 to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico by selling guns legally to middlemen in order to track down cartel leaders.]

Syria: The U.S. and its allies must exert pressure on China and Russia to come to a compromise to effect a resolution. Iran: Has not set a “red line,” but the U.S. cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region. Afghanistan: Maintains commitment to reducing numbers and bringing troops home. Military Spending: The U.S. must reduce as America has a higher military budget than the next 10 countries combined. This can be used to rebuild America.


Syria: Refuses all U.S. military intervention within the country. China: “…companies have shut down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their currency. It holds down the prices of their goods. It means our goods aren’t as competitive and we lose jobs. That’s got to end.” Israel: There is a red line when it comes to Israel’s security in the Middle East. Iran: The route to blocking a nuclear Iran is through diplomatic isolation to avoid military action. Afghanistan: Agreed with Obama that U.S. forces must withdraw from the country in 2014, and maintains that all handover plans are progressing appropriately. Military Spending: Would focus on increasing the size and capabilities of the U.S. Navy, and would not reduce the military budget.

Check back November 3rd for our state-by-state analysis of the election platforms.


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