Obama v Romney: On the key issues, where do they stand?

As the US Presidential election nears the end, Shamik Das looks at where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stand on the key issues.


In a few hours, voters in the States will awaken to the final, frenetic, few hours of campaigning in the most expensive, and one of the most important Presidential elections ever.

National polls show the candidates as close as ever in terms of the popular vote, with President Obama slightly ahead – which, state by state translated into the electoral college, gives the Democrat a 307.2-230.8 lead, (up 10.6 in a week), with an 86.3% chance of winning (+11.7 since October 28), according to leading US pollster Nate Silver:

Top UK pollster Peter Kellner, meanwhile, also calls it for the President, with YouGov’s analysis giving him a 2% lead, showing him “ahead in enough states to secure a second term as President, but by a narrower margin than in his first victory four years ago”.

That’s the latest polls taken care of, but what of the key issues? On everything from the economy, to energy, to healthcare, to foreign policy, the policies espoused by Romney, if ever they came to fruition, is a frightening prospect that should chill not just Americans but the world.

In brief, then, here’s where the rival candidates stand on the major issues:


Obama: Signed $768bn stimulus package of tax cuts and investment in education, infrastructure, energy research, health, and other programmes; backed bailout of US auto industry; signed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

Romney: Will repeal healthcare reform and Wall Street and banking regulation acts; opposed auto industry bailout; will ‘significantly’ reduce federal spending (areas unspecified) and implement tax cuts


Obama: Would repeal Bush-era tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year; proposes “Buffet rule” which would increase effective tax rate paid by millionaires; in office, has cut effective taxes for most citizens.

Romney: Would make permanent all Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy; cut individual income tax rates further; eliminate taxes on investment income; repeal estate tax; reduce corporate income tax rate; taxpayers at the highest income levels will see the greatest benefit; would make up revenue by closing unspecified tax loopholes.


Obama: Opposes near-term military strike by US or Israel; emphasises need for diplomatic solution but warns “window is closing”, saying “all options are at the table”; signed new sanctions against Iran’s central bank, oil revenues and financial system.

Romney: Says military action “remains on the table” and analysts say he presents a clearer military threat to Iran; would send Navy ships to patrol Mediterranean and Gulf; calls for more sanctions.

National security and war:

Obama: Eliminated much of AQ’s leadership – including OBL; ended Iraq War; agreed $487m reduction in defence spending over 10 years.

Romney: Would spend heavily on military hardware and invest in missile defence – adding an estimated $100 billion to Pentagon’s budget.


Obama: After surge, has begun draw-down with combat mission to end by 2014.

Romney: “Goal” of “a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014” – but pledged to review withdrawal plans and base them “on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders”.


Obama: 2010 healthcare reform aims for universal health insurance coverage by requiring individuals who are not otherwise covered to purchase insurance, while restricting insurers’ ability to deny coverage based on pre-existing ailments; law offers states grants to increase enrolment of poor people in the Medicaid public insurance programme.

Romney: Will repeal ‘Obamacare’ – another dangerous flip-flop given the law is based on his Massachusetts ‘Romneycare’ reforms; will return health policy to ‘states law’.

Illegal immigration:

Obama: Used exec power to grant legal status to certain young illegal immigrants, bypassing Congress Republicans; dramatically increased deportations of illegal immigrants.

Romney: Criticises Obama’s “stopgap” measure on young illegal immigrants – but not said whether he would overturn it; says US should encourage migrants to “self-deport” by ‘making life hard for them’.


Obama: Supports abortion rights; appointed two Supreme Court justices who appear to favour abortion rights.

Romney: Says “my presidency will be a pro-life presidency” – yet another flip-flop, given he supported abortion rights when running for Mass Gov in 02. Supports overturning Roe v Wade; wants legality of abortion decided by ‘states law’; would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood women’s health clinics.


Obama: Supports investment in clean energy such as wind turbines and advanced car batteries; tightened car fuel efficiency and emissions standards; blocked development of Keystone oil pipeline to move oil sands crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, saying US had not had sufficient time to judge its environmental impact.

Romney: Would ease regulations hindering coal-burning power plants, oil exploration and nuclear power plant construction; would encourage drilling for oil in outer continental shelves of Atlantic and Pacific oceans; proposes to ease regulations; pledges to build Keystone pipeline.

On abortion, energy, healthcare, Iran, taxes… on everything, Romney’s anti-science, evidence-free ideology will stall the economy, make the poor poorer and the super-rich much, much richer, make the world a more dangerous place, damage the environment and attack women’s rights; truly a fundamentalist vision of Hell.

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