Obama vs Romney on the Economy

Obama vs Romney
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after the debate at the Lynn University on October 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Here's a side-by-side comparison of President Barack Obama's plans for the economy vs. Governor Mitt Romney's proposals. That makes it easy to compare the two radically different strategies to restore the economy to robust health. They are divided into four categories: Government Spending, Taxes, Monetary Policy and Regulations/Trade/Other.

Government Spending

At different points throughout the campaign, President Barack Obama has said he would:

Governor Mitt Romney was more focused on cutting spending, using the following measures:

  • Cap Federal spending at 20% of GDP. Introduce a Constitutional Amendment requiring a balanced budget.
  • Freeze Federal hiring until employment is down 10%. Lower wages and benefits for government workers, saving $47 billion.
  • Cut non-security discretionary spending by 5% to balance the budget. Keep defense spending as is, but increase efficiencies to add 100,000 soldiers.
  • Tie unemployment benefits to worker retraining. Improve job training by transferring Federal programs to the states. Require states to solve unfunded pension obligations.
  • End Obamacare. Return authority to states. Vouchers for Medicare for those turning 65 in 2023 or later.
  • Shift Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps to states. Will save $100 billion.
  • Cut funding to Amtrak, PBS, National Endowment for Arts & National Endowment for Humanities. (Sources: Mitt Romney.com, "Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan to Restore Jobs", Romney's Five Point Plan, Speech in Las Vegas, CNBC, 8/3/12; CNN Money, "Romney's 5-Point Plan," 8/12/12; "Rich Taxpayers Will Pay Their Share, 8/15/12)


Obama uses tax cuts to focus on creating jobs at home, although his promotion of a tax "increase" on higher income families could hurt small businesses.

  • Extend Bush tax cuts only for families making less than $250,000 a year.
  • Extend payroll tax cut, costing $175 billion but creating 2.3 million jobs.
  • Eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. Give 20% tax credit for expenses related to moving jobs back to U.S. Give 100% tax credit for investment in U.S. plant and equipment. Double tax deduction for advanced manufacturing technologies in U.S.
  • Tax cut for businesses that hire long-term unemployed, veterans or students. Costs $65 billion to create 845,000 jobs.
  • Give tax breaks to companies that build in distressed areas and train workers.
  • Reduce tax credits for oil exploration. Give tax credits for alternative energy development.
  • Extend the tuition tax credit.(Sources: Obama's 2102 State of the Union Address, American Jobs Act)

Romney focused on across-the-board tax cuts.

  • Make Bush tax cuts permanent for all, reducing income by $320 billion in 2015.
  • Lower corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. Permit businesses to write off 2010 and 2011 capital investments.
  • Eliminate dividend and capital gains taxes for those earning less than $250,000 a year.
  • End estate tax.
  • End the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Lower all income tax rates by 20% by cutting deductions except for mortgage interest, charitable donations, and health care expenses for the middle class. (Sources: (Source: CNN Money," Romney's Other Tax Secret," 7/23/12; CNN Money," Romney's 5-Point Plan," 8/12/12; "Rich Taxpayers Will Pay Their Share; 8/15/12; Mitt Romney.com, "My Plan to Turn Around the Economy")

    Monetary Policy

    President Obama hasn't said whether or not he will reappoint Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires in January 2014. However, most analysts agree he probably will. That means continued low interest rates until job creation improves. He doesn't believe expanded monetary policy will create inflation. (Source: Bloomberg, Bernanke Influence Seen Outlasting His Term, 9/13/12)

    Romney said he will replace Bernanke in January 2014 with someone who shares his economic views, possibly Glenn Hubbard or Greg Mankiw. He advocates contractionary monetary policy to support the value of the dollar and reduce the threat of inflation. He doesn't believe low interest rates stimulate the economy. He therefore opposes Quantitative Easing. (Source: LA Times, "Romney Reaffirms He Wouldn't Reappoint Bernanke," 8/24/12)

    Regulations, Trade, Other

    Obama signed free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama. Double exports by 2015, supporting 70,000 U.S. jobs. Set up Trade Investigation Unit to enforce trade agreements. He would also:

    • Set up a program to help mortgage-holders refinance by giving them a $3,000 a year credit, funded by a fee on big banks.
    • Ban insider trading among Congressmen. (Source: Obama's 2102 State of the Union Address)

    Romney would repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Only allow new regulations if enforcement costs are offset by eliminating old regulations. Eliminate regulations that suppress small business growth. Streamline regulations that inhibit nuclear power, coal, oil and gas production. He would also:

    • Initiate all approved natural gas and oil leases. By the end of his second term, the United States would not import from the Middle East or Venezuela.
    • "Reagan Economic Zone" to partner with countries committed to free trade. Prosecute trade infringements with China. More trade agreements with Latin America.
    • Reverse Executive Order encouraging government contracts use labor unions. Improve schools by going after teachers' unions. (Source: CNN Money," Romney's 5-Point Plan," 8/12/12)

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