Osburn: Where the GOP candidates standWritten by Ben Osburn | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost a month into the 2012 presidential primary race, the Republican field has been narrowed to four candidates. For nearly six months, each candidate has been involved in countless debates, television ads and campaign rallies. Through the entire campaign muddle, it can be difficult to understand where each candidate stands on the most salient issues of this year’s election.
According to CNN exit polls from the early primary contests, the economy is the most important issue this year. High unemployment rates, calls to reform the tax code and a looming federal deficit in the trillions are all issues that have been discussed in the economic debate.
Republican leaders have been adamant about cutting taxes for businesses to help the economy. President Obama and other Democratic colleagues have backed government-subsidized projects, like investments in alternative energy and national infrastructure, as a means of providing jobs. Each GOP candidate has taken a distinct stance on how to fix the economy.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s economic plan revolves around cutting taxes and eliminating many government regulations to allow businesses to burgeon. Gingrich would eliminate both the capital gains and estate taxes. He also would make the Bush tax cuts permanent and lower the corporate tax rate. A centerpiece of his plan would be to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and replace it with the proposed “Environmental Solutions Agency,” which would cooperate with businesses to create environmental regulations while considering the cost to businesses. Gingrich has also advocated the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act and would like to strengthen the U.S. dollar by curbing inflation.
Mitt Romney frequently touts his experience in the private sector to gain credibility on the economy. He was once CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and co-founded Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm. Romney has been a large supporter of the “cut, cap and balance” plan to curb the federal deficit. The plan was introduced by the House last year, and involves cutting money for discretionary and mandatory spending programs, while putting a cap on them. It also calls for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Romney would also increase free trade, particularly with countries in the Pacific Rim. He would cut the corporate tax as well.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum has placed a heavy emphasis on revamping America’s manufacturing sector. As president, Santorum would reduce the corporate tax rate to zero for manufacturers. He would also allow for 100 percent expensing of new business equipment for manufacturing companies. Santorum believes that tapping into domestic energy resources like natural gas with little government regulation will increase American production and lower energy costs overall. He, along with Gingrich and Romney, would approve the Keystone Pipeline if elected. Finally, Santorum would increase the Research and Development Tax Credit from 14 to 20 percent, to help spur economic growth.
On the economy, Congressman Ron Paul is the renegade. His economic stance has been largely defined by his views on the Federal Reserve. If elected, Paul would eliminate the Federal Reserve entirely, citing that it is unconstitutional. Paul has been one of the most audible opponents of raising the debt ceiling, voting twice against it. Referring to America’s shrinking dollar value, Paul is an advocate of returning to the gold standard.
Here is a list of how the candidates fall on two other frequently discussed issues. Readers can also go to each candidate’s website for a comprehensive list.
- Has said he will act with “clarity” toward nations and allies, so that the world will always know where America stands.
- Promised to seek a foreign policy that is congenial to open markets, representative governments and human rights.
- Believes it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon and views military involvement as an option to deal with it.
- Believes America is involved in a long war with radical Islam.
- Said he will compose a “grand strategy” for defeating radical Islam.
- Defines the purpose of American foreign policy as being to ensure its survival and to protect nations that share its values.
- Against an expansionist approach to foreign policy.
- A critic of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
- Seeks to cut all foreign aid.
- Favors interventionalist approach.
- Believes Iran is a threat to Israel.
- Believes in expanding humanitarian aid to Africa.
- Has promised to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
- Seeks to eliminate health insurance discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions.
- Proposes capping noneconomic damages in medial malpractice litigation.
- Proposes repealing the PPACA.
- Wants to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines.
- As president, would increase access to health savings accounts (HSA).
- Favors allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines.
- Wants to repeal the PPACA.
- Also seeks to increase HSA access.
- Wants to turn Medicaid into a block grant program.
- Is an advocate of medical liability reform.
- Believes in providing tax credits to those who buy health insurance individually.
Columnist Ben Osburn is a graduate student in political science at the University of Toledo. Email him at email@example.com.