With the third presidential debate on tap for tonight, we wanted to help you sort out the truth from the hype. No value judgments, no punditry. Just the facts, laid out for you to make your own decisions.
That's the aim of our story today, where we tackle 19 financial and economic issues that affect your wallet, and where each presidential candidate has said he stands on them, in his own words. Each quote is also linked to the original source so you can see it in context.
Consider it your chance to get better acquainted with Barack and Mitt—and to go into tonight knowing as much as you can about the facts, especially once all the wonderful Tumblrs, tweets, Facebook posts and talking-head analysis start pouring in.
|Obama says ...||The Issue||Romney says ...|
|We’ve got to invest in education and training ... develop new sources of energy here in America ... change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments." -Oct. 3rd debate||Economic Stimulation||"My plan has five basic parts. One, get us ... North American energy independent ... Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America; crack down on China if and when they cheat. Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world ... Number four, get us to a balanced budget. Number five, champion small business. - Oct. 3rd debate|
|"I want to build manufacturing jobs ... I want to do that in industries ... all across the country and that means we change our tax code so we're giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here ... I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed." - Oct. 16th debate||Job Creation||"I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for small business, for big business ... On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers ... I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. I want to down the tax rates on small employers, big employers, so they want to be here." - Oct. 16th debate|
|"We've got to reduce our deficit, but we've got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts." - Oct. 16th debate||Government Debt||"Mitt’s goal will be to bring federal spending below 20% of GDP by the end of his first term ... by capping non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels.|
- Romney website
|"We've also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more ... for above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president." - Oct. 16th debate||Taxes||"I'm going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits ... The top 5% of taxpayers will continue to pay 60% of the income tax the nation collects ... There'll be no taxes for anybody making $200,000 per year and less, on your interest, dividends and capital gains." - Oct. 16th debate|
|"Let me tell you exactly what 'Obamacare' did. Number one, if you’ve got health insurance it doesn’t mean a government take over. You keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor. But it does say insurance companies can’t jerk you around. They can’t impose arbitrary lifetime limits. They have to let you keep your kid on your insurance plan till you’re 26 years old. And it also says that you’re going to have to get rebates if insurance companies are spending more on administrative costs and profits than they are on actual care. Number two, if you don’t have health insurance, we’re essentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18% lower than if you’re out there trying to get insurance on the individual market. - Oct. 3rd debate||Health Care||"When you look at 'Obamacare,' the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance ... So that’s one reason I don’t want it. It has killed jobs. And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state, craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state.- Oct. 3rd debate|
|"... the question is does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that’s not what I believe." -Oct. 16th debate||Bank Regulations||"Regulation is essential ... You couldn’t have people opening up banks in their garage and making loans ... At the same time, regulation can become excessive ... Dodd-Frank was passed, and it includes within it a number of provisions that I think have some unintended consequences that are harmful to the economy ... I would repeal it and replace it." - Oct. 3rd debate|
|Nothing stated during this election.||Housing||"Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." -Interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal|
|"And I want to continue those tax cuts ... for small business." - Oct. 16th debate||Small Business||"I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it." - Oct. 16th debate|
|"... we've worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future." - Oct. 16th debate||Student Loans||"I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We're also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school." - Oct. 16th debate|
|Said he supported raising minimum wage in 2008, no comment since then.||Minimum Wage||"Right now there's probably not a need to raise the minimum wage." - March interview with CNBC|
|"In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a health issue, it's an economic issue for women ... This is money out of that family's pocket." - Oct. 16th debate||Contraception||"I don't believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives." - Oct. 16th debate"The federal government should stop doing things the American people can’t afford, for instance: Title X Family Planning Funding." - Romney website|
|In 2008 to minority journalist convention, called for government to “craft” a policy “in such a way where some of our children who are advantaged aren't getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid who has struggled more.” No comment since then.||Affirmative Action||"I do not support quotas in hiring, government contracting, school admissions or the like. I believe our nation is at its best when people are evaluated as individuals. I encourage the disclosure of the numbers of women and minorities in top positions of companies and government--not to impose a quota, but to shine light on the situation." - official response to Washington Post questionnaire|
|"We don’t have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy ... We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment and, in fact, putting people back to work all across America." - January speech to the EPA||Environmental Regulation||"I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection in the long run." - Answer to ScienceDebate.org questionnaire|
|"You don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there for the future." - Oct. 3rd debate||Social Security||"The retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity ... benefits should continue to grow but the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes." - Romney website|
|"Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed." - Oct 3rd debate||Education||"The primary responsibility for education is of course at the state and local level. But the federal government also can play a very important role ... I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I ... I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice." - Oct. 3rd debate|
|"These are folks who’ve worked hard, like my grandmother. And there are millions of people out there who are counting on this." - Oct. 3rd debate||Welfare||"Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient. And it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life." - in 2010 book, "No Apology"|
|"... we've got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing, and we've also got to make sure that in every walk of life we do not tolerate discrimination.That's been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I'm going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years." - Oct. 16th debate||Gender Equality||"We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women." - Oct. 16th debate|
|"The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. We can't just produce traditional sources of energy. We've also got to look to the future ... yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas ... we've also got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency energy." - Oct. 16th debate||Energy||"I'll get America and North America energy independent. I'll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.We're going to bring that pipeline in from Canada." - Oct. 16th debate|
|"The way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower health care costs." - Oct. 3rd debate||Medicare||"I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, 'You’re going to get what you got last year plus inflation ... And then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best." ... What I’d do ... is to allow [individuals] either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan--their choice ... we have to have the benefits high for those that are low-income, but for higher-income people, we’re going to have to lower some of the benefits." - Oct 3rd debate|
Now that we've laid out Obama and Romney's positions in their own words, we're sure you have an opinion. Tell us what you think in the comments!
Cover Image Credit: Flickr.com/BarackObamadotcom