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Comparing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Barack Obama

Democrat, Age: 51

44th president of the United States, former U.S. senator from Illinois. Also served as a state senator.

Graduated from Columbia University; Law degree from Harvard.

Married to Michelle and has two children.

Vice-presidential running mate is Joe Biden, a former senator from Delaware.


Willard Mitt Romney

Republican, Age: 65

Former governor of Massachusetts, cofounder and former chief executive officer of Bain Capital.

Graduated from Brigham Young University; Law and business degrees from Harvard.

Married to Ann and has five grown children. 

Vice-presidential running mate is U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. 


Research by Araceli Gutierrez, 17, Cleveland HS and Renzo San Juan, 15, Belmont HS


Fact: The unemployment rate is at 7.8 percent and the budget deficit was $1.1 trillion during the last budget year.

• Wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year and eliminate the cuts for people earning more.
• Would cut taxes on businesses from 35 to 28 percent and make up the difference by getting rid of tax breaks.
• Created initiative that aims to create jobs by doubling exports by the end of 2014.
• Supported an act that would have offered a 20 percent tax break to businesses to move jobs back to the United States and eliminate tax deductions for companies that outsource jobs. The act didn’t pass Congress.

• Wants to keep Bush tax cuts for everyone, including people making more than $250,000 a year.
• Wants to cut taxes by 20 percent and make up the difference by getting rid of deductions, but hasn’t said which ones.
• Would cut taxes on businesses from 35 to 25 percent.
• Has said he supports the “cut, cap and balance” approach to curbing deficit spending (when the federal government spends more than it has). The approach would cut federal spending and pass a Constitutional amendment that the federal government has to have a balanced budget every year.


Fact: There are roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. 

• Pushed for passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, attended college or went into the military.
• Issued an executive order that deferred deportation of young undocumented immigrants (“dreamers”) and allows them to get a work permit. The two-year temporary visas can be renewed.
• Supports increased penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
• Has deported almost 400,000 immigrants a year, which is more than George W. Bush.

• Allow more highly educated workers to come to the United States on visas.
• Opposes in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
• Says he will complete a high-tech fence to enhance border security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
• Will develop a mandatory system that would enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. Employers who hire undocumented workers will be penalized.
• Does not support Obama’s executive order that defers deportation of young undocumented immigrants, but said he would not revoke their temporary visas. 


• Set higher fuel economy standards that require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy on new cars and trucks by 2025.
• Favors an “across the board” energy strategy that includes investments in alternative energy and increased domestic oil and natural gas production.
• He supports cap and trade, an approach to control pollution with economic incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Energy plan includes more drilling for oil in limited areas such as the Arctic to relieve rising oil costs.
• Proposed a comprehensive survey of America’s energy reserves and opening them for development.
• Plans to approve the Keystone Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.


Fact: The cost of attending college has increased at twice the rate of inflation.

• Signed a law that says college graduates can pay no more than 10 percent of their income toward their student loan, which tries to make student loans more affordable.
• Doubled funding for Pell Grants and increased the number of recipients from 6 million to 9.7 million since 2008.
• Replaced No Child Left Behind with Race to the Top, which has rewarded states more than $4.35 billion for reforms to raise standards, help teachers improve and turn around struggling schools. The reforms he’s pushing include using standardized test results to evaluate teachers, which has been opposed by teachers unions.
• Awarded $1 billion in competitive grants to reform community colleges.

• His plan, A Chance for Every Child, emphasizes school choice, accountability and ensuring that qualified teachers are in every class.
• In favor of school vouchers, which would pay for tuition at private schools for low-income and disabled students.
• Supports the effort to extend the low interest rates on student loans.
• Would let the Pell Grant program modestly increase with inflation and promises to “refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most.” 

Women’s rights

• His Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer contraception free of charge.

• Supports decreasing barriers to entry into the workforce for women.
• Said he would abolish the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide contraception free of charge for those employers that have a moral or religious objection.
• Says he would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.


• Supports Roe v. Wade, the decision that made abortion legal.

• Wants to overturn Roe v. Wade

Marriage for same-sex couples

• He had opposed same-sex marriage but earlier this year he said he personally supports it. However, he believes this is an issue that individual states should decide.
• His administration will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents legally married gay couples from getting the same federal benefits that straight married people usually get.
• Ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a policy against gays serving openly in the military.

• Opposes same-sex marriage but supports domestic partnership benefits like hospital visitation rights.
• Would support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Foreign policy

• Ended the war in Iraq by withdrawing the remaining combat troops.
• He said that he wants to withdraw the remaining troops in Afghanistan by 2014.
• Part of a coalition using sanctions by Congress, the UN Security Council and others to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. 

• Criticized Obama for failure to lead on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
• Has called Iran’s nuclear development “the greatest national security threat that we face.” He supports sanctions but also says military action must be an option to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. 

Health care

Fact: 44 million Americans don’t have health insurance, and 38 million have healthcare plans that don’t pay for all their medical expenses.

• His Affordable Care Act requires Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty by 2014. Provisions include allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan up to age 26. And health insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of an illness. 

• Plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act but has not offered an alternative.

For more of L.A. Youth’s 2012 Presidential Election coverage

Why the election matters to me. Even though she can’t vote, 17-year-old Avika cares about issues like jobs and college costs.

What do they stand for? Melissa wasn’t sure if she was a Republican or Democrat.