Here They Stand
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       Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press offers a quick look at some major issues to be discussed in the November election process, and comparing the stances the two major candidates will probably take during their campaigns will reveal some basic political differences in President Obama's and Mitt Romney's solutions to these problems. Although their views are not always 180 degrees apart, they do show some vastly different attitudes on how much they think the government should be involved in our everyday lives, and also in their personal values and goals.  For example, on the national debt, trillion-dollar deficits are in their fourth year and federal spending makes up 23% of domestic products.  Obama's term of office is marked by high rates of unemployment and a deep recession, some say caused by the prior Bush administration. Obama wants to raise taxes on capital gains and to set a minimum 30% tax on those earning $1,000,000 or more and initiated a $800 billion stimulus plan that cut unemployment slightly. Romney opposed the bailouts of GM and Chrysler and wants a 20% cap on federal spending, a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, lower taxes, and less government regulation.

      President Obama supports abortion rights, free contraceptives for women,  has switched positions on same-sex marriages and civil unions, now supporting them if states decide on the issue, and opposes a constitutional amendment barring them. Romney opposes abortion rights, previously supporting them, and allows for states to determine these rights. He also favors a governmental ban on marriages by same-sex partners.

      Obama has not overhauled the immigration system as his campaign pledge promised, but has deported almost 400,000 illegal immigrants. Romney favors a border fence and opposes education benefits to illegals and is against offering legal status to illegals attending college. He favors an immigration-status system for employers when hiring illegals, and an enforcement policy if businesses hire those immigrants not covered.

      President Obama has not addressed a plan to solve Social Security's financial problems. He proposes cutting down on benefits. Romney wants to raise the age required to qualify for Social Security benefits for future retirees, while maintaining the current benefit program for those 55 and older.

      Obama introduced a national government backed health-care plan that would require almost everyone to carry medical insurance, would expand Medicaid, and ban companies from denying coverage to individuals if they have pre-existing health conditions. Romney wants to repeal the health care law, while replacing it with  guarantees that workers employed for certain periods of time be protected against losing their coverage if they get sick or change jobs.

     President Obama banned harsh interrogation methods for suspected terrorists, and promised to close Guantanamo Bay prison but has not done so. Romney believes terrorist suspects should have no constitutional rights, and approves of waterboarding techniques that some in Congress object to.

     Obama ended the war in Iraq, which he opposed, and after first increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan, plans to have all of the U.S. troops withdrawn  by 2014. He plans to reduce the number of worldwide U.S. Army and Marine Corps forces in order to cut military spending. Romney believes this is not the time to hurry out of Afghanistan, and favors increasing the number of American troops and warships to ensure our military capacity abroad, adding $100 billion to the budget.

     Watching and listening to candidates for office jockeying for voter approval is nothing new on the political front during election years. We all know that their promises and leanings during campaigns are not always fulfilled, some never. But the panels and interviews and debates covered by the media are a never ending source of entertainment to many, and much of the rhetoric is taken with tongue-in-cheek. This is the American way, a right we enjoy, a system few other countries can claim. So we will listen and watch closely, accepting and rejecting platforms and policies, and in the end we will have participated in one of the great tools of democracy: the right to choose those we want to represent us in the decisions our government makes. Let's enjoy it while we can.