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Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues

Friday - 11/2/2012, 12:00pm  ET

By CALVIN WOODWARD
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - A look at where Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney stand on a selection of issues:

OBAMA:

Abortion and birth control: Supports access to abortion. Health care law requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans, including access to morning-after pill, which does not terminate a pregnancy but which some religious conservatives consider tantamount to an abortion pill. Supported requiring girls 16 and under to get a prescription for the morning-after pill, available without a prescription for older women.

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Debt: Failed in pledge to cut the deficit "we inherited" by half by end of first term will be missed by a wide margin. The deficit when he took office was $1.2 trillion, and the $800 billion stimulus bill Obama signed soon afterward increased the shortfall to more than $1.4 trillion. The deficit for the recently completed 2012 budget year registered at $1.2 trillion, marking the fourth consecutive year of trillion-dollar-plus red ink. Now promises to cut projected deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years, a goal that will require Congress to raise the capital gains tax, boost taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year and impose a minimum 30 percent tax on incomes above $1 million. The target also assumes a reduction in the amount of interest the government must pay on its debt and incorporates cuts already signed into law. Nation's debt surpassed $16 trillion this year. Federal spending is estimated at 23.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, up from about 20 percent in the previous administration, and is forecast to decline to 21.8 percent by 2016. Reached agreement with congressional Republicans for military spending cuts.

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Economy: Term marked by a deep recession that began in previous administration and officially ended within six months, and gradual recovery with persistently high jobless rates of above 8 percent until the last two months of the campaign. Mixed jobs report for October showed unemployment rising to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, but strong hiring as more people started looking for work. Obama responded to the recession with a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan that nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated cut the unemployment rate by up to 1.8 percentage points. Continued implementation of Wall Street and auto industry bailouts begun under George W. Bush. Proposes tax breaks for U.S. manufacturers producing domestically or repatriating jobs from abroad and tax penalties for U.S. companies outsourcing jobs. Won approval of South Korea, Panama and Colombia free-trade pacts begun under previous administration, completing the biggest round of trade liberalization since the North American Free Trade Agreement and other pacts went into effect in the 1990s.

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Education: Has approved waivers freeing states from the most onerous requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law with their agreement to improve how they prepare and evaluate students. "Race to the Top" grant competition has rewarded winning states with billions of dollars for pursuing education policies Obama supports. Won approval for a college tuition tax credit worth up to $10,000 over four years and more money for Pell Grants for low-income college students. Wants Congress to agree to reduce federal aid to colleges that go too far in raising tuition. Average tuition at four-year public colleges surged 26 percent in his term, by $1,800 to $8,655, as states cut aid, but federal grants and tax credits sheltered students from most of the increase, leaving them paying only $570 more.

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Energy and environment: Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but U.S. produced more oil in 2010 than it has since 2003 and all forms of energy production have increased under Obama. Approved drilling plan in Arctic Ocean opposed by environmentalists. Proposes Congress give oil market regulators more power to control price manipulation by speculators and stiffer fines for doing so. Sets goal of cutting oil imports in half by 2020.

Achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards for automobiles that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles. Achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. The rules on mercury could force dozens of older coal-fired plants to shut or spend billions to upgrade. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source.

Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions. Shelved plan to toughen health standards on lung-damaging smog. Rejected Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada but supports fast-track approval of a segment of it. Proposes ending subsidies to oil industry but has failed to persuade Congress to do so.

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