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In speeches, Obama and Romney set up contrasts

By Henry C. Jackson

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 7 2012 2:20 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks with the news media after making a stop at the "New Hampshire Veterans and Military Families for Mitt" event, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Concord, N.H.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on this much: The 2012 election is filled with political differences and voters will face a stark choice in policies.

On issues ranging from the role of government in American society to foreign policy, the Democratic and Republican candidates for president offered vastly different visions for the country in their acceptance speeches. Each set up sharp contrasts with his opponent, setting the terms of debate for the fall.

Where Obama and Romney stand — as drawn from their convention speeches.

JOBS

Obama: Called for setting goals for manufacturing and energy that would create jobs, but offered few new or specific policies prescriptions. Said U.S. policies should reward companies that open new plants and train new workers. Emphasized that tax cuts for wealthy Americans would not create jobs, saying the country had tried that and it didn't work. Cited investment in renewable energy and said it has created thousands of jobs in America and will continue to create more jobs. Said cutting oil imports and supporting natural gas would deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs. Said he wanted to focus on producing better products and improving exports, which would spur job growth. Said his administration's policies had already created hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing and would continue to do so if those policies were followed.

Romney: Offered a five-point plan that he said would create 12 million jobs during his first term in office. The plan involves making the U.S. energy independent by 2020, increasing job training for citizens, forging new trade agreements with foreign countries, cutting the deficit and reducing taxes on businesses. Also said he would reduce some burdensome regulations and repeal Obama's health care plan, thus helping business. Lambasted Obama's record on job creation, saying the president's policies have slowed job growth, are overly reliant on government spending and have been particularly harmful to small businesses.

TAXES

Obama: Said he had cut taxes "for those who need it," middle-class families and small businesses. But he said he didn't believe another round of tax cuts for millionaires would create jobs or bring down the deficit. Said he wants to reform the tax code to make it simpler and fairer while asking wealthy households to pay higher taxes on incomes above $250,000, the same rate as when Bill Clinton was president. Referring to efforts to come up with a deficit reduction plan, he said he was open to compromise with Republicans but would refuse to go along with the idea, promoted by Romney and his allies in Congress, that the deficit could be lowered by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy. He said he would refuse to ask middle-class families to give up deductions for owning a home or raising children, or ask students to pay more for college, or reduce health care benefits, to pay for another tax cut for millionaires.

Romney: Criticized Obama for his plan to raise taxes on small businesses. Said efforts to scale back the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy would result in small businesses being forced to turn over more of their income to the government. He said taxes that small businesses pay should be reduced rather than raised. He also pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class. Said the Obama administration refuses to agree to an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.

DEBT

Obama: Said he would use a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on those making more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit. Said his plan would cut future deficits by $4 trillion. He said he is eager to reach a deficit-cutting agreement based on principles of a bipartisan commission, known as Simpson-Bowles.

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