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Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney: Where they stand on the issues

By Calvin Woodward

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Sept. 10 2012 1:31 p.m. MDT

Romney: Opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage and says it should be banned with a constitutional amendment, not left to states. "Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state." Also opposes civil unions "if they are identical to marriage other than by name," but says states should be left to decide what rights and benefits should be allowed under those unions. Says certain domestic partnership benefits — largely unspecified — as well as hospital visitation rights are appropriate but "others are not." Says he would not seek to restore the ban on openly gay military members. Asserted in 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor that "all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of sexual preference," in tune with statements years earlier as a Senate candidate that equality for gays and lesbians should be a "mainstream concern." But did not explicitly support marriage recognition and, as governor, opposed same-sex marriage when courts legalized it in Massachusetts. "My view is that marriage itself is between a man and a woman."

GUNS:

Obama: Has not pushed for gun control measures as president. Signed laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. Favors "robust steps, within existing law" to address gun issues, White House says. Voices support for renewed ban on assault-type weapons but has not tried to get that done. Has not swung behind longshot Democratic bill, introduced after the Colorado movie theater shooting in July, to let only licensed dealers sell ammunition, require police to be notified after any sale of more than 1,000 rounds to an unlicensed person, and require buyers who aren't licensed dealers to show a photo ID. Backed tougher gun control as Illinois and U.S. senator, including proposals to renew the assault-weapons ban and require background checks for buyers at gun shows.

Romney: Opposes stricter gun control laws. Suggested after the Colorado shooting that he favors tougher enforcement of existing gun laws, although the theater attack was carried out with legally obtained weapons. As Massachusetts governor, vowed in 2002 to protect the state's "tough gun laws," and in 2004 signed a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. Quadrupled state's gun-licensing fee but loosened rules on the licenses and extended their duration. In 2008 primary campaign, said he would have signed the federal assault weapons ban if it had come to him as president, but he opposed any new gun legislation.

HEALTH CARE:

Obama: Achieved landmark overhaul putting U.S. on path to universal coverage now that Supreme Court has upheld the law's mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance. Under the law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits for middle-income people will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets and small business gets help for offering insurance. Millions of low-income uninsured are to be reached through expansion of Medicaid with hefty subsidies to states, but Supreme Court limited federal power to penalize states that want to opt out of the expansion. Law's biggest changes start in 2014. "Nobody is going to go broke just because they get sick. And Americans will no longer be denied or dropped by their insurance companies just when they need care the most. That's what change is."

Health care law improves Medicare benefits, adding better coverage for seniors with high prescription costs as well as removing co-pays for a set of preventive benefits. It also cuts Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers by more than $700 billion over a decade. Those cuts are being used to provide health insurance to more working-age Americans, and the government also counts them as extending the life of the Medicare trust fund. Any future deficit-reduction deal, though, is likely to increase costs for middle-class and upper-income Medicare recipients, and Obama has indicated a willingness to consider raising the eligibility age to 67 from 65.

Romney: Promises to repeal Obama's health care law modeled largely after his universal health care achievement in Massachusetts because he says states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured. Would expand individual tax-advantaged medical savings accounts and let the savings be used for insurance premiums as well as personal medical costs. Would let insurance be sold across state lines to expand options, and restrict malpractice awards to restrain health care costs. Says he would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

On Medicare, introduce "generous" but undetermined subsidies to help future retirees buy private insurance or join a government plan modeled on traditional Medicare. Gradually increase the eligibility age to 67. Repealing Obama's health care law would roll back improved benefits for seniors unless Congress acts to protect them. It also would reverse Obama's Medicare cuts to hospitals and other providers. This would have the unintended consequence of hastening the insolvency Medicare's trust fund. Would turn Medicaid program over to the states as a block grant.

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