Where do the presidential candidates stand?

With the high intensity of political debates and campaign ads, it can be hard to weed through just who stands for what—so we did it for you. Educate yourself with this list of the candidates’ views on popular issues and become an informed voter.


Providing Tax Breaks to Stimulate Job Growth

Obama/Biden, Democratic: AGAINST – The President wants to change offshore tax rules to bring back outsourced jobs and end tax laws that encourage outsourcing. He also supports creating new jobs in the fields of natural gas and wind energy, claiming they have the potential to open up 600,000 new positions.

Romney/Ryan, Republican: FOR – Gov. Romney has criticized President Obama for not coming through on promises to significantly lower the unemployment rate. He says his 5-point plan will create 12 million new jobs. His plan is to encourage growth for small businesses by offering tax breaks to the “job creators.”

Johnson/Gray, Libertarian: AGAINST – Gov. Johnson’s libertarian viewpoints come through in his approach to job stimulation. He supports limited to no government involvement when creating jobs, and said he prefers to let businesses create jobs.

New Taxes

Obama: FOR – Obama opposes so called “across-the-board tax cuts for the wealthy.” He supports bringing back the Clinton tax rate (39 percent) for persons earning more than $250,000. He’s argued against the theory behind “trickle-down economics,” stating the practice has failed, and led to the financial crisis of the last decade.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney believes in cutting taxes and reducing regulations imposed on businesses in an effort to stimulate economic growth. He’s also frequently stated his intention to close tax loopholes, but has been criticized for being vague on how he would execute that strategy. He said he refuses to raise taxes during a recession and would instead focus on cutting spending.

Johnson: UNCLEAR – Johnson’s approach is a bit more extreme. He favors getting rid of the capital-gains tax, and believes replacing the country’s current tax system with a “FairTax” would reboot the economy.

Altering Social Security

Obama: FOR – President Obama admits the he and Gov. Romney share a similar position when it comes to social security. He said he wants to “tweak” the program to strengthen it in the long term.

Romney: FOR – Gov. Romney has said he is open to raising the age for benefits for future retirees above age 65. He says the system is a federal responsibility and that Congress’ use of the system as a trust fund is criminal.

Johnson: FOR – Gov. Johnson said the best way to handle the social security dilemma is by raising the retirement age to 70 or 72, reforming some of the entitlements and privatizing a portion of the program.

Raising Taxes to Reduce the National Debt

Obama: FOR – The President’s plan for lowering the national debt relies heavily on his tax policies. He suggests higher taxes for the wealthiest one percent but has been hesitant to enact freezes on government spending.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney supports a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. His 5-point plan depends heavily on spending cuts. This includes cutting 10 percent from the federal workforce, with a $1.6 billion cut from Amtrak subsidies and $600 million from support to the public arts and broadcasting (notably PBS).

Johnson: AGAINST – Johnson has referred to the national debt as the “greatest threat to our national security.” He said he would not have provided a bank bailout, stimulus money or farm subsidies. He also said the deficit can, and should, be cut without raising taxes.


Providing More Funding for Higher Education

Obama: FOR – The President has been vocal about his support of government spending to encourage collegiate enrollment. He increased spending by $20 billion to expand Pell grant availability and wants students to be able to “cap” their loan repayments at 10 percent of their income. He also supports community colleges serving a greater role as vocational career centers.

Romney: AGAINST – Gov. Romney would like to see less government involvement when it comes to higher education. He wants to restrict the use of Pell grants to low-income families and return the role of student lending from the federal government to private banks. He also supports giving full scholarships to students who place in the top quarter of high school graduates.

Johnson: AGAINST – Johnson’s plan calls for the elimination of student loans. He claims student loans cause tuition to rise drastically. Instead, he wants to eliminate the Department of Education and instill a voucher system for students.



Obama: FOR – Considered by many to be President Obama’s linchpin issue, Obamacare was his attempt to streamline the healthcare system and make it available to everyone. The plan forbids insurance companies from excluding potential recipients based on pre-existing conditions and allows students to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. However, the plan has been criticized for socializing healthcare and driving up costs for small businesses.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney has made it very clear that if elected, one of his first goals will be to repeal Obamacare. He said the system kills jobs and allows an unelected board to make health decisions for patients. Romney has suggested his own healthcare plan, known as Romneycare, as a replacement for his opponent’s system.

Johnson: AGAINST – Johnson has openly called Obamacare and government-managed healthcare “insanity.” He said Obamacare is unconstitutional and would repeal it immediately.

Social Issues

Abortion Rights:

Obama: FOR – President Obama supports Roe v. Wade and pro-choice initiatives. He repealed a Bush prohibition on international funding to groups that supported abortions and opposed a Supreme Court ruling that supported a partial birth abortion ban.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney is pro-life and supports an overturn of Roe v. Wade. He believes that abortion should be decided at the state level while the nation remains divided on the issue. Romney supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans the federal government from providing funding for all abortion through health care services like Medicaid.

Johnson: FOR? – Johnson believes that the government should not be involved in citizens’ personal decisions. He says women should have the right to choose “until the point of viability of a fetus.”

Providing birth control:

Obama: FOR – Through the President’s Affordable Care Act, birth control is fully covered by most health care plans as part of women’s preventative care. He opposed attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of health services—like birth control—for women.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney criticized the President’s health care plan for requiring religious employers to provide contraception as part of their employees’ health insurance. He believes this is an attack on religious freedom.

Same-sex marriage:

Obama: FOR – Obama was the first sitting president to publicly announce his support for same-sex marriage. He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing homosexual service members to be open about their sexual orientation.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. If elected, he plans to advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He also plans to appoint an Attorney General who will support the Defense of Marriage Act.

Johnson: FOR – Johnson believes the government should not be involved in controlling the values of citizens. He believes in marriage equality for all and also in the right for religious organizations to practice their beliefs.

Foreign Policy

Military force in Iran if nuclear program is not dismantled:

Obama: FOR – In 2010, Obama announced an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials in four years. He believes in using political, diplomatic and economic efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Military force should be used if these other efforts fail to uphold the United State’s interests.

Romney: FOR – Romney believes we need to take a tougher stance in Iran. He would restore the regular presence of United States aircraft carrier task forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf regions. His plan for Iran would also include increasing sanctions pressure, supporting the Iranian opposition and building up a missile defense system in Easter Europe.


The DREAM Act:

Obama: FOR – Obama supports the DREAM Act because he believes that young people brought to the United States illegally through no doing of their own should be able to earn citizenship through military service or higher education. Obama ordered a two-year suspension of the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and have no criminal record.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act as part of his efforts to discourage illegal immigration into the United States. He does, however, support the part of the act that would allow those young illegal immigrants to have the opportunity to serve in the United States military as a means to eventually become American citizens.

Deportation of all illegal immigrants

Obama: AGAINST – Obama believes that we need an immigration reform, but is focused on deporting illegal immigrants with a criminal record. He supports creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are law-abiding.

Romney: FOR – Romney believes in “self-deportation” and stronger efforts to enforce immigration laws. He is against an amnesty plan and says illegal immigrants who apply to become citizens should not be given any advantage over those waiting to enter the United States.


Clean coal regulations:

Obama: FOR – Obama plans to invest in “clean coal” technology with the goal of developing and deploying cost-effective solutions in the next 10 years. He used executive authority to create Environmental Protection Agency rules that reduce emissions of mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney says carbon emissions should not be regulated under the Clean Air Act and he would decrease the Environmental Protection Agency regulation of coal-fired power plants.

Renewable energy investments:

Obama: FOR – Obama invested in renewable energy projects that have increased the use of wind and solar resources to generate electricity. The 2009 stimulus bill provided $40 billion in investments for clean energy.

Romney: AGAINST – Romney believes the federal government should not spend money on renewable energy. He would instead give the states control of energy development.

Johnson: AGAINST – Johnson believes the government should not be involved in the development of new energy sources. He says allowing the market to solve the energy problems will lead to the most efficient solution.

Contact John Milligan at [email protected].

Contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].