By CALVIN WOODWARD
WASHINGTON (AP) - A look at where Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney stand on a selection of issues:
ABORTION and BIRTH CONTROL:
Obama: 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 is considered tantamount to an abortion pill by some religious conservatives. Supported requiring girls 16 and under to get a prescription for the morning-after pill, available without a prescription for older women.
Romney: Opposes access to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the woman's life. Previously supported access. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court ruling. But says Roe v. Wade is law of the land until that happens and should not be challenged by federal legislation seeking to overturn abortion rights affirmed by that court decision. "So I would live within the law, within the Constitution as I understand it, without creating a constitutional crisis. But I do believe Roe v. Wade should be reversed to allow states to make that decision." Said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.
Obama: Failed in pledge to cut the deficit "we inherited" by half by the end of his first term. 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 $1 trillion in 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.
Romney: Promises to cut $500 billion per year from the federal budget by 2016 to bring spending below 20 percent of the U.S. economy and to balance it by 2020, but vital specifics are lacking. At the same time would increase military spending, reverse $716 billion in Medicare cuts and cut taxes. Defended 2008 bailout of financial institutions as a necessary step to avoid the system's collapse, opposed the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. Stayed silent on the debt-ceiling deal during its negotiation, only announcing his opposition to the final agreement shortly before lawmakers voted on it. Instead, endorsed GOP "cut, cap and balance" bill that had no chance of enactment. Favors constitutional balanced budget amendment. Proposes 10 percent cut in federal workforce, elimination of $1.6 billion in Amtrak subsidies and cuts of $600 million in support for the arts and broadcasting.
Obama: Term marked by high unemployment, a deep recession that began in previous administration and officially ended within six months, and gradual recovery. Persistently high jobless rates of over 8 percent until the rate dropped to 7.8 in September, the same as it was in February 2009, Obama's first full month in office. The rate hit a high of 10 percent in October 2009. Businesses have added jobs for more than two years straight while public sector jobs have lagged. 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.
Romney: Favors lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. Would replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. Proposes replacing certain provisions of the law toughening financial industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector. Proposes changing the law tightening accounting corporate regulations to ease requirements for mid-sized companies. "We don't want to tell the world that Republicans are against all regulation. No, regulation is necessary to make a free market work. But it has to be updated and modern."