Several weeks ago, Associated Press writers Brian Bakst and Chris Tomlinson listed the political positions of the contenders for the GOP nomination for president of the United States. They are Republicans: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Since the Iowa Caucus is Tuesday, January 3, 2012, it is important to review what stand the candidates have taken on some of the more important issues and the nation’s first early voting process will serve as a bell-weather indication on the effectiveness of each candidate to get their message across to the electorate and how it has been received; now that the debates are over.
Although the results of this event may be overstated as such but for those who do not finish in the top three positions it, especially Bachmann, who is in the single digits, it may very well be the death knell of their long journey and their campaigns may come to and end by Wednesday, or not too long afterward. Although there aren’t any real specifics in these points that are listed, still, there is enough information to get a glimpse of perhaps the moral leanings or character of a few of them and one can make a determination as to whether or not if this is the person who merits any further support and of whose values you can identify with.
Bachmann, Huntsman, Perry, Santorum and Romney are for a constitutional ban on abortion.
Gingrich is against federal subsidies to fund abortions while agreeing, along with Paul, Romney and Perry that the states should decided their own abortion laws.
Bachmann and Santorum opposed the federal bailout of the financial industry (TARP) which averted a default on the U.S. debt and raising the debt ceiling by Congress, While Huntsman supported it.
Romney supported the financial bailout but criticized GM and Chrysler receiving government assistance. Romney wants to cap federal spending at 20% GDP while Perry favors 18% of GDP.
Paul would eliminate five Cabinet-level agencies [which ones??], end spending on existing conflicts [post-war Iraq and Afghanistan] and end foreign aid.
Perry wants to cut the pay of the members of Congress [like that’s really going to make a big difference].
Gingrich, as well as Romney, is for a balanced budget but didn’t mention specifics.
ECONOMY: Bachmann feels the best way to create jobs is to eliminate all the excessive overregulation by the federal government [the same as Santorum, Huntsman, Perry and Romney.
Paul wants to eliminate most federal regulations] which limits capital investments and proposes, along with Gingrich, Perry and Romney, the repeal of financial-industry regulations enacted in response to the sub-prime housing crisis.
Gingrich feels that the Federal Reserve’s power to set interest rates artificially low is what is stifling the economy, and Paul wants to eliminate the Federal Reserve altogether.
Huntsman, along with Santorum, believes in eliminating corporate subsidies, lower corporate taxes [same as Romney], and spur jobs through energy development [the same as Santorum], seek repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law [the same as all candidates], break up big banks [financial institutions and insurance companies] as hedge against future bailouts. He also wants to break up big banks as a hedge against another financial bailout.
Paul wants a return to the gold standard instead of using the dollar.
Romney more trade deals to spur growth. Replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts.
EDUCATION: Bachmann, along with Paul [and Romney, who later changed his mind in bowing to the interest and demands of teachers’ unions], believes in abolishing the Department of Education while Gingrich and Santorum favors shrinking it. She says the federal government doesn't [shouldn’t] have a role in education; jurisdiction is with state and local governments.
Huntsman says, “No Child Left Behind hasn't worked for this country. It ought to be done away with." He favors more school choice [charter and private schools??].
Perry opposed No Child Left Behind law, whereas Romney and Santorum support No Child Left Behind law.
ENERGY: Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Gingrich, Huntsman and Paul advocate reducing regulatory restrictions to drilling.
Gingrich wants oil and natural gas industries to drill offshore for reserves now blocked from development by federal regulation, and end restrictions on Western oil shale development.
Huntsman wants to phase out (eliminate) energy subsidies and subject fuel distribution network to federal review to "break Big oil's monopoly" and expand opportunities for natural gas development and production.
Paul wants development of coal and nuclear power, eliminate gasoline tax, and provide tax credits for alternative fuel technology [wind, solar, geothermal, etc.].
Perry proposes more development on restricted federal lands to spur drilling.
Romney supports drilling in the Gulf, the outer continental shelves, Western lands, offshore Alaska; and exploitation of shale oil deposits.
Santorum, Perry and Romney favor drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
NOTE: These proposals would provide many thousands of jobs and stimulate the economy but at what cost to the environment?
ENVIRONMENT: Bachmann wants to repeal "radical environmental laws that kill access to natural resources." She voted to bar EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. She, along with Romney, opposes cap and trade.
Gingrich, along with Perry, wants to convert the EPA into "environmental solutions agency" with no enforcement powers, devoted to research and "more energy, more jobs and a better environment; although he once backed tougher environmental regulation.
Huntsman wants to end the EPA's "regulatory reign of terror." Yet, he acknowledges the scientific evidence that humans contribute to global warming.
Paul says emission standards should be set by states or regions. He, along with Huntsman and Romney, believed human activity "probably does" contribute to global warming; now later, he, along with Perry and Romney, says that there isn’t conclusive evidence [it hasn’t been proven] that human activity contributes to global warming and calls such science a "hoax."
Santorum also believes the science establishing human activity as a likely contributor to global warming is "patently absurd" and "junk science."
GAY MARRIAGE: Bachmann, Romney, Santorum and Perry [who earlier was against it before he was for it] support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Gingrich says, “If the Defense of Marriage Act fails, you have no choice except a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.”
Huntsman supports same-sex civil unions, with many of the rights of marriage, and says states should decide their own marriage laws and not the federal government [the same as Paul and Perry].
Bachmann favors limits on medical malpractice lawsuits as a way to control health care costs, and she voted against expanding Children's Health Insurance Program.
Gingrich wants to prohibit insurers from canceling or charging hefty increases to insurance holders who get sick [or have a preexisting health condition??]. He wants a "generous" tax credit to help buy private insurance, although he previously supported mandatory coverage [like ObamaCare].
Huntsman says,"Let the states experiment," and he is open to restricting or limiting Medicare benefits for the wealthy [like Perry].
Paul opposes compulsory insurance and all federal subsidies for coverage.
Perry wants to raise eligibility age [to what??] for Medicare benefits, offer federal aid (“subsidies”) to help elderly buy private insurance instead of getting Medicare benefits.
Romney opposes federal mandate to obtain coverage [ObamaCare]; introduced health insurance mandate in Massachusetts [RomneyCare or is it ObomneyCare??]. He also proposes "generous" subsidies [like Perry] to help future retirees buy private insurance instead of going on Medicare.
Santorum wants Congress to defund Obama’s Health Care Law if passed, and supported Bush administration's prescription drug program for the elderly.
NOTE: All the candidates would seek repeal of Obama's health care law.
IMMIGRATION: Bachman favors a fence all along the 1,900-mile U.S.-Mexico border, not just the 650 miles built, and she opposes government benefits for illegal immigrants and their children [no matter how long they have lived in the U.S. and are law-abiding and pay taxes].
Gingrich supports option of giving legal status to illegal immigrants who have sunk roots in the U.S. and lived otherwise lawfully, and supports path to citizenship for illegal immigrants' children who perform U.S. military service. He also wants to make English the official language. He wants to divert more Homeland Security assets to the Mexican border.
Huntsman thinks it is unrealistic to deport all illegal immigrants out of the country. In Utah, he threatened to veto a bill to repeal cheaper in-state college tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants [so that means he is in favor of cheaper in-state college tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants].
Paul says, “Do whatever it takes to secure the border and end the right to citizenship of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants [even if they served honorably and with distinction in the Armed Forces]"; and he wants no social services for illegal immigrants and aggressive deportation [like Bachmann].
Perry opposes a complete 1,900 mile U.S.-Mexico border fence [what about the 650 mile one that’s already built??], but instead wants more border agents [like Gingrich]. He supports continued U.S. citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants [like Gingrich].
Romney favors complete U.S.-Mexico border fence [like Bachmann and Santorum], opposes education and social service] benefits to illegal immigrants [like Paul, Bachmann, Romney and Santorum].
Santorum supports complete border fence [like Bachmann and Romney], opposes education and social service benefits to illegal immigrants [like Paul, Bachmann, and Romney].
SOCIAL SECURITY: Bachmann wants to keep Social Security for older workers [what age??] and wean everybody else off. The age for retirement benefits will have to go up for new workers [like Huntsman and Perry].
Gingrich wants to give younger workers the "option" of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts [privatizing social security benefits in risky equity investments??].
Huntsman and Perry want to restrict benefits for the wealthy.
Paul, like Gingrich, says younger workers should be able to "opt out" [diverting Social Security taxes to risky private retirement accounts or other savings] of Social Security taxes and retirement benefits.
Perry previously branded Social Security a "disease," now says it should be saved. He supports private accounts [like Paul, Santorum and Gingrich].
Romney says that reducing inflation adjustments for rich retirees are among options that should be considered [Huntsman and Perry differ on that matter].
TAXES: Bachmann wants a tax holiday [no one is taxed on their personal income??] followed by 5% corporate tax rate for U.S. companies operating overseas that invest their profits back in the U.S. economy.
Gingrich wants to offer the American taxpayer a “choice" of filing under the current system or paying a 15% tax rate, preserving mortgage interest rates [prevent them from rising] and allow charitable deductions. He also wants to cut corporate tax to 12.5%.
Huntsman favors lower income tax rates coupled with the elimination of deductions [including charitable in opposition to Gingrich] and cut corporate tax to 25%.
Paul wants to eliminate the entire federal income tax system and the IRS, and defund half the government.
Perry, like Gingrich, wants to offer the American taxpayer a "choice" between the current system and 20 % tax on income, preserving mortgage interest rates and charitable deductions. Also, for each individual or dependent, he wants to exempt them from paying taxes on the first $12,500 in income.
Romney wants no one with an adjusted gross income under $200,000 to be taxed on interest, dividends or capital gains and to cut corporate tax rate to 25% [like Huntsman].
Santorum proposes zero corporate tax. "If you manufacture in America, you aren't going to pay any taxes." He opposes any national sales tax.
NOTE: All candidates support eliminating the estate tax and keeping Bush-era tax cuts.
TERRORISM: Bachmann wants to expand Guantanamo [like Gingrich], and no Miranda or constitutional rights for foreign terrorist suspects [enemy combatants]. She approves the use of “waterboarding” [torture or extreme interrogation techniques] and probably ‘rendition’ as an option in prisoner interrogations.
Gingrich supports extending and strengthening investigative powers of Patriot Act and creation of the Homeland Security apparatus. In 2009, he said of waterboarding: "It's not something we should do."
Huntsman said Homeland Security Department has been heavy-handed, conveying a "fortress security mentality that is not American [unlike Gingrich]," and opposes waterboarding [unlike Bachmann and the 2009 Gingrich].
Paul opposes Patriot Act as an infringement on liberty [like Huntsman and unlike Gingrich], and says: "Waterboarding is torture, it's illegal under International Law and under our law, and it's also immoral [unlike Bachmann,Perry and Santorum and like Huntsman and Gingrich 2009]."
Perry said it was "unprincipled" for Republicans to vote for creation of the Homeland Security Department [like Huntsman and unlike Gingrich and Santorum]. Supports continued use of Guantanamo Bay detention for suspected terrorists [like Bachmann], and that U.S. interrogators should "use any technique" short of torture, which he did not define [Is "waterboarding" torture according to Perry??].
Romney wants no constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects [like Bachmann]. His campaign says he does not consider waterboarding to be torture [like Bachmann, Santorum, Romney and Perry and unlike 2009 Gingrich and Paul].
Santorum defends creation of the Homeland Security Department [like Gingrich and unlike Huntsman and Paul]. He voted to reauthorize Patriot Act [unlike Paul]. And says airport screeners should employ racial or ethnic profiling; "Muslims would be someone you'd look at, absolutely." Supports continued use of Guantanamo Bay detention for suspected terrorists [like Bachmann and Perry]. He says waterboarding has proved effective [and is not "torture"??].
WAR: Bachmann opposed intervention in Libya and said that might help terrorists there, and called Afghanistan a war "we must and can win" with sufficient troops and money [now that Osama bin-laden is dead, is it worth staying there just to fight the Taliban and pump billions of dollars into a corrupt Karzai government??].
Gingrich supported the Iraq war and opposed early U.S. troop withdrawal and said U.S. forces should not have been used in the Libya campaign, after he had called for such an intervention at the onset [he was "for" it before he was "against" it]. He opposes "precipitous" [all at once??] pullout from Afghanistan.
Huntsman proposes reducing U.S. involvement in conflicts around the globe and, unlike most rivals, says Pentagon budget should be cut. He opposes any U.S. military assistance of new Libyan government and says no more than 15,000 U.S. troops should be left in Afghanistan [for how long; indefinitely??].
Paul wants to bring most or all troops home from foreign posts "as quick as the ships could get there [like Huntsman]." He opposed U.S. intervention in Libya [like Bachmann and Gingrich at first] and wants to cut the Pentagon budget [like Huntsman].
Perry criticized planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq this year and Afghanistan next year but has not said how many troops should stay or for how long.
Romney has not specified the troop numbers behind his pledge to ensure the "force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully" [whatever the mission is] in Afghanistan.
Santorum said in September that 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops should remain in Iraq and that troops should withdraw from Afghanistan "a little slower" [Gingrich's 'precipitous' pullout??] than the timetable Obama is planning.
NOTE: Some of Texas Congressman Ron Paul's political solutions seem to be a bit too 'Draconian' or just plain crazy.
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