Obama: Once opposed federal recognition of same-sex marriage, later said his views were "evolving" and has not taken a position on that since. Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Supports civil unions and letting states decide about marriage. Switched positions on Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages. Once a supporter of the law, in 2008 he said he favored its repeal. The law remains, but his Justice Department no longer defends the statute's constitutionality. Achieved repeal of the military ban on openly gay service members.
Romney: Favors constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, says policy should be set federally, not by states. "Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state." But said he would not seek to restore a ban on openly gay service members.
Obama: Achieved landmark overhaul putting U.S. on path to universal coverage if the Supreme Court upholds the heath care law and its 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 and low-income people will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small business gets help for offering insurance and Medicaid will be expanded, with the biggest changes starting 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."
Romney: Promises to work for the repeal of the federal 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. Proposes to guarantee that people who are "continuously covered" for a certain period be protected against losing insurance if they get sick, leave their job and need another policy.
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. Introduce "generous" but undetermined subsidies to help future retirees buy private insurance, or let them have the option of traditional Medicare, with a gradually increasing age to qualify for benefits.
Obama: Failed to deliver on a promised immigration overhaul, with the defeat of legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the armed forces. Says he is still committed to it. Government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama, nearly 400,000 in each of the last three years.
Romney: Favors U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. Opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Establish an immigration-status verification system for employers and punish them if they hire non-citizens who do not prove their legal status. Proposes more visas for holders of advanced degrees in math, science and engineering who have U.S. job offers, and would award permanent residency to foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools with a degree in those fields.
Obama: Has not proposed a comprehensive plan to address Social Security's long-term financial problems. During budget negotiations in 2011, proposed adopting a new measurement of inflation that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits. The proposal would reduce the long-term financing shortfall by about 25 percent, according to the Social Security actuaries.