Romney: Protect the status quo for people 55 and over but, for the next generations of retirees, raise the retirement age for full benefits by one or two years and reduce inflation increases in benefits for wealthier recipients.
Obama: Wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and ensure they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. Supports extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making under $200,000, or $250,000 for couples. But in 2010, agreed to a two-year extension of the lower rates for all. Wants to let the top tax rates go back up 3 to 4 points to 39.6 percent and 36 percent, and raise rates on capital gains and dividends for the wealthy. Health care law provides for tax on highest-value health insurance plans. Together with Congress, built a first-term record of significant tax cuts for families and business, some temporary.
Romney: Drop all tax rates by 20 percent, bringing the top rate, for example, down to 28 percent from 35 percent and the lowest rate to 8 percent instead of 10 percent. Curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest. End Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals, eliminate capital gains tax for families making below $200,000 and cut corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent. Does not specify which tax breaks or programs he would curtail to help cover costs. Dodged on extending cut in payroll tax, saying he doesn't like "temporary little Band-Aids" but also he's not for raising taxes "anywhere."
Obama: Approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden, set policy that U.S. would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice that had essentially ended later in George W. Bush's presidency. Largely carried forward Bush's key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite promise to close the prison. Also has continued with military commissions instead of civilian courts for detainees and invocation of state secrets privilege in court. Expanded use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen.
Romney: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.
Obama: Ended the Iraq war he had opposed and inherited, increased the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all out by the end of 2014. Approved use of U.S. air power in NATO-led campaign that helped Libyan opposition topple Moammar Gadhafi's government. Major reductions coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of agreement with congressional Republicans to cut $487 billion in military spending over a decade. Declined to repeat the Libya air power commitment for Syrian opposition. Opposes a near-term military strike on Iran, either by the U.S. or by Israel, to sabotage nuclear facilities that could be misused to produce a nuclear weapon. Says the U.S. will never tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran but negotiation and pressure through sanctions are the right way to prevent that outcome. Reserves the right to one day conclude that only a military strike can stop Iran from getting the bomb.
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" in Afghanistan. "This is not time for America to cut and run." Said Obama was wrong to begin reducing troop levels as soon as he did. Would increase strength of armed forces, including number of troops and warships, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016. Has spoken in favor of covert action by the U.S. and regional allies in Syria but "the right course is not military" intervention by the U.S. Criticizes Obama's approach on Iran as too conciliatory and associates himself more closely with hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Has not explicitly threatened a U.S. military strike, but in one Republican debate said that re-electing Obama would guarantee an Iranian bomb and that electing him would guarantee Iran would not get a nuclear weapon. "Of course you take military action" if sanctions and internal opposition fail to dissuade Tehran from making a nuclear weapon.