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."
Obama: Has approved waivers freeing states from the most onerous requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law with their agreement to improve how they prepare and evaluate students. "Race to the Top" grant competition has rewarded winning states with billions of dollars for pursuing education policies Obama supports. Won approval for a college tuition tax credit worth up to $10,000 over four years and more money for Pell Grants for low-income college students. Wants Congress to agree to reduce federal aid to colleges that go too far in raising tuition. Average tuition at four-year public colleges surged 26 percent in his term, by $1,800 to $8,655, as states cut aid, but federal grants and tax credits sheltered students from most of the increase, leaving them paying only $570 more.
Romney: Supported the federal accountability standards of No Child Left Behind law. In 2007, said he was wrong earlier in career when he wanted the Education Department shut because he came to see the value of the federal government in "holding down the interests of the teachers' unions" and putting kids and parents first. Has said the student testing, charter-school incentives and teacher evaluation standards of Obama's "Race to the Top" competition "make sense" although the federal government should have less control of education. Says increases in federal student aid encourage tuition to go up, too. Wants to see private lenders return to the federal student loan program.
ENERGY and ENVIRONMENT:
Obama: Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but U.S. produced more oil in 2010 than it has since 2003 and all forms of energy production have increased under Obama. Approved drilling plan in Arctic Ocean opposed by environmentalists. Proposes Congress give oil market regulators more power to control price manipulation by speculators and stiffer fines for doing so. Sets goal of cutting oil imports by half by 2020.
Achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards for automobiles that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles. Achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. The rules on mercury could force dozens of older coal-fired plants to shut or spend billions to upgrade. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source.
Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions. Shelved plan to toughen health standards on lung-damaging smog. Rejected Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada but supports fast-track approval of a segment of it. Proposes ending subsidies to oil industry but has failed to persuade Congress to do so.
Romney: Pledges U.S. will become independent of energy sources outside of North America by 2020, through more aggressive exploitation of domestic oil, gas, coal and other resources and quick approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Supports opening the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska. He also has proposed reducing obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development. Proposes accelerating drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records.