As election day gets closer, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney say they want to “strengthen the middle class” and “create jobs.” But the Democrat and Republican platforms on how to foster economic growth are starkly different.
When Mitt Romney or his campaign supporters speak to Latino groups, their biggest selling point is that small business owners will benefit from Romney’s policies because the candidate calls for lowering taxes and loosening some existing regulations in some industries. This, say Romney supporters, will create jobs. “Small business owners are the economic engine of this country, and Hispanic small business entrepreneurs, especially Hispanic women, are the fastest-growing segment, but they are suffering under this President,” said José Fuentes, a co-chair of the Juntos Con Romney team, recently.
Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign calls for greatly reduced government spending in some key areas, as well as tax cuts. Among his key campaign promises are extending the Bush tax cuts permanently, reducing personal income taxes by 20 percent for all Americans and reducing the corporate income tax, and eliminating the estate tax and well as taxes on investment income. Romney wants to keep capital gains and dividends taxed at the rate of 15 percent for individuals with annual income over $200,000 dollars.
Romney vows to repeal Obama’s signature health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, saying the federal legislation is too costly and intrusive, and wants individual states to come up with their own plans to insure those who need it. Governor Romney argues looser regulation and lower taxes will help create jobs. To curb the deficit, Romney proposes cuts in government programs such as Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income families; about half of Latino children are covered under Medicaid.
Instead of the federal government adjusting Medicaid dollars based on the proportion of residents who need it, the Romney and Ryan plan is to give block grants to each state, and then allowing states to disburse funds as they see fit. On Medicare, Romney says the current path is unsustainable. His plan calls for changing Medicare for seniors who are not close to retirement age to a fixed-amount benefit (voucher plan) that each senior can then use to buy into an insurance plan.
The Obama campaign advocates the opposite, saying Obama’s policies over the last few years, like the passage of the Affordable Care Act as well as the economic stimulus, has helped bring more economic security to Latino families. To curb the deficit, the Obama administration argues for keeping taxes the same for most Americans, but increasing taxes on families making more than $250,000, from a rate of 36 percent to 39.6 percent.
Obama would lower the top corporate tax rate, but wants to increase capital gains taxes on investment income from 15 percent to 20 percent. To curb Medicare spending, Obama calls for lowering Medicare payments made to health care providers, including hospitals, and setting new fees on medical device makers and drug companies.
When Obama or his campaign supporters speak to Latino groups, their main selling point is that the Administration’s investments on health care, energy and education provide more of a middle-class ‘safety net’ than the Republican plan. “We know economically we have more work to do as a nation, but this President has created four and a half million jobs and we have 29 straight months of job growth,” said Cecilia Muñoz, President Obama’s director of Domestic Policy, recently to NBC Latino.
“On economic matters, it’s easy to map the two very different visions of the candidates,” says José Gabilondo, an associate professor of law at Florida International University who teaches tax and corporate finance, and who worked at the Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Romney represents a kind of amalgamation of supply side ideas — he is anti-regulation and believes in lower marginal tax rates,” Gabilondo explains. “Philosophically, Romney espouses the minimal state,” he adds.
“Obama’s policies, on the other hand, represents what is left of the interventionist state, what is left of the New Deal,” says Gabilondo.
Latino voters, then, face two very different choices between two parties this November on government spending, job creation and taxes.