It’s a week before the Iowa Caucus (Jan. 3) and details are sorely missing from the proposed policies by the 2012 Republican presidential primary field. The GOP candidates are eager to point fingers at President Obama and what they view as his failures on the economic front. “When it comes to economic policy, there’s a Chinese wall between President Obama’s economic policy proposals and those of the Republican candidate,” says Georgia Tech economist Thomas Boston. “The primary difference is that the president has proposed comprehensive economic policy, while no Republican candidate has.”
This is not to say that Obama has all of the answers, however.
“What’s missing from the president’s proposals are checks and balances to guarantee that the benefits of his proposals filter down to African-Americans,” Boston adds. “In the final analysis, there’s no question that economic policies Obama proposes are better than those offered by Republican candidates. At the same time, there’s significant room for improvement.” Here’s a hard look at the candidates.—Joyce Jones
Job Creation: Obama introduced the American Jobs Act, which seeks to expand opportunities for the unemployed to find work, provides tax breaks to businesses and revitalize the nation’s infrastructure and several thousand public schools. Housing: Obama’s fighting to confirm a Consumer Financial Protection Bureaudirector to help end predatory lending. His administration implemented initiatives, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, to help struggling borrowers that have produced mixed results. Tax Reform: In addition to basic tax code reforms, Obama strongly supports an end to the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Government Spending: Obama proposes to reduce government spending by eliminating waste and through shared sacrifice that would mean higher taxes on the nation’s wealthiest 1% so lower- and middle-income households don’t bear the brunt of spending cuts. He’s also signaled a willingness to consider reforms to entitlement and other social safety net programs.
Job Creation:Michele Bachmann believes that cutting government spending and taxes, and reforming the Internal Revenue code is the key to job creation because it will give businesses the confidence they need to start hiring.
Housing: Bachmann voted against the Home Affordable Mortgage Program created to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages at more affordable rates, but says she would help struggling moms fight foreclosure.
Tax Reform: Bachmann says that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and supports a flat income tax rate for all Americans, regardless of their income.
Government Spending: Bachmann voted against increasing the nation’s debt ceiling and has positioned herself as a fierce proponent of deep cuts in government spending.
Job Creation:Newt Gingrich has offered a 12-step job creation plan that is based on repealing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, estate taxes, the Affordable Care Act, making permanent the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and increased investment in American energy sources.
Housing: Gingrich hasn’t unveiled a formal housing policy, but has called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill, which he says overregulates banks, discouraging them from making mortgage loans and encouraging foreclosures.
Tax Reform: Gingrich would give taxpayers a choice of filing under the current system or pay a 15% tax. Corporate taxes would be reduced from a maximum of 35% to 12.5% and he would eliminate capital gains and estate taxes.
Government Spending: Gingrich supports a constitutional balanced budget amendment but believes without a balanced budget the nation’s debt limit must be raised to avoid default.
Job Creation:Jon Huntsman’s American Jobs Plan calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, cutting regulations, lowering taxes and energy independence, as well as establishing new lines of international trade.
Housing: As president, Huntsman would shutter Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also would seek to protect homeowners’ property rights. He would, however, scale back home mortgage deductions.
Tax Reform: Huntsman favors lower income tax rates and the elimination of deductions and loopholes. He also would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and phase out all subsidies.
Government Spending: Huntsman would reduce government spending to 19% of GDP.
Job Creation:Ron Paul believes that the best way to create jobs is to get government out of the way.
Housing: Paul says the federal government should get out of the housing business and allow the free market to determine pricing. He believes that instead of bailing out banks, the funds should have gone to mortgage holders to save their homes.
Tax Reform: Paul believes that the IRS, and income and estate taxes should be abolished. He would support sales taxes and certain excise taxes and tariffs. Government Spending: Paul says he’d cut government spending by $1 trillion in one year, eliminate all war spending and close several federal agencies.
Job Creation:Rick Perry’s jobs plan calls for lower taxes, balancing the federal budget and opening American energy fields to expand energy exploration and development.
Housing: Perry would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which he says were at the “heart” of the nation’s economic meltdown and gave false hope to homebuyers.
Tax Reform: Perry’s “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan would allow taxpayers to opt to pay a 20% flat tax rate and deduct mortgage interest and charitable donations, cut corporate tax rate to 20% and eliminate the estate tax.
Government Spending: As president, Perry would cap government spending at 18% of GDP and calls for a balanced budget by 2020. Any new spending would require cuts in other areas. He also would eliminate the departments of Education, Energy and Commerce.
Job Creation:Mitt Romney’s jobs plan calls for reducing the corporate income tax rate to 25%; expanding energy exploration; giving states the responsibility and funding for job retraining and cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5%.
Housing: Romney believes the foreclosure process should run its course and hit rock bottom so that investors can buy and renovate homes and fill them with renters until a market turnaround but would consider proposals to help borrowers refinance mortgages to stay in their homes.
Tax Reform: Romney would lower the corporate tax rate to 25% and make permanent the Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthy.
Government Spending: Romney would cut government spending by $500 billion in his first term by defunding Amtrak, reducing foreign aid and turning over some federal government programs to the states.
Job Creation:Rick Santorum supports cutting taxes to encourage entrepreneurship, removing regulatory burdens, and expanding energy exploration.
Housing: Santorum would phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s government-backed role in mortgages and home ownership within five years.
Tax Reform: Santorum supports a 0% corporate tax and opposes any national sales tax. He also would repeal corporate and estate taxes.
Government Spending: Supports a constitutional amendment to balance the budget and cut government spending to 18% of GDP. He would cut corporate taxes for manufacturers and restructure entitlements.