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2012 Presidential Candidate Profiles

As the presidential election approaches and news coverage becomes more intense, you may have thought to yourself, “I probably should start paying attention.” But let’s face it, there was a Facebook fight in your newsfeed, you have to catch up on “Modern Family”… you just have better things to do. Sadly, I have been guilty of this logic also. Even though you want to vote, figuring out what these candidates endorse can be a serious task. Watching the debates is like watching some catty Telemundo talk show, where everyone only speaks politician. And discussing politics with your friends is no help, either. No one knows what they are talking about (exception: Lauren Sukin). Thankfully, The Knightly News has got your back. Compiled here are the candidates’ backgrounds and views on the pressing political issues. Read and decide which candidates you like, love, or gotta have. (It’s as easy as ice cream!)

Barack Obama. So far, President Obama is the only absolute presidential candidate. If you haven’t heard, he is a Democrat, and will be running for re-election. His main goal is to “finish what he started” since he has taken office. Thus, what can be gathered about his political stances is in a review of what he’s done in office. For the economy, Obama has passed the Tax Relief and Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act, which introduced various corporate tax cuts. He also passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which increased infrastructure spending and state funding. (Next time you see road construction, take a look at the signs. You might see them reference the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.) If reelected,Obama will attempt to stimulate the economy with further spending cuts. On foreign policy, Obama considers U.S. involvement in the Middle East unfinished. His goals include finishing the fight against Al Queda and the Taliban, securing all terrorist nuclear weapons, and achieving true energy security. He did officially end the Iraq war in December. Troops have since refocused their mission to fighting in Afghanistan. On energy and the environment, Obama has created a quarter of a million jobs in the clean energy industry, though his administration has had to answer questions about the failure of green tech company Solyndra. He has created regulations for off-shore drilling to prevent another BP disaster. He has also approved projects to introduce the use of wind and solar power. Obama believes education is a national priority. He has worked to reform the educational system to raise its standards. The American Jobs Act could create 400,000 jobs for teachers. He also increased the funding grant for college educations, which now has nine million recipients. With immigration, Obama has not made any reforms since he has been in office. However, reforms are in the process. The “blueprints” of an immigration reform include securing American borders, holding businesses accountable for hiring illegal workers, and requiring “responsibilities” (most likely meaning taxes) from people who are living here illegally. For healthcare, Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, most commonly referred to as Obamacare. It increased the amount of coverage healthcare offers, including covering pre-existing conditions. This healthcare is made more affordable by a Medicaid tax on people who earn an income over $200,000-$250,000. President Obama is pro-choice and voted for a $100 million education initiative to teach kids in an effort to reduce teen pregnancies. He is an advocate for equal LGBT rights and most notably repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Mitt Romney. The frontrunner in the Republican race. He is the former governor of Massachusetts and was also a very successful lawyer and businessman. As a past CEO, he is often lauded for his economic policy. Romney called fixing the economy “day one, job one.” He is a believer in Reaganomics, meaning he wants to cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. To create jobs, Romney plans to cut corporate taxes, cut government spending, and consolidate federal retraining programs. He also plans to repeal Obamacare. To solve our healthcare problems, Romney will offer open-ended subsidies to individuals through their employer for health insurance and tax refunds for people who buy their own insurance. For immigration, Romney believes more state and local authorities should work with the federal government to enforce immigration laws. He is against offering any amnesty to existing illegal immigrants, and plans to endorse and enforce the existing immigration laws throughout the nation. He does, however, advocate for looser immigration laws so that America can have highly skilled immigrant workers in the work force. On foreign policy, Romney’s two main objectives are defeating the Jihadists and competing with Asia. In regards to Afghanistan, Romney believes that top military officials should decide if our continued presence is necessary, but he plans to not make commitments to extended military involvement. He believes most of the responsibility lies with the Afghan people. On education, Romney supports eliminating the Department of Education so that educational reforms can occur on a local level, involving parents and teachers. He also advocates for higher pay for higher quality educators. On the environment, Romney promises to face our economic challenges while also supporting economic growth. He wants to review EPA regulations that have been dubbed “job killing” by conservatives. He plans to invest in alternate energy research that will also create jobs. He is pro-life and against same sex marriage, as well against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. His Mormon faith caused problems for him in the 2008 election, but it has not been a major factor so far. Perhaps those strange “I’m a Mormon” commercials and billboards have helped. Romney’s biggest hurdle in the race is that he is perceived as uncaring or out of touch with the concerns of middle class Americans.

Ron Paul. Paul has been a Texas representative since 1979. Before that he was a doctor and an medical officer in the Air Force. He is known for his libertarian stances and involvement in the Tea Party movement. If you have forgotten (or never knew), the Tea Party is a conservative movement opposing taxation and government spending as well as advocating for a strict following of the Constitution. As a past doctor, Paul has strong opinions about healthcare reform. If elected, he plans to repeal Obamacare and provide tax credits and deductions for medical expenses. He also promises to make sure that what taxpayers pay for Medicare and Medicaid is not redirected to other departments. To address immigration concerns, Ron Paul wants to enforce border security and to not offer amnesty to illegal immigrants. He urges that the U.S. get rid of the welfare systems in border states that act as a support system for illegal immigrants. Paul plans to no longer offer citizenship as a birthright while also insuring that all lawful immigrants are protected. With regard to foreign policy, Paul’s main concerns are avoiding long and costly wars and using intelligence for legitimate threats. He plans to only send the military to war with a clear mission and also plans to stop nation building in foreign countries. Paul believes Iran should be allowed to have nuclear weapons and that the U.S. should not get involved in countries’ internal affairs. If you hate airport security, this is your candidate. Paul plans to restrict the “invasive groping” at TSA security checkpoints and eventually abolish the TSA. To solve the economic crisis, Paul promises to veto any unbalanced budget Congress passes, to refuse raising the debt ceiling, and eliminate the Federal Reserve. He will legalize sound money, eliminate income taxes, and relieve restrictions on small businesses and entrepreneurs. On education, Ron Paul is an advocate for home schooling. He plans to provide $5,000 tax credits to parents for educational spending per child. Sadly, this will not even cover 25% of a year of Pace tuition. With regard to the environment, Paul plans to eliminate the EPA. He believes that polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create. To solve the energy crisis, Paul will remove drilling restrictions on U.S. soil and repeal the federal tax on gasoline. He also will make tax credits available for use of alternate fuel technologies and allow the use of coal and nuclear power. He is pro-life and against same sex marriage. He also favors the right to use medicinal marijuana, which has increased his popularity with younger folk. Because he is libertarian, people have asked if he will run as a third party candidate, but he has announced no plans to do so thus far.

Newt Gingrich. Winner of the South Carolina Primary. Gingrich is a Georgia native and a past Time magazine man of the year (1995). He was Speaker of the House under Clinton and a Georgia House representative back in the ’90’s. Since then, he has been a political consultant. His most promising attribute as a candidate is that he understands politics and is a strong debater. He is also the author of 23 books about policy. His main focus for this campaign is making government more efficient. To save our economy, Gingrich will create jobs by cutting corporate income taxes and open up more drilling in the U.S. He believes we should keep the current tax rate and advocates introducing a flat tax of 15%. He also wants to reform the Federal Reserve to reduce inflation. Gingrich wants to repeal Obamacare and make healthcare more affordable and allow its purchase across state lines. He also plans to mandate that patients be informed of the costs of procedures before they are conducted. On foreign policy, Gingrich urges that we understand our enemy better and focus not on each country independently but on eradicating the threat of Muslim extremists worldwide. To make our county strong he urges that we secure our borders and relieve our energy dependency. On energy and the environment, Gingrich would end bans on oil shale development in the American West as well as financing clean energy research. He would replace the EPA with an environmental solution agency that would operate on a local level. In regards to immigration, Gingrich plans to control our borders completely by January 1, 2014. He believes that we should create a way for people who want to work in the U.S. to do so easily. To make this possible, he will restructure the system to allow highly skilled immigrants to work in the U.S., add a guest worker program, and create a more efficient visa program. He plans to create a path towards legal residency for the illegal immigrants who are already here. But, Gingrich insists that all illegal criminals must be deported. On education, Gingrich believes in introducing a per-pupil funding system for students K-12 and offering tax credits to families who home school. He plans to shrink the Department of Education to bring the power of reform back to the community. He is pro-life and against same sex marriages, despite the fact that his sister is a lesbian and a LGBT rights advocate. Even though Gingrich’s experience in D.C. is an asset, it is also his biggest hurdle. Eighty-four charges of ethics violations were filed against Gingrich in 1997, resulting in his being reprimanded by the House of Representatives and fined $300,000. The ethics investigation led to his eventual resignation from Congress. There are also concerns about his work for Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored loan and mortgage corporation which contributed to the housing crisis. Although he knows the inner workings of Washington, he has a past that can be used negatively against him.

Rick Santorum. The most socially conservative of the nominees. He was a lawyer until he was elected as a Pennsylvania Congressman and then a Senator. He lost the Senate seat in 2006, and started working as a business adviser and a Fox News contributor. His campaign focuses on traditional family values and regaining trust in American government. To solve our economic issues, Santorum will cut taxes and limit government spending. He will cut corporate income tax rates in half, and eliminate them completely for manufacturers. He would pass a balanced budget bill to cap government spending at 18% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and plans to cut five trillion dollars of government spending in five years. He will also repeal Obamacare. Santorum has his own plan for healthcare, entitled the Santorum Solution. He plans to reduce the cost of healthcare through competition between providers and allow insurance to be purchased across state lines. He will also create a tax deduction for Americans who buy their own healthcare. For education, Santorum believes in a personalized education in which the core deciders are families and local schools. Reforms, he believes, should be made on a local level. On foreign policy, Santorum opposes withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He refuses to rule out military action against Iran, which he says has been at war with America since 1979. He thinks the U.S. should reinstate enhanced interrogation techniques to locate and finish Al Queda and the Taliban. For immigration, Santorum supports a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. He does not believe mass deportations for illegal immigrants is the best option, but he wouldn’t offer them amnesty, either. With regard to the environment, Santorum would eliminate all government energy subsidies in an effort to cut government spending and wants to open up more drilling in this country to eliminate our oil dependency in the Middle East. He is also a nonbeliever in global warming, calling it “junk science” and “absurd.” Santorum is best known for his strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage rights which has gained him social conservative support. His focus on family and his strong Catholic faith has also secured recognition by Evangelical supporters. His biggest hurdle in this race has been funding. Santorum does not have the bank account or the political backers that the other candidates do. What really put him on the map was his win in the Iowa Caucus, after he visited all 99 counties in that state. That’s dedication.

By Taylor Esler, Managing Editor ’12

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