As the 2012 campaign reached its final weekend, Republican nominee Mitt Romney argued for a change from President Barack Obama’s economic policies, while the incumbent said the challenger’s proposals were those that led to the economic downturn in the first place.
The two men made their contrasting arguments in dueling CNN opinion pieces. The two candidates are locked in a White House race that polls call a dead heat. Election Day is Tuesday.
Romney reiterated his call for increasing domestic energy supplies, including oil and gas; cutting federal spending on domestic programs while raising defense outlays; promoting more trade, and removing regulations on business, all of which he said would be in contrast to Obama’s programs.
Obama said Romney would return the country to where it was under President George W. Bush, who left office with the U.S. in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Instead, Obama argued, the nation should follow former President Bill Clinton’s approach and ask the wealthiest to pay more in taxes to fund education and job training, and to reduce the deficit.
“The path Gov. Romney offers is the one we tried for eight years after President Clinton left office — a philosophy that says those at the very top get to play by a very different set of rules than everyone else,” Obama wrote. “Bigger tax cuts for the wealthy that we can’t afford. Encouraging companies to ship jobs and profits overseas. Fewer rules for big banks and insurance companies. They’re the policies that caused this mess in the first place.”
Obama said the key to improving the economy was to help the middle class.
“When these Americans do well, America does well,” Obama said. “That’s the change we need right now. It’s time to finish what we’ve started.”
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, criticized Obama for proposed cuts to the defense budget. Known as the sequester, the legislation requires $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions over a decade — half of which would affect the Defense Department — unless Congress comes up with an alternative deficit-reduction plan.
Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, backed the plan as part of a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit.
“Our soldiers should never lack the tools they need to complete their mission and come home safely,” Romney wrote. “I have always believed that the first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. And preventing war is a supreme national interest.”
He pledged to work on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation, calling attention to his ability to deal with a Democratic legislature as governor of Massachusetts.
“I was always ready to reach across the aisle and I can proudly point to the results,” Romney wrote. “I’ve learned that when we come together to solve problems in a practical spirit, we can accomplish miracles.”
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