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WHERE THEY STAND: A checklist of Clinton, Trump on issues

By now, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have taken a stab at all sorts of issues and an actual stand on many.

Election Day won’t settle what gets done over the next four years — only who gets to try. Nearly all their ideas require Congress to go along, a tall order.

Even so, they’ve presented voters with distinct choices and sketched out the opening act for an administration that will be engaging lawmakers across the policy landscape.

A checklist of where the Democratic and Republican candidates stand on a selection of issues:

ABORTION: Nominate Supreme Court justices who support abortion rights?




CLINTON: 12 weeks of government-paid family and medical leave. Double the child tax credit for families with children 4 and younger, to $2,000 per child.

TRUMP: 6 weeks of leave for new mothers, with the government paying wages equivalent to unemployment benefits. New income tax deduction for child care expenses, other tax benefits and a new rebate or tax credit for low-income families.


CLINTON: $60 billion to switch to cleaner energy. Maintain Obama administration commitment to cut emissions of heat-trapping gasses by up to 30 percent by 2025.

TRUMP: Calls attempts to remedy global warming “a very, very expensive form of tax.” Previously called global warming a hoax.


CLINTON: Tax increases on wealthy would help pay for programs, but the extra revenue would not go to bringing down the debt.

TRUMP: Promises massive tax cuts, without proposing curbs in expensive benefit programs; analysts forecast debt would rise more than under Clinton.


CLINTON: Universal pre-kindergarten within 10 years, to be achieved by giving money to states.

TRUMP: $20 billion in first year to help states expand school choice.


CLINTON: Government-paid tuition at in-state, public colleges for students from families making less than $85,000. Income threshold to rise to $125,000 by 2021.

TRUMP: Cap student loan payments at 12.5 percent of a borrower’s income, with loan forgiveness if they make payments for 15 years.


CLINTON: Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in U.S. within 10 years. Measured support for hydraulic fracturing.

TRUMP: “Unleash American energy” by stripping regulations to allow unfettered production of oil, coal, natural gas and other sources. Rescind Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration strategy to fight climate change.


CLINTON: Sees international partnerships as essential for using U.S. influence and lessening chances of war.

TRUMP: “America First” policy means alliances and coalitions would not pass muster unless they produced a net benefit to the U.S.


CLINTON: Renew ban on assault-type weapons, ensure background checks are completed before a gun sale goes forward, mandate such checks for gun-show sales and repeal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability.

TRUMP: Nominate Supreme Court justices who favor Second Amendment gun rights; says public safety is enhanced by gun ownership.


CLINTON: Build on Obama health care law, with federal spending to help with rising out-of-pocket costs. Repeal a tax on generous coverage that was instituted to help pay for the law’s benefits.

TRUMP: Seek to repeal the law and replace it. Studies say his plan would make up to 20 million uninsured.


CLINTON: Provide a path to citizenship, not just legal status, for many people in the country illegally. Expand programs that protect some groups of immigrants from deportation, including those who arrived as children and parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

TRUMP: Deport people in the country illegally who have committed serious crimes, build a wall along Mexico border at Mexico’s expense. No longer proposing to deport all who are illegally in the U.S., but has not proposed steps to give them legal status.


CLINTON: Spend $250 billion over next five years on public infrastructure and direct an additional $25 billion to a new infrastructure bank to help finance local projects.

TRUMP: Has said he would double Clinton’s infrastructure spending, financing with bonds.

IRAN: Support the deal freezing Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for relief of international sanctions?




CLINTON: Mostly would stay the course from the Obama administration.

TRUMP: Vows relentless bombing; has expressed support for outlawed interrogation techniques.


CLINTON: Spend more on roads, tunnels, and other infrastructure. Make government-paid tuition available to most students, enabling more Americans to qualify for higher-paying jobs.

TRUMP: Cut taxes and regulation to spur hiring. Vows manufacturing revival through restrictive practices on imports and improved business climate.


CLINTON: At least $12 an hour, from the current $7.50.

TRUMP: $10.


CLINTON: Expand Syrian refugee program to let in as many as 65,000 over an unspecified time. About 10,000 came in first year of program.

TRUMP: Halt the Syrian refugee program; “extreme” vetting of arrivals from places known for extremism.


CLINTON: Expand benefits for widows and family caregivers, require wealthy people to pay Social Security taxes on more of their income

TRUMP: No cuts to Social Security.


CLINTON: Tax increases for the wealthy, such as minimum 30 percent tax on incomes over $1 million and higher taxes on big inheritances. Little if any change for other taxpayers.

TRUMP: Collapse the seven income tax brackets, which peak at 39.6 percent, into three, with a top rate of 33 percent. Slice corporate income tax and eliminate estate tax. Analysts say the wealthy would benefit disproportionately. Tax Policy Center says middle fifth of taxpayers could save an average of $1,010.


CLINTON: Opposes Trans-Pacific trade deal, after championing the agreement as secretary of state. Mixed record of support and opposition to free trade.

TRUMP: Impose hefty tariffs on countries judged to be trading unfairly, a step that would suppress their exports and increase costs of goods imported into U.S. Renegotiate or withdraw from North American Free Trade Agreement. Opposes Trans-Pacific trade deal.



TRUMP: Less.

Consider the Source bring ‘Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion’ to Wisconsin

Continue reading Consider the Source bring ‘Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion’ to Wisconsin

Another war is not the answer

Last March, while surfing The New York Times web site, I came across a headline that hit me like a physical blow.

In large, bold font it read: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

It was written by John R. Bolton, a hawk in the George W. Bush administration who was one of the biggest cheerleaders for our invasion of Iraq. In his short stint as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2005–06), Bolton spent his time saber rattling and making new enemies. He now calls for war with Iran from his position as a “scholar” with the American Enterprise Institute, the nest of neoconservatives and war profiteers who whipped up war hysteria and goaded the Bush administration to attack Iraq.

In his op-ed, Bolton declared that “President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.” He foresees a world in which Iran’s development of nuclear arms will ignite a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey acquiring the technology from Iran or Pakistan.

(He gives Israel a free pass because everyone understands “that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.” Somehow, I suspect Israel’s enemies might see the situation differently.)

Bolton’s solution? Heavy bombing of nuclear installations throughout Iran combined with “vigorous American support” for regime change in Tehran. He urges this route even though it would only set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program by three to five years.

What happens after that? More bombing? Invasion? Nuke them into submission?

War-mongering has escalated since the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany completed an accord with Iran in July. The deal calls for a reduction of international sanctions in exchange for Iran slowing the development of its nuclear capacity by cutting its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent and reducing the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds. 

The Israelis see Iran as an existential threat. Through their effective lobbying operations, they are pushing Congress to reject the treaty. They want the United States to help destroy Iran, not to make accords with it. I think if the Israelis feel they need to act against Iran they should do so on their own as they have in the past. 

Most Americans are ignorant of Persian history and know Iran only from the American hostage-taking in 1979 or the chants of “Death to America!” by angry crowds. Few of us know that the American CIA deposed a reformist prime minister in 1953 and imposed Shah Reza Pahlavi, a dictator who terrorized the country until he was overthrown in the 1979 revolution. The U.S. and Britain squelched democracy in Iran for decades to maintain control of its oil. Western energy companies and states are still enraged over losing the profits from Iran’s oil fields. 

It is past time we put these imperialist grudges behind us. America’s recent wars have only created more geopolitical chaos. After years of sanctions, the Iranian government and people want to rebuild their economy. European, Chinese and Russian businesses are anxious to restore trade with the nation. We should be as well. The best course to the future is economic and cultural engagement, not war.

Congress will vote on the Iranian accord in September. Contact your congressional representative and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson. Please urge them to vote “Yes.”

Jon Stewart talks about moving on from ‘The Daily Show’

Aug. 6 will be a dark day for many. Jon Stewart, the irreverent host of The Daily Show, the satirical news program that a proportionately large audience considers more newsworthy than the actual news, will finally step down as the show’s host after 16 years.

The announcement came in February. It’s like losing a best friend for some viewers, many of whom have never lived without the 52 year-old New Yorker’s withering, bluntly caustic dissection of current affairs. A study in 2010 in revealed most young Americans got their news from The Daily Show — even more than from The New York Times and CNN.

“That was never my intention, but for a result like that, you can only be so grateful,” he says. “We obviously did something right.”

So what’s next for the figurehead of satire and inventive analysis? Perhaps a move into filmmaking? Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater, for which he left The Daily Show for 12 weeks to film in Jordan, indicates that’s a possibility.

The movie is based on a book and the experiences of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian journalist imprisoned by Iran after he was connected to reports on violence against protestors of the country’s presidential elections.

Iranian authorities presented an interview he did on the Daily Show that year as evidence that he was in communication with an American spy, and Bahari spent 118 days in prison being brutally interrogated.

With his close personal connection with Maziar, Stewart felt compelled to work with him on a film of his torturous experiences, while also presenting the terrifying period with a humorous slant.

Casual in a gray sweater and dark jacket, Stewart spoke about his impending departure, his rep as “the most trusted man on TV,” and facing his critics.

Jon, firstly, like so many others, I’m very sad to hear you leaving The Daily Show. Why are you putting us through this?

Life. Time to move on. It’s been 16 years. It’s considered normal for someone looking to move on after that time. And it really has something to do, we all, especially in television and especially now, we all have a certain shelf life. I’ve set up a framework there that would be difficult for me to mutate, in a large enough way that it would make sense to me. The changes that I’ve made there are incremental and I think or I know, I’m at a point where I don’t know how to advance this anymore. I don’t know how to maintain it till it withers. The only thing that would decrease my participation there is a feeling to evolve it properly, to not want to stay there for the wrong reasons and having nothing to do with a greener grass somewhere.

It’s been likened to Oprah’s departure from network television.

I’m in good company then. Look, it is what it is, it’s my decision that was certainly in the back of my mind for some time, and finally I made my mind up. And if the world didn’t fall apart with Oprah’s departure, I think mine will have little impact.

So is it a personal decision, based rather than a professional one?

My family is certainly a factor. They’re always the main factor in all my decisions.

It will seem so strange not to have you on screens in the run up to an election though.

People have said this to me and while incredibly complimentary, I’ve been through it many, many times. It’s the same to me. And there’s only so many ways one can skin a cat. It’s becoming a redundant process, it’s going to be the same process. Nothing was going to be wildly different.

I think what people will miss most is your balance. You were frequently referred to as “the most trusted man on TV,” and as a fake news anchor, coming across more rational and together than any of the actual news disseminators on our screens.

Our show was always incentivized in maybe a different way. So much of news media is incentivized toward extremity and conflict. Because imagine you have a channel and its 24 hours of news. But in reality, only seven minutes of news happens a day, so they have to expand that. Those kinds of apparatus are built for 9/11, for catastrophe, for earthquake. All their resources are required for this incredibly large, incredibly urgent story. So in the absence of that, they’re not going to say, “Don’t watch us, but we’ll be here when it’s necessary.” They’ll try and gin up anything to that urgency. Ebola is a very serious issue, but they will make it more serious and more urgent than it needs to be. So that you feel compelled to tune into them. And I always just wanted to make the best show I could make every day. I don’t ever look at it as a responsibility. We work hard to control the only thing we can control, which is the quality we put out.

Back when you signed on for The Daily Show 15 years ago, it seemed that you were being groomed for the other late night talk shows. What was it about The Daily Show that stood out for you?

Because when you’re doing something that many days a week and writing that much material about it, you have to be driven about the point of view or you’ll be a bit lost. And I did a talk show that wasn’t about current events and feeling less grounded. I didn’t care as much about OJ Simpson or Monica Lewinsky, I needed it to be something that I really cared about.

The Daily Show connection in Rosewater is so absurd and crazy, did you almost feel a responsibility to get this story out there?

Yes, and I’ve said to Maziar, “I’d love to do a sequel if you can get yourself arrested somewhere else, we can work on that (laughs).” That wasn’t really the impetus for it, as much as, we had run some pieces about Iran, not so much having to do with the election but rather the culture. Maziar, when we’d found out that he had been arrested, you know, obviously it was an incredible shock, and we tried to contact the families and things, what they felt was best in continuing to publicize it. But as far as you know, this project, it really came much later when Maziar and I became friends. He and I used to have breakfast in the city when he would come by and that’s where the impetus for turning the book into a movie, began to come up.

When did you first meet him?

I hate to tell you this, but when we go to a place, generally that’s actually a picture, we’re standing in front of a green screen. Iran was the first time we sent someone somewhere. George Bush had called Iran the Axis of Evil and so, at the show, that was a relatively irresistible moniker that we thought, we must go to this place. To see evil with our eyes. But we couldn’t get in. Right before the 2009 election, they liberalized their entrance visa, because so many journalists were coming in to witness the election. So we snuck in on that. Without having any intention of covering the election. And the rest of it caught us off guard. So that was, that was more something that was a happenstance rather than a surprise And Maziar, he was Iranian but he worked for Newsweek. He had a connection with someone and not actually being journalists ourselves, we had contacted people for help in setting up bits. And because he was one of the people who had worked out of London, because he was Iranian, we were just asking him to participate, and get his feet on the ground.

But didn’t you ever feel these skits were going to put him at risk?

God no, we never, honestly, it never occurred to us. We had left before the revolution began in earnest and I thought a lot about it since then, the idea was there something in that. The problem of responsibility, what we did was nothing, what Maziar did was nothing. He wasn’t a spy, our interview with him meant nothing to that. When a country weaponizes the banal or idiocy or the innocuous, you ask yourself what could we have done differently and you ask yourself, nothing. Because whatever pretense they were using was false. It’s like if you get arrested walking down the street, you say to yourself, “What could I have done to not get arrested,” and you think, “Well, I could have just not walked.” The things that were being done were in no way what they were being used for. And I can’t imagine Maziar thought it was a risk either. It was a man, Jason Jones, wearing a kafiya, in sunglasses, being filmed, in the open saying to Maziar, “I’m an American spy, and I’d like to ask you about Iran.” I think you’d be hard pressed to think in any scenario that that might get me in trouble. It’s just so stupid. So I think that was, we thought a lot about it, you know, what he really got in trouble for was witnessing atrocity. What we could have done differently was not have someone not witness atrocity and that’s not an option.

Why take this one as your directorial debut?

Maziar had written this incredible book. And he asked if I knew how to make this into a movie. And not knowing how to do that, I said, “Of course, I know how to do that” (laughs). But it was going to be helping him to produce it. So we were going to establish a decent list of writers and people that we thought might make a great script for it. But that process was so glacial and took so long, and my eventual involvement as a writer and as a director was due to my impatience. I’d never been through that. We produce things like, 9 o’clock in the morning, you have a stupid idea, by 5 o’clock it’s on television. It was more the frustration of a movie that should be made as a current event, rather than a historical artifact. And I think we both came to the conclusion that if we want this film to be done, we were going to have to do it ourselves. But what I realized during this whole process, this whole experience, is that technology has changed the very face of what it means to be a journalist and what it means to bear witness. Because these regimes, generally have apparatuses that exist to suppress information, Western regimes as well, America as well. They may not be as ham-handed about it, it may not appear so kabuki in its practice, but journalists in America would be hard pressed to say they’d never felt the pressure to suppress information in some form from government or other entities. Well now that dissemination of information has been democratized, those regimes extend their tentacles much more forcefully, but in many more directions and that apparatus has become much not only much more expensive and unwieldy, but so much more ineffective.

The Iranian government has been, expectedly, critical of your film.

I expect nothing but absurdity. … I know I did everything I could to be fair and right with the story. I know there was nothing I could have done to make them feel, “Yea that’s fair, I see where we went wrong.” I tried to just feel as good about it, the integrity about it, as I could. Whatever they say, they say.

The critics have been somewhat unkind of the film too.

I’m used to it. You don’t perform in clubs, you don’t host the Oscars a couple of times without people drawing moustaches on your face and kicking you in the nuts. That being said, I do take seriously the notion of clarity of vision and recognize that I don’t know everything, I’m only too aware of that.

You use humor to tackle such a tricky, sensitive subject, and that’s really what you’ve done when it comes to politics your entire career, why is that?

I think some of that is wiring. I think it’s just, how I cope. Repression and humor.

Was this as a child? Because I read where you endured anti-Semitic bullying as a child.

You know, I came into a type of abuse, which all children face as a child in all places. Children have a unique ad special quality where they will assess you, find your weak spot, find what it is that they will hang on to and utilize it. But in no way was it, this was not a Louis Malle movie, it was in no way more than what the Italian kids in my school faced for being Italian. Or the Irish kids. Or the dork kids or the tall kids or heavy kids. Because of how my brain is wired, I tended to deflect it as humor where kids genetically superior to me would use fisticuffs. That, I don’t want to ever portray it that I ever suffered under this oppressive, it was very middle-class kid bullshit. I’m generally someone who likes to prat fall and run.

Hagel nominated for defense secretary

President Barack Obama formally nominated former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, saying Hagel is “the leader that our troops deserve.”

Obama made the announcement in the White House East Room on Jan. 7 even as critics questioned the pick over issues including Hagel’s views on Israel and Iran and his old record on LGBT issues.

Facing a potentially tough fight to get Hagel confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Obama praised the former Nebraska senator’s independence and bipartisan approach, and said that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, understands war is not an abstraction.

The president said, “Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. He is an American patriot. He enlisted in the Army and volunteered for Vietnam. As a young private, and then a sergeant, he served with honor, alongside his own brother. When Chuck was hit by shrapnel, his brother saved him. When his brother was injured by a mine, Chuck risked his life to pull him to safety. To this day, Chuck bears the scars – and the shrapnel – from the battles he fought in our name.”

When it seemed likely he would be the nominee and needed to improve his record, Hagel, a moderate Republican, issued an apology for a 1998 objection to the nomination of James Hormel, who became the nation’s first openly gay ambassador.

Opposing the Hormel nomination made by Bill Clinton, Hagel said Hormel was “openly, aggressively gay.”

On Dec. 21, Hagel issued an apology: “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

Hagel, as a senator, also received the lowest possible scores from the Human Rights Campaign, the national’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

Responding to the nomination on Jan. 7, Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson said, “Sen. Hagel is an exceptionally qualified nominee for secretary of defense and we believe, if confirmed, he will be an effective leader for the Pentagon. Significant challenges remain for LGBT service members and their families, however, and it’s long overdue that our secretary address those challenges.”

However, Rhea Carey at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said, “We continue to express our concerns about the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense due to his poor track record on LGBT equality and reproductive rights. Cabinet choices set the tone for an administration and it is critical that those members support fairness, women’s health and the belief in a level playing field for all. Though Chuck Hagel has recently apologized for past anti-gay remarks, we expect him to fully explain his views during the confirmation process and what steps he intends to take as defense secretary to demonstrate his support for LGBT members of the military and their families. We recognize that people do evolve on these issues and we hold out hope that, if confirmed, Hagel will meet the bar set by other cabinet secretaries and the administration when it comes to ensuring fairness for all LGBT military families and for women in the military.”

Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues

One more look at where President Barack Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney stand on a selection of issues, in brief:


Obama: Supports access to abortion. Health care law requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans.

Romney: Opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the woman’s life. Previously supported abortion access. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court ruling.



Obama: Promises to cut projected deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years, a goal that will require Congress to raise the capital gains tax, boost taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, impose a minimum 30 percent tax on incomes above $1 million, and more. Failed in first-term pledge to cut deficit he inherited by half; recently completed budget year marked fourth consecutive year of trillion-dollar-plus red ink.

Romney: Promises to cut $500 billion per year from the federal budget by 2016 to bring spending below 20 percent of the U.S. economy and to balance it by 2020, but vital specifics are lacking. Favors constitutional balanced budget amendment.



Obama: Term marked by a deep recession that began in previous administration and officially ended within six months, and gradual recovery with persistently high jobless rates of above 8 percent until the last two months of the campaign. Mixed jobs report for October showed unemployment rising to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, but strong hiring as more people started looking for work. Obama responded to recession with a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan, expanded auto industry bailout begun under George W. Bush, inherited and carried forward Wall Street bailout.

Romney: Lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. 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.


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. Achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards 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. 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. Set goal of cutting oil imports by half by 2020.

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 Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Supports opening Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska. Says green power has yet to become viable and causes of climate change are unproved.



Obama: Opposes near-term military strike on Iran but holds that option open if it proves the only way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Declined to repeat the Libya air power commitment for Syrian opposition, instead seeks international pressure against Syrian government. Chastised Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in disputed areas and pressed both sides to begin a new round of peace talks based on land borders established after 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. Signed law to expand military and civilian cooperation with Israel. Sought penalties against China for unfair trade but opposes branding China a currency manipulator.

Romney: Appears to present a clearer U.S. military threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving of such a step and while saying U.S. military action against Iran would be last resort. Would identify those in Syrian opposition who share U.S. values, then work with U.S. allies to “ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat” Syrian government. But has not proposed direct U.S. arms supplies to rebels and would rule out U.S. military action for now. Associates himself more closely with hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges more military assistance to Israel. Branded Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the U.S. and threatened to label China a currency manipulator in a move that could lead to broad trade sanctions.



Obama: Supports legal recognition of same-sex marriage, a matter decided by states. Opposed that recognition in 2008 presidential campaign and in 2004 Senate campaign, while supporting the extension of legal rights and benefits to same-sex couples in civil unions. Achieved repeal of the military ban on openly gay members. Has not achieved repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and affirms the right of states to refuse to recognize such marriages. Administration has ceased defending the law in court but it remains on the books.

Romney: Opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage and says it should be banned with a constitutional amendment, not left to states. “Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state.” Also opposes civil unions “if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” but says states should be left to decide what rights and benefits should be allowed under those unions. Says certain domestic partnership benefits – largely unspecified – as well as hospital visitation rights are appropriate but “others are not.” Says he would not seek to restore the ban on openly gay military members.



Obama: Has not pushed for stricter gun laws as president. Signed laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. Favors “robust steps, within existing law” to address gun issues, White House says. Voices support for renewed ban on assault-type weapons but has not tried to get that done. Previously backed stronger gun controls.

Romney: Opposes stricter gun control laws. Suggested after a deadly Colorado movie theater shooting that he favors tougher enforcement of existing gun laws. As Massachusetts governor, vowed in 2002 to protect the state’s “tough gun laws,” and in 2004 signed a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons.



Obama: Achieved landmark overhaul putting U.S. on path to universal coverage now that Supreme Court has upheld the law’s mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance.  Under the law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small business gets help for offering insurance and Medicaid, the government program that primarily benefits the poor, will expand.

Romney: Promises to work for repeal of the law modeled largely after his universal health care achievement in Massachusetts because he says states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured. Says he would protect people with pre-existing conditions, though his plan only does so for those who maintain continuous coverage, not a major change from federal protections in effect before Obama’s health care overhaul. Would expand individual tax-advantaged medical savings accounts and let savings be used for insurance premiums as well as personal medical costs.



Obama: Issued directive in June that immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children be exempted from deportation and granted work permits if they apply. Took the temporary step after failing to deliver on promised immigration overhaul, with the defeat of legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the armed forces. Says he is still committed to it. Government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama.

Romney: Favors U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. Opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Would establish a national immigration-status verification system for employers and punish them if they hire noncitizens who do not prove their authorized status. Would end visa caps for spouses and minor children of legal immigrants. Would honor work permits for immigrants who benefit from Obama’s new policy but not accept new applicants under the program, and promises to put in place a comprehensive immigration plan before those permits expire.



Obama: Wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and ensure they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. Supports extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making under $200,000, or $250,000 for couples. But in 2010, agreed to a two-year extension of the lower rates for all. Wants to let the top two tax rates go back up 3 to 4 percentage points to 39.6 percent and 36 percent, and raise rates on capital gains and dividends for the wealthy. Health care law provides for tax on highest-value health insurance plans. Together with Congress, built a first-term record of significant tax cuts, some temporary.

Romney: Keep Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes and drop all tax rates further, by 20 percent, bringing the top rate, for example, down to 28 percent from 35 percent and the lowest rate to 8 percent instead of 10 percent. Curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest. End Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals, eliminate capital gains tax for families making below $200,000 and cut corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent. Does not specify which tax breaks or programs he would curtail to help cover costs.



Obama: Approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden, set policy that U.S. would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice that had essentially ended late in George W. Bush’s presidency. Largely carried forward Bush’s key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite promise to close the prison. Expanded use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen. The deadly attack by militants on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September raised questions that persist about the quality of U.S. intelligence and about why requests for added security there were denied before the assault.

Romney: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.



Obama: Ended the Iraq war,  increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all out by the end of 2014. Approved U.S. air power in NATO-led campaign that helped Libyan opposition topple government. Major cuts coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of agreement with congressional Republicans to cut military spending over a decade.

Romney: Proposes increase in military spending. Endorses 2014 end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan. Would increase strength of armed forces, including number of troops and warships, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016. In addition, criticized congressional Republicans for negotiating a deficit-cutting deal with the White House that will mean automatic and massive cuts in Pentagon spending next year if federal budget deal is not reached in time.

Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Matt Apuzzo, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Stephen Ohlemacher, Alan Fram, Dina Cappiello, Ken Thomas, Jim Kuhnhenn and Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.



What to watch for in tonight’s debate

The final presidential debate is tonight at 9 p.m. EST, with Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debating foreign policy at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

The moderator will be Bob Schieffer, Host of “Face the Nation” on CBS.

The debate will be divided into six segments of about 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by Schieffer. He’ll open each segment with a question, give each candidate two minutes to respond and then use the balance of the time for a discussion on the topic.

The topics, announced by Schieffer, are:

• America’s role in the world.

• Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan.

• Red Lines – Israel and Iran.

• The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I.

• The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II.

• The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World.

Five things to watch for during the debate:

1. THE TIEBREAKER: Romney ran away with the first. Obama edged him in the second. Stakes are high for their third and final showdown. Does that mean a repeat of last week’s ornery tone? Or will the gravity of the issues — war, terrorism, world leadership — inspire more dignified discourse?

2. REMATCH ON LIBYA: It sparked one of the hottest exchanges of the second debate. And there’s more to it than when Obama called the consulate attack an “act of terror.” Expect to hear about failed security, intelligence lapses and the Obama administration’s shifting account of what happened in Libya. After Obama’s parry last week, Romney gets another try.

3. ROMNEY’S TEST: The former governor and businessman has limited foreign experience. He took hits for comments that ruffled British and Palestinian leaders last summer, and for hastening to criticize the administration’s response even as chaotic events were unfolding in Libya and Egypt. This debate is the prime moment for Romney to display the knowledge and judgment to lead on the world stage.

4. ON DEFENSE: Obama must defend four years of foreign policy. Expect Romney to accuse the president of weakening America’s world leadership by mishandling Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the pullout from Afghanistan, the Syrian conflict and the U.S. relationship with Israel. Can Obama rebut that criticism and focus on ending the Iraq War and killing Osama bin Laden?

5. A NEW MEME? First Big Bird. Then “binders full of women.” Watch Twitter to see whether another phrase catches fire while the debaters are still onstage.