Presidential Election 2012 — a Mom’s Guide

Photo Credit: Zimbio
Photo Credit: Zimbio

Still unsure who you’ll vote for on November 6? Learn where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stand on issues that matter to moms.

EMPLOYMENT

President Barack Obama stands for better pay for all, and equal pay for women. In 2008, he set a goal to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.50 per hour by 2011, which he was unable to achieve. As for equal pay, the POTUS signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act in 2009, which aimed to give women more time to file wage-discrimination lawsuits. He also supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, which sought to make it easier for women to prove wage discrimination. This act has yet to clear both houses of Congress and was rejected for the second time by the Senate in June. He also hopes to create more employment opportunities by bringing jobs back to America, as opposed to shipping them overseas.

Former Governor Mitt Romney has yet to take a stance on the issue of equal pay. In most statements, he says he supports what he refers to as “pay equity” but believes there needs to be more jobs first. He hopes to create open markets and expand free trade with foreign countries, which would allow Americans to participate in more business opportunities. In addition to making changes at the civilian level, he also plans to make some adjustments at the federal level. He plans to reduce taxes, spending, regulation and government programs in hopes of improving the economy and creating more jobs.

EDUCATION

Romney thinks there needs to be better — not more — teachers in the schools in order to improve America’s academic performance. Romney wants schools to recruit the best candidates and then evaluate the teachers to make sure they continue to meet educational standards. He is also a firm proponent of standardized testing, and as governor of Massachusetts, he required high school students to pass a standardized test to graduate. That being said, he doesn’t feel education is something that can be handled at the federal level; rather, it should be handled state-to-state. His biggest proposal for public education, however, deals with disadvantaged and disabled students. If elected, Romney would allow these students to enroll in a public school outside of their district to better suit their needs. The federal government, using money that’s currently distributed through Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, would subsidize the tuition.

Obama feels schools should be rewarded for high performance. During his term, he implemented Race to the Top, an initiative that awards points to states whose schools satisfy reform criteria, such as implementing innovative performance-based standards, complying with nationwide standards, promoting charter schools, and attracting and keeping good teachers. Since Race to the Top was launched, 46 states have come up with comprehensive reform plans, 34 of which have modified their laws. Obama also acknowledges that there is not one plan that fits all schools. Because of this, he has given states the flexibility to create their own ambitious plans for reform, relieving them of restrictive No Child Left Behind mandates.

LGBT RIGHTS

Obama made history in 2012 as the first sitting president to publicly announce his support for marriage for same-sex couples. The POTUS has also been very active in helping the LGBT community achieve equal rights. In 2010, he signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The following year, he announced his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would allow married same-sex couples the same federal rights and protections as straight couples, such as Social Security benefits, hospital visitation and medical decision making.

Romney has said he supports equal employment rights for members of the LGBT community. He also does not have a desire to reverse the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. However, he believes marriage is an institution between a man and woman, and should stay that way.

HEALTH CARE

Romney has had some experience with health care reform too. During his time as governor, he passed the Massachusetts health care insurance reform law. This law required nearly every resident of Massachusetts to obtain a state-regulated minimum level of health care insurance coverage. Residents earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level were also required to receive health care insurance at no cost. Romney believes that health care should be dealt with at the state level and would want to repeal many elements of Obamacare to make this happen. However, he has also said that if he’s elected, some sort of provisions that provide coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions and that extend family policies for adult children will be included in his plan.

Obama made health care the main focus of his 2008 campaign. Two years later, he implemented the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare), which will expand coverage to over 32 million Americans by the time it’s scheduled to go into full effect in 2014. The provision of the law requiring free coverage of contraceptives, breastfeeding supplies and screenings for gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence, as well as routine checkups for breast and pelvic exams, Pap tests and prenatal care, went into effect in August. This new mandate applies to almost 47 million women in the US.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

This January, Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a woman’s right to choose on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In a statement on the issue, Obama noted that the ruling “not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that the government should not intrude on private family matters.” Around the same time, the Obama administration also announced that, with the exception of churches and other places of worship, all employers must provide full birth control coverage to female workers.

While some have said Romney is completely pro-life, he says it’s not that simple. In an August 2012 interview with CBS, the Republican nominee clarified his stance on the issue, saying he is “in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.” He has, however, pointed out that he would want to remove federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as it provides abortions for reasons he does not consider right.

Which candidate will you vote for?