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Obama unveils economic plan: 5 ways it differs from Romney's (+video)

The little blue 'new economic patriotism' booklet is President Obama's answer to Mitt Romney's 5-point plan – and to voters who want to know what he would do with a second term.

By Staff writer / October 24, 2012

President Obama holds up a copy of job plan during a joint campaign appearance with Vice President Joe Biden, not seen, on Tuesday at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Al Behrman/AP

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President Obama is campaigning with a new weapon in his hand – a little blue booklet that amounts his answer to Mitt Romney's "five point plan."

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To critics on the conservative side, the new Obama blueprint for a second term contains little that would count as a big idea or a new idea. Rather, they say it's a symbol that Mr. Obama is waking up, belatedly, to the notion that voters want something from a candidate other than criticism of one's opponent.

It's true that Obama's "new economic patriotism" document, subtitled "A plan for jobs & middle class security," doesn't contain many new proposals. What it may accomplish is simply to offer a rebuttal to Mr. Romney's message that he has a plan and Obama doesn't.

Obama's aim may be to persuade undecided voters of two things. First is that he has some sensible ideas for a second term, including joining Romney in a few. (Obama partially embraces increasing domestic oil and gas production.) The second is that his Republican rival has plans that could prove risky for the economy and the middle class. ("I will never turn Medicare into a voucher," Obama says prominently in the document.)

Both candidates are distilling their agendas into bullet points designed to appeal to the relatively small pool of independent voters who remain up for grabs.
In many ways, the contrast between the two can be summed up in familiar terms: The Republican calls for smaller government, while the Democrat defends a larger or more activist federal role.

Here's a look at a report that amounts to Obama's answer, point by point, to Romney's five-point plan. 

Manufacturing

Obama says he wants to see the US create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016. The lead item on his agenda here is corporate tax reform (cutting rates, while offsetting that revenue loss by closing loopholes in the current tax code). The president calls for a new tax credit "for companies that bring jobs home."

He also urges training 2 million workers through new partnerships between community colleges and employers, and creating a network of business-university "manufacturing innovation institutes" to keep US industries on the cutting edge.

In all, his goal of 1 million new jobs sounds like a slight boost from the recent pace of job creation. (Obama's booklet notes that half a million manufacturing jobs have been added in the past 2-1/2 years.)

Manufacturing isn't a category in Romney's five-point plan, but his plan also seeks to boost this important sector of the economy. Romney has his own version of corporate tax reform, which he says would lure employers (US and foreign) to set up more production in America.

"Trade that works for America," is one of Romney's agenda items. Like Obama, he says he'd seek to curtail "unfair trade practices" by China and other nations. Where Obama has an enforcement effort under way, Romney implies he'd go further in getting tough on China – naming that country a currency "manipulator" on Day 1 of his administration.

Where Obama emphasizes willingness for government to make strategic investments, Romney says that investing in companies is "the wrong way to go." He supports basic science research, but isn't backing Obama-style innovation institutes. He calls for streamlining some 47 US job-training programs, while focusing them "on building valuable skills that align [job seekers] with opportunities."

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