Election 101: Where the GOP candidates stand on taxes, jobs, and other economic issues

With more than 13 million Americans out of work and wage increases so modest they’re failing to keep up with inflation, voters have put the economy and jobs at the top of their checklist of presidential issues.

The Republican candidates all share the same broad approach: Spur private-sector confidence and job creation through permanent tax cuts, reduced federal deficits, and lighter regulatory burdens on businesses. In the same vein, they generally call for efforts to boost trade, encourage domestic oil and gas production, and limit the power of organized labor.

But who has the best economic plan?

1. Mitt Romney

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laughs as he signs autographs after speaking at a rally outside of Geno's Chowder & Sandwich Shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Tuesday.


Would extend Bush income tax rates; reduce deductions and lower tax rates over time; exempt capital gains and dividends for households with incomes below $200,000, those “most hurt by the Obama economy.” Repeal estate tax; lower business rate to 25 percent; shift to “territorial” approach. (For Romney and other candidates, the summary here draws on an analysis of candidate plans by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.)

Deficits and budget

Immediately cut nonsecurity discretionary spending by 5 percent. Pursue a balanced budget amendment.

Jobs and growth

Touts his private-sector business experience. Name China a currency manipulator and pursue its trade violations. Replace Ben Bernanke, but says Fed has a needed role. Freeze regulatory costs. Reverse pro-union Obama policies. Promote domestic energy.

Social Security and safety net

Keep Social Security sound. Reforms shouldn’t include tax hikes, but could raise eligibility age or change indexing of benefits to inflation for high-income retirees.

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