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Cheat sheet: Tonight’s debate

Tonight’s debate will crystalize the clear choice we face in this election. While President Obama will lay out his specific plan to grow the economy and restore middle-class security, Mitt Romney will no doubt double down on his well-established strategy of attacking the president, distorting his own record, and avoiding any and all details of his plans for this country.

Here are the three most important areas that highlight the stark difference between the two candidates:

  1. The deficit

    • Mitt Romney will no doubt claim that he’ll cut the deficit, but his math just doesn’t add up. In fact, independent analysts say that in order to give his promised $5 trillion tax cut favoring millionaires and billionaires, Romney would have to either raise middle class taxes—by an average of 2,000 on the typical middle-class family with kids—or explode the deficit. At the same time, he plans to set aside $2 trillion in new defense spending that the Pentagon didn’t even ask for. Romney claims he can make up the gap by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions, but he won’t say which ones because he knows the numbers don’t add up—as President Bill Clinton said, “It’s arithmetic.”

    • President Obama inherited a record deficit ballooned by two costly wars, two tax cuts that weren’t paid for, and a historic economic collapse. He made the hard decisions necessary to rescue the country from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and has since cut spending by a trillion dollars. The President has put forward a specific, balanced plan of spending cuts and revenue increases that reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade. His plan cuts annual domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of our economy since President Eisenhower by reining in defense spending based on the advice of our military leaders, reforming Medicare by reducing the cost of health care, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay higher taxes on income over $250,000, and closing corporate loopholes and wasteful tax subsidies to big oil companies.

  2. Jobs

    • Romney says he’d create 12 million jobs as president. What he won’t tell you is that independent economists project that we’re already on track to create that many jobs on our current path. But Romney wants to go back to the same trickle-down policies that got us in trouble in the first place, and independent analysts say Romney’s plan could actually cost nearly 2 million American jobs over two years. Romney would protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and encourage outsourcing by eliminating taxes on companies’ foreign profits. One study found that Romney’s plan would actually create 800,000 jobs in other countries. And Romney would slash funding for education and job skills training even as he gives new deep tax breaks to the wealthy.

    • When President Obama took office, the American economy was in free-fall, losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now, we’ve had 30 straight months of economic growth and businesses have created nearly 5.1 million new jobs since President Obama took office. Thanks to President Obama’s decision to save the auto industry, manufacturing jobs are on the rise—don’t count on Mitt Romney to mention that he said we should have “let Detroit go bankrupt.” Unlike Romney, the President will outline his specific, concrete plan to boost employment immediately by investing in education and renewable energy. Indeed, independent economists estimate that President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act would create 1 million new jobs next year without adding a dime to the deficit.

  3. Taxes

    • Romney won’t give specifics on his tax plan because it’s “mathematically impossible.” Fortunately, independent tax experts have filled in the blanks, and even when making the most generous assumptions, they can’t make his plan add up. That’s because it’s impossible to give a $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthiest without increasing the deficit or raising middle class taxes by eliminating deductions families rely on, like the home mortgage interest deduction. And don’t expect Romney to be any more honest about his record in Massachusetts: The facts show that while Romney passed tax cuts that favored Massachusetts’ wealthiest citizens and its biggest corporations, he raised or created more than 1,000 taxes and fees—on everything from milk to driver’s licenses—that hit the Bay State’s middle class and small businesses.

    • President Obama, on the other hand, said he wouldn’t raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000, and he hasn’t. In fact, the typical middle-class family has seen a $3,600 tax cut over the last four years, and the President has cut small business taxes 18 times. President Obama will make sure millionaires aren’t paying lower tax rates than middle-class families, but instead paying the same rate as under President Clinton. And unlike Romney, President Obama will eliminate tax breaks for companies that send jobs and profits overseas so that good jobs are created right here in the U.S.