Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 10 (Parochial Schools)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Nine questions have been posted so far. Here is the final question:

Question 10: Do you support federal money being allocated to religious institutions for provision of social services or to parochial schools? What restrictions, if any, would you put on these funds, whether provided by grants or vouchers? Do you support legislation to strengthen the obligation of employers to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious practice?

Response from President Obama

The separation of church and state in this country is essential and has led our democracy and religious practices to thrive. Religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have the right to worship as they choose.

With respect to education, while I have the deepest respect for the life-changing work of so many parochial schools, school vouchers have been tried and studied for decades, and we know that they do not raise student achievement. I am also concerned that vouchers can drain resources that are needed in public schools where the vast majority of students will always be. For this reason I do not support vouchers.

Still, religious institutions have an important role to play in the provision of public services. I expanded the federal government’s faith-based initiative because it is important for government to partner with faith-based organizations. I have affirmed repeatedly the important role these organizations play in delivering social services. I am working closely with my cabinet and each of the thirteen agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships and my administration has made it a top priority for community groups to be an integral part of our country’s success. Through my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, we have partnered with faith-based and non-profit organizations on many issues of critical importance: fighting hunger at home and abroad; promoting responsible fatherhood; encouraging mentoring; facilitating interfaith service; and fighting unemployment, among many other issues. All of this work is accomplished in a way that upholds the Constitution-by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

Where it does not conflict with state laws, the policies that I will put forth would allow Title I and IDEA funds to follow students to parochial schools.

Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 9 (Religious Freedom)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Eight questions have been posted so far. Question 9 follows below. The last questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Question 9: The Constitution protects religious freedom by mandating that the government shall make no law establishing religion, or abridging the free exercise thereof. How should the government protect this fundamental liberty? Is it either constitutionally permissible or socially desirable for religious institutions to seek to impel the state to implement policies that are motivated by an understanding of scriptures? Should a president’s religious beliefs play a role in presidential decision-making? Should religious institutions – or individuals, generally – be exempted from laws of general application based on religious objections? In the context of the current controversy over inclusion of contraception in mandated health insurance coverage, how would you reconcile the need to safeguard women’s rights and women’s health with the need to protect the religious liberty of religiously affiliated hospitals?

Response from President Obama

My own Christian faith is important to me, and my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods, funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church. I saw that local churches often did more good for a community than a government program ever could, so I understand and applaud the important of the work of faith-based organizations. I’ve set up the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to create and expand partnerships with faith-based and secular nonprofits on a range of issues, from hunger to housing to job training, and I’m proud that this Office has done just that.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will cover recommended preventive services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August 2012. I also know that some religious institutions have a religious objection to directly providing insurance that covers contraceptive services for their employees. That is why, from the beginning of this process, we worked with institutions like religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty and ensures that women have access to the care that they need, no matter where they work. This new law will save money for millions of Americans and ensure that Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy. Today, nearly 99 percent of all women have used contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of all women between the ages of 18-34 have struggled to afford it. Under my administration’s policy, women will have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where they work.

This policy also fully respects religious liberty. It ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage. Instead, her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The new policy ensures that women can get contraception without paying a co-pay while also holding paramount the core constitutional principle of religious liberty.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

  • Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution.
  • Too many people, it seems, misunderstand what religious liberty means. The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, and went to great lengths to make sure that we would not choose government representatives based upon their religion. As president, I would never allow authorities of my church, or of any other church, to ever exert influence on my presidential decisions. As Governor, I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution, and I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
  • The founders, however, did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation where there is a plurality of faiths, and where we not only tolerate many faiths, but respect them. After all, American values such as the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common.
  • A fundamental tenet of religious liberty is that the government should not compel any religious institution to subsidize a practice or product that violates its religious tenets. The Obama Administration, unfortunately, does not seem to understand this. Women, of course, have the right to contraception. Government does not, however, have the right to force people-who have religious objections to contraception-to pay for it. We have ample means of affording health care to poorer women, including Medicaid and private charities that do not have religious objections to contraception. There is no need to violate individuals’ religious liberties to provide for these women.

Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 8 (Immigration)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Seven questions have been posted so far. Question 8 follows below. The remaining questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted daily over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Question 7: How would you address the presence of roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States? What changes would you support to U.S. immigration policy on the whole? What safeguards would you take to ensure that those fleeing persecution will continue to be granted safe haven within our nation’s borders? What border security and enforcement measures do you support?

Response from President Obama

Our immigration system has been broken for too long. I believe that comprehensive reform that strengthens our economy and reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. I support legislation-that until recently had bipartisan support-that would invest in border security, hold employers accountable, demand responsibility from undocumented immigrants in return for a path to legal status, and reform the legal immigration system to attract the best and brightest and keep families together. And until Congress acts, my administration is taking important steps to secure our borders and make our immigration laws more fair, efficient, and just. Today, by many measures, the Southwest border is more secure than at any time in the past 20 years. Illegal border crossing are at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its 87-year history. For the first time, immigration authorities are prioritizing the deportation of criminals, rather than children who came here through no fault of their own and are pursuing an education.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

  • America is a nation of immigrants. Welcoming newcomers who share our ideals and work hard to secure a better life for themselves and their families is part of our heritage. A strong legal immigration system is an integral component of what makes America exceptional. But today, our immigration system is broken. As president, I will propose a national immigration strategy that grows the U.S. economy, secures our borders and discourages illegal immigration, addresses the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants living in America in a civil and resolute manner, and carries on America’s tradition as a nation of legal immigrants.
  • Our immigration system is not optimized for today’s economy. The United States is currently excluding too many workers who will start businesses, create jobs, foster innovation, and help grow our economy. For example, the United States is projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018. At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year’s quota has been filled in an hour. As president, I will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants, including country caps that are keeping some of the best and brightest out of America. Additionally, every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency.
  • The current system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers is dysfunctional. Employers complain that too often, the harvest passes or tourist season ends before temporary workers are approved. I will eliminate unnecessary requirements and red tape that delay issuance of visas for temporary, seasonal workers. Additionally, I will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas. Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
  • America must take steps to secure our borders and discourage illegal immigration. As president, I will ensure that we have a high-tech fence along our southwest border, I will place enough officers on the ground to secure our border, and I will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas. To discourage illegal immigration, my Administration will create an effective, mandatory employment verification system. If illegal immigrants know they cannot find jobs, fewer will cross the border and many that are here illegally will leave.
  • I will ensure that our asylum laws are administered fairly and effectively, so America can continue to serve as a haven for those facing persecution.
  • An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the shadows in America. I will address this problem in a civil and resolute manner. My Administration will create a system whereby illegal immigrants in America can register, so we know who they are. Those who register will receive a transition period to wind down their affairs in the U.S., and they can get into line to enter the U.S. legally, like the people who have been waiting patiently to immigrate legally. Also, those young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.

A Tale of Two Trips

— by Elizabeth Leibowitz

Perhaps the most interesting moment in Monday’s presidential debate was one of President Obama’s best lines of the night:

…when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.” He continued, saying, “I went down to the border towns of Sderot … I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of … what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

Now, let me begin by saying that I know Romney visited Yad Vashem in 2007 and traveled to Sderot in 2011. But when the details of the two men’s trips to Israel as presidential candidates are contrasted and evaluated for who was more “presidential,” only one individual fits the bill.

President Obama visited Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and – unlike Governor Mitt Romney – with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He traveled to Sderot, where he talked with families who faced the daily fear of Palestinian rocket fire. He visited Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath on a tomb that contains ashes from Nazi extermination camps. Obama’s trip to Israel greatly affected his actions once in office, prompting him to provide record aid to Israel, restore the country’s Qualitative Military Edge, fund the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more.

Governor Romney had quite a different trip as a candidate. He did meet with Peres, Netanyahu, and various other Israeli leaders — though he opted to cancel his meeting with the Labor Party’s Shelly Yachimovich. He chose to only meet with Fayyad, selecting to return to Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha B’Av to focus on his speech as well as his $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. Standing in front of his supporters, Romney spoke broadly about his stances on the Middle East, all the while dishing out subtle jabs at the President and breaking the “politics stop at the water’s edge” protocol. The next day, he managed to stretch U.S.-Palestinian relations even further when he chalked up the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies to “culture.” During Romney’s August 2012 trip as a candidate, there was no trip to Sderot, no visit to Yad Vashem, and no conversations with average Israelis about their hopes for the future. Instead, his trip to Israel served a political purpose.

There is only one candidate in the 2012 race whose trip to Israel was presidential and whose actions afterward were presidential-President Barack Obama.

Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 7 (Energy)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Six questions have been posted so far. Question 7 follows below. The remaining questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted daily over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Question 7: As some of the world’s largest oil exporters display hostility to American interests, as oil prices rise, and as many scientists continue to warn about climate change, the need for a solution to our nation’s energy crisis becomes more pressing by the day. How would you address our dependence on foreign oil? What are viable, long-term solutions? What role should alternative energy and efficiency solutions play in this plan? What about exploration and development of domestic sources of energy, and importation of those resources from friendly neighbors?

Response from President Obama

While there are no silver bullets to the problem of high oil and gas prices, my administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, helping families save at the pump and creating an economy that’s built to last by out-innovating our competitors around the world. We can’t just drill our way to lower energy prices and we won’t solve this problem overnight. That’s why I’m focused on an all-of-the-above energy strategy to developing all of America’s natural resources – including domestic oil, gas, wind, solar, clean coal, and biofuels – and encouraging efficiency so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil over time.

In my convention speech, I laid out a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs and more opportunities for middle-class Americans, while rebuilding the economy on a stronger foundation. Two of the energy goals that I announced were to cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. Oil and gas development has increased every year of my administration and our dependence on foreign oil is now at a 20-year low. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. We are speeding up the leasing process and improving safety measures to prevent future spills. A revolution in natural gas production helped us become the world’s leading producer of natural gas in 2009. I will continue to take every possible action to safely develop this abundant source of American energy: streamlining the oversight of natural gas permitting, improving access to natural gas fuels along heavily trafficked trucking routes, helping convert municipal bus and truck fleets to run on natural gas, and creating a new tax incentive for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas or other alternative fuels.

My administration has also made record gains in clean energy development. I have also proposed an ambitious clean energy standard for America to generate 80 percent of our electricity from a diverse set of clean energy sources by 2035 and we are making concrete progress.

We have tripled the government’s investment in clean energy sectors such as the smart power grid, energy efficiency, and renewable power, which has supported 224,500 jobs and spurred development across the country. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That will help to save families more than $8,000 per vehicle at the pump and decrease our oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy like wind and solar, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. We are spurring the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electricity system. And we are supporting public-private partnerships to make homes, appliances and everyday technologies more energy efficient and less expensive to use. We are boosting our use of cleaner fuels, including increasing the level of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline and implementing a new Renewable Fuel Standard that will save nearly 14 billion gallons of oil-based gasoline in 2022.

I believe in an all-out, all-of-the-above approach to expanding domestic energy production. It takes all of our domestic resources to increase our energy security. Now voters have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. Unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. We’re investing in a clean energy future that keep good paying jobs here at home and puts this country on a path to energy independence.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

  • The United States is blessed with an abundance of energy resources. Developing them has been a pathway to prosperity for the nation in the past and offers similar promise for the future. As president, I will make every effort to promote policies that will make America an energy superpower.
  • We rightly think about energy as a national-security issue, and I believe that the imperatives of national security and economic policy work in tandem. If instead of sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, we reinvest them right here at home, the nation as a whole will experience the economic benefits that we currently see other countries enjoying at our expense. Lessening our dangerous dependence on unstable OPEC oil supplies by both increasing domestic production and accessing more energy from our North American neighbors would strengthen our national security and the economy in many other ways. At a time of record budget deficits, greater domestic supplies would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues, improve America’s trade balance and GDP and strengthen the dollar.
  • We need to take a rational and streamlined approach to regulation, to facilitate the rapid development of our domestic oil, natural gas and coal resources, and encourage investment in nuclear and alternative energies. This will require a 21st century regulatory framework – one that balances both our energy and environmental objectives, using the most innovative, cost-effective solutions available. I will propose measured reforms of the statutory framework to preserve our environmental gains without paralyzing industry and destroying jobs. I will ensure that the cost of new regulation is always considered and establish reasonable timelines for compliance.
  • Our ability to develop new technologies has always kept America in the lead and there is a government role to play in innovation in the energy industry. History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology, but we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches. From the perspective of creating new jobs and strengthening our economy, the main line of policy should be directed toward technologies that will improve our nation’s energy self-sufficiency.
  • The world needs energy, and the United States is in a position to produce it more cleanly and safely than any other nation. Getting our energy policy right is critical to our country’s economic future. We have the natural resources to succeed, and more importantly, we have scientific and engineering talent that is unsurpassed the world over. What we’ve lacked is a clear recognition that tying up our resources and shackling our enterprises is costing us dearly in every important arena. The bad news is that self-defeating policies have left us less secure as a country and weakened our economy. The good news is: we can change. I intend to lead the way.

Obama Holds Big Lead In Campaign Offices

The Daily Beast has a nice interactive graphic which shows all the local campaign offices of the Obama and Romney campaigns. “the Obama has 755 offices nationwide for its get-out-the-vote effort — nearly three times as many as the Romney campaign.” Obama has campaign offices in all fifty states while Romney limited himself to sixteen states. Obama has more offices in each state except Utah where Romney has four offices (Logan, Midvale, Orem, St. George) to Obama’s one (Salt Lake City). Utah is home to the Church of Latter Day Saints so Romney commands a 71.8% to 20.3% lead in the polls there and has plenty of Mormon supporters to run national phone banks out of those offices.

More after the jump.
Notice how many campaign offices are in Ohio and to some extent Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia, but how few are in Indiana, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.

Romney Wrong on Women, Seniors, and Israel

Even more than after the first presidential debate, Tuesday’s town hall in New York crystallized the differences between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney for Jewish voters.  And although Republicans strategists have been working overtime to court the American Jewish community, it is increasingly obvious that Romney’s agenda conflicts with core Jewish values.

Perhaps the most striking revelation from Tuesday’s debate involves Romney’s policies toward women.  American Jews hold overwhelmingly progressive values on gender equality, so this issue is an important bellwether for understanding whether Romney can win the community’s support.

When asked by a young woman how he would rectify discrepancies between men and women in the workplace, pointing out how women routinely make less than men for doing the same work, Romney fumbled.  Not only did his rambling response never address the question, his comments betrayed a basic insensitivity.

The closest thing he could offer to a coherent policy involved boasts that he once let a female employee have a flexible work schedule and that his administration in Massachusetts was given “binders full of women” from outside groups when they could not find enough notable female Republicans to serve in his cabinet.

More after the jump.
Clearly, he has never given serious thought to helping women in the work force, and his team’s position on a woman’s right to choose is also quite chilling.  Although Romney pretended to be moderate on abortion during the debate, he has promised to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and his vice presidential candidate said just last week that “the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”  Their party’s platform denies women even that right.

Jewish voters overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to choose, and they oppose Republican efforts throughout the nation to roll back this long-established principle.  It will take far more than cheap talk if Romney wants to convince U.S. Jews that he will fight for women’s rights in the way that President Obama has already demonstrated.

Indeed, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law as his first bill upon coming to office, which gives women greater legal recourse for ensuring that they receive equal pay for equal work.  He has also appointed two Supreme Court justices, both of them women, who oppose right-wing efforts to repeal Roe v. Wade.

Differences between the two candidates also came into clearer focus on senior citizen’s issues.  The Jewish people are particularly attuned to honoring our forefathers and foremothers.  Therefore, we tend to perceive Social Security as a covenant – a promise that if you put in a lifetime of hard work and pay your taxes, you should be able to retire without fear of not being able to put food on the table.

We also see Medicare as part of this covenant, and believe that gutting it in the manner that Paul Ryan has proposed is just plain wrong.  That is why Jewish voters have reacted so negatively to Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate.

In Tuesday’s debate, President Obama did not shy away from drawing firm contrasts with his Republican opponent.  When asked by an audience member how a Romney administration would compare to George W. Bush, President Obama pointed out that even “George Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher.”  He also noted that when Romney trashed 47% of Americans as moochers, he was lumping in “folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives.”

There is a reason why Jewish voters in Florida specifically prefer Democrats over Republicans on Social Security by about three to one.  They just don’t trust the GOP.

Since he cannot win over Jewish voters on domestic issues, Governor Romney has wrongfully resorted to smearing the president on foreign policy.  Romney was so desperate to bash the President’s strong record on Israel that he brought the issue up instead of using his full time to answer a very serious question on Libya.  His comments were little more than a blatant attempt to make political points instead of offering serious solutions to genuine global challenges.

Despite Romney’s false claims about the President’s Israel record, President Obama has relentlessly strengthened Israel’s defenses against terrorist attacks.  He has boosted Israel’s military aid higher than ever before, and Israel’s prime minister and defense minister have each called his support “unprecedented.”

In fact, in the fight against Iran’s nuclear program, the President has done something  that Mitt Romney somehow tries to claim as his own policy idea.  Instead of simply saber-rattling and resorting to name-calling, the President has diligently built an unprecedented global sanctions coalition that is devastating the Iranian economy.  Iran’s currency has crashed by nearly 40% just in the last month, and this is largely because President Obama was able to convince Europe to copy our sanctions regime.  I believe that most Jews understand that now is not the time to change horses, either on helping Israel or stopping Iran – especially when the Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military has made it abundantly clear that military force is a very real option for stopping Iran if diplomacy does not achieve a breakthrough.

When Jewish voters go to the polls next month, they will confront stark choices: empty rhetoric or proven leadership on the Middle East; a progressive social agenda that benefits all Americans or a war on women’s rights and abandoning our seniors.  I think I know which choice Jewish voters will prefer.

Originally published in The Times of Israel.

Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 6 (Terrorism)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Five questions have been posted so far. Question 6 follows below. The remaining questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted daily over the next week. Stay tuned.

Question 6: Considering the successes and failures in the years since 9/11, how would you change U.S. policy to effectively combat the threat of global and domestic terrorism? Specifically, how would you respond to the threat of Islamist extremism without violating civil liberties and without alienating moderate Muslims in the U.S. and across the globe?

Response from President Obama

My highest priority as Commander-in-Chief is to protect the American people from the threats we face. That’s why, upon taking office, I re-focused our efforts on taking the fight to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to decimating the group that attacked us on 9/11. America is safer today because Osama bin Laden and more than two-thirds of the top leaders of core al-Qaeda have been taken off the battlefield. But we will remain vigilant, because we know the threat of terrorism has not been erased completely.

At the same time we aggressively pursue those who wish to do us harm, I have made it clear that the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. We reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And al-Qaeda has killed people of many faiths – but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Going forward, we know that our best offense will not involve deploying large ground forces abroad but delivering targeted pressure to those who threaten our security.

But military power alone won’t solve the problem of violent extremism. America’s national security is also strengthened when we address the political, economic, and social conditions that can be exploited by terrorist groups. America will continue to support the structural conditions that reduce terrorist recruitment and promote peace, opportunity, and respect for universal rights throughout the world.

Finally, I reject the false distinction between liberty and security. I am committed to upholding the rule of law here at home, including defending the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people. And that’s why, in my first week in office, I banned torture and closed CIA secret prisons overseas. I firmly believe that we don’t have to choose between living our values and protecting our nation.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

  • As president, I will ensure all relevant military, intelligence, and homeland security agencies have the appropriate legal authority and policy guidance they need to dismantle terrorist groups and prevent terrorist attacks at home and abroad.
  • To combat domestic terrorism, we will design better frameworks to share intelligence “horizontally” across agencies, as well as “vertically” with state and local authorities. We will also continue to deploy “fusion centers” and other innovative systems to collect and systematically analyze information about domestic activities and communications among terrorist networks and people within our borders. We must also bolster partnerships with Muslim-American communities, build trust in the spirit of “community policing,” work with community leaders to identify threats and suspicious activity, develop our database of knowledge about the hallmarks of radicalization and recruitment, and train local and state authorities to understand those hallmarks and act on them at the earliest appropriate moment.
  • I would work to bolster cyber security with a unified strategy and improved inter-agency coordination.
  • I will work with Congress to unify the over 108 authorizing committees and subcommittees in Congress that oversee the Department of Homeland Security. Reducing the number of authorizing committees responsible for the Department will allow its professionals to spend time focused on operational tasks instead of reporting and testifying to Congress, as well as clarify its mission by eliminating inconsistent mandates and priorities.
  • To protect our civil liberties, I will require our counterterrorism strategy to contain measures to balance the increased capabilities of our analytic technologies against legitimate concerns about the preservation of our constitutional rights.

The Six “Studies” Which Support Romney’s Tax Plan

Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace take down the Romney/Ryan six “studies” myth.

The Washington Post Wonkblog reports:

Mitt Romney says that “six studies” prove that his tax plan adds up. They don’t.

Some of them reveal how Romney’s tax plan could conceivably achieve what he’s promised, under certain conditions — or at least come closer to it.
But others contradict the stated objectives of Romney’s tax plan and make questionable assertions about how he’d pay for his rate cuts, leaving some central questions about Romney’s tax plan unanswered and fueling the ongoing calls for more specifics.

Not all of the “six studies” are formal quantitative research: Three are online articles and one is an op-ed. But all try to answer the essential conundrum that the Tax Policy Center described in its original analysis: Romney wants to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts by getting rid of tax deductions and exclusions that benefit Americans earning more than $200,000.

But getting rid of those upper-income tax breaks doesn’t fully pay for the rate cuts, the Tax Policy Center says: The only way to do this without increasing the deficit would be to raise taxes on lower-income Americans by an average of $2,000 to make up for a $86 billion annual shortfall – a finding that the Obama campaign now routinely cites in its attack ads.

Two of the “studies” the Romney campaign has cited are an op-ed and a blog post by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein. He says it’s possible to finance Romney’s tax cuts fully by closing loopholes and deductions, but only if you raise taxes on those households with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000.

And here is what Steven Colbert had to say about the Romney/Ryan mathemagical budget…

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Projected change in tax burden under Romney plan according to Brookings Institution’s Adam Looney: