On The Issues
Obama and Romney on abortion, Iran, Israel and more.
NEW YORK (JTA)
TA reviews the positions of
presidential candidates Barack
Obama, the Democratic incum-
bent, and Republican challenger Mitt
Romney on some issues of importance to
the Jewish community.
Obama says he is "committed to protecting
a woman's right to choose" and has sug-
gested that the Supreme Court decision
affirming abortion rights — Roe v. Wade
— is "probably hanging in the balance"
this election. Obama has opposed efforts
to de-fund Planned Parenthood, citing its
work as a provider of women's health care
The Republican nominee vows to be "a pro-
life president" and has repudiated his previ-
ous backing for abortion rights, though he
supports allowing abortion in instances of
rape, incest and danger to the health or life
of the mother. He wants the Supreme Court
to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus allowing
states to set their own abortion laws.
Romney has said that there is "no leg-
islation with regards to abortion that I'm
familiar with that would become part of
my agenda." He has said that he would
support a constitutional amendment that
defines life as beginning at conception.
He advocates ending federal funding of
Planned Parenthood, citing its role as an
The president says that the 2010 Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act —
often referred to as "Obamacare" — is a
historic advance. The law aims to make
coverage universal by offering federal sub-
sidies for many insurance buyers, expand-
ing Medicaid eligibility for low-income
November 1 • 2012
President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney differ on several issues of importance
to the Jewish community. (Graphics by Uri Fintzy)
families, setting up health insurance
exchanges to offer choices and mandating
that everyone has insurance or be subject
to a penalty. It bans discrimination on the
basis of preexisting conditions and prohib-
its lifetime caps on coverage.
On Medicare, the president touts the
health reform law's provisions that he
says help close the "doughnut hole" in the
program's prescription drug benefit and
achieve an estimated $716 billion in future
Medicare cost savings.
He opposes what he characterizes as
Romney's plan to turn Medicare into a
"voucher" program, arguing that it would
be costly for seniors. The Obama cam-
paign says that the Republican nominee's
proposed cap on federal Medicaid spend-
ing growth amounts to a dramatic cutting
of the budget for the federal-state program
that provides health coverage to the needy.
Obama touts the health care reform
law's requirement that insurers cover con-
The Republican nominee promises to
work immediately to repeal the health
care reform law. He says that individual
states should have the ability to craft their
own approaches to health care. He says he
wants to promote greater competition in
the health care system and give consumers
Romney proposes transforming
Medicare into what he calls a "premium
support system." Under the system, seniors
would receive a defined contribution
amount from the government that could
be applied toward an array of private
insurance options that Romney says would
have to be comparable to what Medicare
offers, as well as a traditional government-
provided Medicare option that would
compete with the private plans. If a plan's
premium exceeds the government's con-
tribution, seniors who choose such a plan
would pay the difference. He promises
Medicare would remain unchanged for
current beneficiaries and those now near-
ing retirement age.
He accuses the president of cutting $716
billion from Medicare in order to pay for
the other provisions of the health reform
Romney has called for transforming
Medicaid into a program in which the
federal government gives block grants to
the states and allows them greater flex-
ibility to define eligibility and benefits.
He would place a strict cap on the annual
rate of increase in the federal government's
contribution to Medicaid, limiting it to 1
percent above inflation.
The president has said that it is "unaccept-
able" for Iran to have a nuclear weapon
and the United States is "going to take all
options necessary to make sure they don't
have a nuclear weapon:' He has ruled
out the possibility of simply containing a
Obama says his administration has
"organized the strongest coalition and the
strongest sanctions against Iran in history,"
noting the damage that has been done to
the Iranian economy.
He said that in any negotiated deal,
the Iranians would have to "convince the
international community they are not pur-
suing a nuclear program," and that there
should be "very intrusive inspections"
Obama said Iran would not be allowed to
perpetually engage in negotiations that
He accuses Romney of having "often
talked as if we should take premature mili-
The Republican nominee calls a nuclear
Iran "the greatest threat the world faces,
the greatest national security threat." He
says that Iran must be prevented from get-
ting "a nuclear weapons capability:'
Romney says he supports the further
tightening of sanctions against Iran and
accuses the Obama administration of not
moving aggressively enough on this front.
Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep.
Paul Ryan, says the Obama administration
has failed to convey to the Iranians that
there is a credible threat of U.S. military
action. Romney later said "military action
is the last resort. It is something one would
only, only consider if all of the other ave-
nues had been — had been tried to their
Romney said that Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be indict-
ed for incitement to genocide over his ver-
bal attacks on Israel's existence.
Decision 2012 on page 44