The 2012 US presidential election will turn largely on which candidate can provide a convincing plan for revitalising an American economy still wounded by the financial crisis, a bleak housing market and high unemployment.
Following are the economic policy prescriptions laid out by the leading Republican candidates on their campaign websites:
Taxes: Cut corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and replace worldwide taxation with a territorial system. For individuals earning less than $200,000 on an adjusted basis, eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. End taxes on deceased estates, which the Republicans call the “death tax.” In the longer term, overhaul the tax system to broaden the tax base and create lower, flatter rates.
Budget: Cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP and adopt a balanced budget amendment. Cut discretionary spending by 5 percent. Reform entitlement programs.
Monetary Policy: No specific plan but Romney has said he would replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Trade: Sanction China for unfair trade practices; declare China a currency manipulator and assess duties on its imports unless China moves quickly to float its currency. Complete the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Financial regulation: Repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with streamlined modern regulatory framework. Amend Sarbanes-Oxley to relieve regulatory burden on mid-sized companies.
Health care: Repeal President Barack Obama's program and return power to the states; provide grants to states for Medicaid, the program for the poor, and for the uninsured; provide an individual tax break to encourage purchase of insurance and expand health savings accounts.
Energy: Boost domestic energy production; process oil drilling permits quickly for companies with established safety records using pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas; conduct survey of US energy resources and initiate leasing in all areas approved for exploration; build an oil pipeline from Canada; support oil shale development.
Jobs/Labor: Reduce regulations; increase the number of immigration visas for highly skilled workers; focus on visas for those with math, science and engineering skills; reform retraining programs.
Economic advisers: Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard CEO; former Bush administration officials Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard; former congressmen Vin Weber and Jim Talent.
Taxes: Lower corporate tax rate to 12.5 percent and allow 100 percent expensing of new equipment. For individuals, move toward an optional flat tax system of 15 percent that preserves deductions on home mortgage and charitable donations; provide a $12,000 personal deduction to exempt those below the poverty line from taxation; abolish “death tax” and capital gains tax; make the Bush tax cuts permanent rather than let them expire in 2013.
Budget: Balance the budget by growing the economy and controlling spending; reform entitlement programs by giving individuals the option to invest their Social Security retirement savings in personal accounts; give seniors the option to buy private health insurance.
Monetary policy: To strengthen the dollar, return to the Reagan-era policy that focused on stopping runway inflation; reform the Federal Reserve to improve transparency.
Healthcare: Repeal Obama's program; remove bureaucrats from decision-making on healthcare and allow doctors and patients to make choices.
Financial regulation: Repeal the Dodd-Frank and the Sarbanes-Oxley laws.
Energy: End the ban on oil shale development in western states; give coastal states federal royalty revenue to encourage offshore drilling; finance clean energy research with new energy royalties; replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an Environmental Solutions Agency that works cooperatively with industry and local government.
Jobs/Labor: Reduce regulations; break up federal housing agencies.
Economic Adviser: Peter Ferrara, a lawyer and policy analyst who worked in the Office of Policy Development in the Reagan White House.
Taxes: Abolish personal income tax and estate taxes through a consistitional amendment; end taxation of capital gains; repeal a 1993 increase in taxes on Social Security while moving toward abolishing all income taxes.
Budget: Veto any budget that is not balanced; refuse to raise the debt ceiling; drastically limit the size of government to focus on programs that protect liberty.
Monetary policy: Require comprehensive audits of the Federal Reserve. Legalise sound money as an alternative to the Fed's “inflated paper money.” Ultimately, end the Federal Reserve System.
Trade: No policy listed.
Financial regulation: No policy listed but Paul is against government regulation in general.
Healthcare: Repeal Obama's healthcare law; provide tax credits for health costs; extend healthcare savings accounts; reduce malpractice litigation costs; exempt from payroll taxes anyone with a terminal illness and provide a payroll tax deduction for those caring for the terminally ill.
Energy: Repeal the federal gas tax; remove restrictions on offshore drilling; lift government road blocks to use of coal and nuclear power; offer tax credits for purchase and production of alternative fuel technologies; abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jobs/Labor: Repeal laws that allow unions to collect dues from all workers in unionised shops.
Taxes: For corporations, abolish taxes for manufacturers; cut corporate tax rate to 17.5 percent from 35 percent; increase the tax credit for research and development to 20 percent from 14 percent; allow 100 percent expensing for business equipment; eliminate taxes on repatriated corporate income. For individuals, simplify the tax code and reduce rates to two bands of 10 percent and 28 percent; end the estate tax; reduce tax on capital gains and dividends to 12 percent; triple the personal deduction rate for each child; retain deductions for home mortgage, charitable donations, retirement savings and healthcare.
Budget: Cut $5 trillion from federal spending within five years; reduce discretionary spending except defense to 2008 levels; freeze federal pay for four years; freeze spending on social programs for five years; give grants to states for programs such as welfare; raise the retirement age for younger workers; phase out the federal housing agencies; adopt a balanced budget amendment.
Monetary Policy: Give the Federal Reserve a single mandate of controlling inflation; audit the Fed.
Trade: Negotiate five free trade agreements and submit to Congress within first year of his presidency.
Financial Regulation: Eliminate funding for Dodd-Frank.
Healthcare: Repeal Obama's healthcare plan; strengthen health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance plans; reduce costs through competition; provide a tax credit for purchasing health insurance; provide grants to states for Medicaid and the elderly program Medicare; focus on allowing states to provide healthcare solutions.
Energy: Eliminate all subsidies; approve the Keystone pipeline from Canada.
Jobs/Labor: Streamline immigration process to attract highly skilled talent; give states responsibility for job training. - Reuters