In 2004, Congress offered corporations a one-time lower tax rate if they repatriated some of those foreign earnings, called "undistributed earnings." Republicans, who consider the U.S. taxes essentially double taxation, have pushed for another similar tax holiday.
Both candidates were squishy on deficit reduction. The president claimed that the Romney economic plan would add $5 trillion to the deficit, a charge Romney refuted by saying he wouldn’t sign onto anything that adds a dollar to the deficit. Obama seemed to be citing a scoring of the plan by a think tank that it would add $5 trillion over a 10-year period. But that figure omits whatever revenue would be raised by closing tax loopholes. That figure is hard to calculate without knowing whether Romney would scrap the mortgage interest deduction, charitable deductions and other so-called tax expenditures.
Similarly, Obama pointed to his own budget plans that include $4 trillion in deficit reduction. Half of that already has been agreed to in an already existing budget deal forged last year with Congress. And the president is also counting on about $800 billion in savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, something he promised as a candidate, but hardly qualifies as a deficit-reduction measure.
The two men traded barbs on the 2010 overhaul of financial regulation of Wall Street, shorthanded as the Dodd-Frank Act. The law has been a frequent punching bag for many Republican candidates. Romney clarified that he would not seek its complete repeal, just parts of it, mostly unspecified. The GOP nominee said the lack of regulations, two years after enactment, is hurting the economy.
As an example, he pointed to the lack of a definition in the law for a qualified mortgage and suggested that it was keeping banks from lending. There’s no evidence of that. To the contrary, all the data shows that consumers are reluctant to take on new debt, and given that there is no longer a private secondary mortgage market where banks sell off the loans they’ve underwritten, banks are reluctant to lend.
Romney is right that many rules have not been written, but that in part was by design, in response to the financial sector, which sought a long, deliberate rule-writing process to ensure attention to the complexity of these markets.
Romney said he wouldn’t cut federal education spending, though last week he told an education summit that he wouldn’t support more federal spending for education and would leave that to the states. Romney wants to restrict Pell Grants, the main source of federal financial aid for college, to just the poorest students. “Flooding colleges with federal dollars only serves to drive tuition higher,” a Romney campaign education policy paper says.
But campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg has declined to provide details about where Romney would set the limits.
Under Obama, Pell Grants have more than doubled, from $16 billion in 2008 to $36 billion last year. The size of the grants increased, as did the number of recipients, from about 6 million to 9 million.
Kevin Hall, Tony Pugh and Matt Schofield of the Washington Bureau contributed.