President Barack Obama on Tuesday put a fresh emphasis on his second-term agenda with the release of a 20-page booklet called “Blueprint for America’s Future.”
The Obama campaign unveiled the booklet at a campaign rally in Florida amid criticism from his Republican rival Mitt Romney – and even some Democrats – that he has not provided enough specifics about what he would do with another four years in the White House. The agenda spans a series of proposals, all of which have previously been announced, that includes increased spending on education, making the nation energy independent, boosting manufacturing jobs and raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“That’s how you build a strong, sustainable economy that has good middle-class jobs to offer” Obama said on Tuesday. “Now it’s up to you to choose the path we will take from here.”
With the renewed emphasis on his second-term agenda, Obama campaign advisers are acknowledging that the president cannot expect to win over undecided voters by simply criticizing Romney, the AP reports. In their effort to show voters what another four years of an Obama presidency would look like, the campaign has released new television advertisements, increased direct mailing efforts in battleground states, and created a website contrasting Obama’s “vision for America” with Romney’s.
The campaign booklet -- essentially a repackaging of his current platform -- features sections devoted to the economy, small business, education, tax reform, health care and protecting retirement security.
The president’s plan to “build the economy from the middle class out” focuses on two areas -- American manufacturing and energy production. To reach his goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing and technology jobs by the end of 2016, Obama wants to do the following: lower the corporate tax code to 25 percent (as well as cut rates on domestic manufacturers), train 2 million workers for in-demand technical jobs via new partnerships between community colleges and employers, create a network of up to 20 manufacturing innovation institutions that allow businesses and research universities come together to create the next generation of (American-made) technologies.
In a continued quest to both create jobs and help the U.S. reach its goal of energy independence, Obama is pursuing what he calls an “all-of-the-above” strategy that includes opening up millions of acres of new land for oil and gas development; investing in domestic clean energy resources such as wind, solar, and biofuel technology while pursuing more stringent energy-efficiency standards; and setting guidelines for utility companies that say 80 percent of the nation’s electricity must come from clean energy sources by 2035. The campaign says all of those strategies, in addition to those already put in place by the Obama administration, will help put thousands of Americans back to work.
As has often been brought up on the campaign trail, Obama supported 18 different tax cuts for small businesses during his first term. In addition, he also expanded low cost loans through the Small Business Administration and provided tax credits for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act.
To support small-business growth in his second term, Obama has proposed extending the middle-class income tax cuts, which his administration says would prevent 97 percent of small-business owners from facing a tax increase. The president also proposes cutting taxes for those businesses that hire new workers or increase wages (the plan does not specify how much would be cut) and expanding the Affordable Care Act’s small-business tax credit to cover 50 percent of a company’s health care costs.
Obama has a clear education goal: making sure the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020 to ensure the nation can be competitive in the 21st-century economy.
To do this, the president aims to make college more affordable by continuing to offer education tax credits to middle-class families, doubling the number of work- study jobs funded by the government and creating incentives that can help schools keep the cost of tuition down.
But to send more kids to college, the nation needs to improve its public education system. That is why Obama aims to strengthen public schools across the country by expanding Race to the Top and encouraging school districts to come up with local solutions to address their individual problems. In order to stay competitive with foreign nations, the president has proposed recruiting and training 100,000 math and science teachers, subject areas in which the United States is lagging (at least in its school systems).
As part of the effort to combat the nation’s enormous budget deficit without gutting federal entitlement programs, Obama has proposed what he calls a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes calling for a higher, Clinton-era income tax rate on the most affluent Americans, and pushing for the passage of a deficit reduction plan the administration claims would reduce the nation's debt by more than $4 million over the next 10 years. The vaguest part of Obama’s plan calls for taking the money the nation will presumably save from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (after 2014) and using half of it to pay down the deficit, while investing the other to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and schools across the country.
This part of Obama’s blueprint reiterates the accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act and details some aspects of the law that will be in place starting in 2014. Some of those provisions include guaranteed insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, creating state-run health insurance exchanges and reigning in premium rates to ensure some beneficiaries -- such as women -- are not overcharged.
During his first term, President Obama strengthened health care for senior by seriously investigating reports of Medicare fraud and insurance overpayments. The administration’s health care reform law also closed the so-called “donut hole” for seniors with high prescription drugs costs, ultimately leading to savings averaging $600 for about 4 million seniors.
If he is re-elected, Obama has pledged to oppose any efforts to privatize Social Security or state proposals that would turn Medicare into a voucher system. The latter has been a frequent topic in the presidential campaign as a result of the GOP vice presidential nominee’s recent authorship of the austere House Republican Budget, which would reform Medicare so that beneficiaries (instead of receiving direct health coverage) would receive vouchers from the government that could be used toward purchasing either a private insurance plan or one that acts like traditional Medicare.