x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Key issues for the US election

Some of the key issues facing voters before the polling booths close tomorrow night.

Debt

The amount the US government spends more than it collects has topped US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn) for the fourth straight year. The US government borrows about 31 cents for every dollar it spends. It now owes a shade over $16tn.

To reduce the deficit, Mr Obama would raised taxes on households earning more than $250,000 and impose a surcharge of 30 per cent on those making more than $1 million. Mr Romney would lower deficits mostly through deep spending cuts. But many of the cuts he is pushing would be partially negated by his proposals to lower top tax rates on corporations and individuals.

Economy

The job market is brutal and the economy weak. More than 12 million Americans cannot find work; the unemployment rate fell in September and ticked back up to 7.9 per cent last month. It had been more than 8 per cent for 43 straight months.

Mr Obama wants to create jobs by keeping taxes low for everybody but the wealthiest and with public-works spending, clean energy projects and targeted tax breaks to businesses. Mr Romney proposes further cuts in tax rates for all income levels; he would also slash corporate rates, reduce regulations and encourage oil production.

Health care

America's health care system is unsustainable. It's three problems: cost, quality and coverage. The US has world-class hospitals and doctors. But it spends far more than other advanced countries and people aren't much healthier. And in an aging society, there's no reliable long-term care.

Mr Obama's expansion of coverage for the uninsured hits high gear in 2014. Mr Romney would repeal Mr Obama's health care law but hasn't spelled out what he'd do instead. The risk of expanding coverage: health costs consume more of the economy. The risk of not: millions continue uninsured or saddled with heavy coverage costs.

Environment

This year, America's weather has been hotter and more extreme than ever. In the US, July was the hottest month yet recorded, and this year is on track to be the warmest.

Mr Obama achieved historic increases in fuel-economy standards and imposed the first regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Mr Romney questions the cause of climate change and opposes treating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.