The holidays are a great time to enjoy good food and the company of friends and family. But we’ve all seen things start to go sour once Uncle Frank corners you in the kitchen with a tangent about how the President has cut his Medicare (hint: he didn't) or that Scott Brown has been standing up for the middle class (hint: he hasn't been).
This year, we've got your back with a cheat sheet on the competing records of President Obama and Senator Brown. We'll take each claim on one by one, and give you the information you need to hold your own. We may not be able to keep Grandma and Aunt Maury from going at it over how to glaze the ham, but we can at least give you the facts about our elected officials.
Make sure to share it with your friends and family to help them prepare too!
Senator Scott Brown
President Barack Obama
Claim: "The President hasn't done enough to support Israel..."
Claim: "We left Iraq before the job was done..."
Claim: "He hasn't done enough to boost the economy..."
Claim: "The President hasn't done enough for the environment..."
Claim: "The President hasn't reduced our dependence on foreign oil..."
Claim: "The President hasn't done enough to fight for women's rights..."
Claim: "The President's healthcare bill is a government takeover..."
Since arriving in Washington, Scott Brown seems to have forgotten the people who elected him. In his tenure as US Senator, he has voted repeatedly against job creation in order to protect the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street who fund his campaign. The links below provide a bit of context to each of his most egregious votes against jobs.
With President Obama's payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of 2011, Congress needed to pass an extension or the average American family would see a tax increase of $1,000. The President had included an extension as part of the American Jobs Act, but Brown voted to filibuster it.
The Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011 would have not only extend the payroll tax cut, but increased the cut. A family making $50,000 per year would have seen a cut of more than $1,500. Keeping an eye on deficit reduction, the bill came fully paid for by a 1.9% surtax on individuals earning over $1,000,000 per year beginning in 2013. It also limited millionaires’ access to food stamps and created a surtax on any unemployment insurance they might collect.
As of this writing, the tax cut extension is set to expire at the end of the year. If it does not get extended, taxes on 160 million American workers will go up. And Scott Brown will have been a big part of that.
- Ended the threat of a $1,000 tax hike
- Increased the payroll tax cut to $1,500 per year for the average American family
- Extended the payroll tax cut through 2012
- Paid for by 1.9% surtax on individuals making more than $1 million per year
- Scott Brown voted against it
Barack Obama has strengthened America’s unbreakable commitment to Israel. He has a deep understanding of the grave threats Israel faces and has worked tirelessly to ensure Israel’s security. President Obama strongly supports direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people that protect Israel’s core interests, address Israel’s security needs, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people. That’s why the Obama administration has executed a robust multilateral strategy to counter efforts to de-legitimize Israel.
- UNPRECEDENTED SECURITY SUPPORT: President Obama has reaffirmed America’s special relationship with Israel and has increased America’s security assistance to unprecedented levels. President Obama provided the largest-ever security assistance package to Israel in 2011 and directed Congress to authorize funding for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system, designed to protect Israel’s cities from rockets and mortars launched by Hamas and Hezbollah. President Obama is committed to implementing the Memorandum of Understanding with Israel to provide $30 billion in military aid by 2019.
- PEACE AND SECURITY FOR ISRAEL: President Obama strongly supports the goal of two states, with Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people and a Palestinian state as the homeland for the Palestinians, with borders negotiated between the two parties that allow both to live side by side in peace and security. President Obama has committed himself and his administration to actively pursuing this goal.
- STANDING UP FOR ISRAEL BEFORE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY: Under President Obama, the U.S. has strongly opposed any attempts to de-legitimize Israel. The President used the first United Nations Security Council veto of his administration to block efforts to condemn Israel. He also stood with Israel at the United Nations to block Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel and pursue statehood recognition unilaterally. Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Obama’s support for Israel at the U.N. a “badge of honor.”
- ISOLATING IRAN: President Obama has stood by Israel in the face of Iranian provocations. The President has repeatedly affirmed that he is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and has secured the most severe sanctions Iran has ever faced, delivering a severe blow to the Iranian economy. President Obama has worked with our friends and allies to isolate Iran diplomatically, weakening the Iranian regime at home and abroad.
- GOP WOULD ZERO-OUT ISRAEL AID: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have each come out in support of zeroing out foreign aid to Israel.
President Obama has kept his word: he brought the war in Iraq to a responsible end and brought home our troops. When the President took office in January 2009, there were 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq; today those troops are home with their families. Our combat mission in Iraq has ended, and the Iraqi people now have full responsibility for the security of their nation.
- COMMITTED TO IRAQ’S SECURITY: Now that the United States has transitioned full security responsibility to the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government and its 670,000-strong security force are responsible for securing the future of their country. President Obama will continue to develop a strong and enduring partnership with the Iraqi people, who, as Secretary of Defense Panetta has said, are now equipped to handle their own challenges.
- HONORING THE SERVICE OF VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES: Servicemen and women should never return home and find themselves struggling to make ends meet. That’s why the President is making sure our troops and their families get the care, benefits and opportunities they have earned. He has proposed and enacted new tax credits to encourage businesses to hire unemployed and disabled veterans, locked in pledges from America’s largest businesses to hire veterans and their spouses, and launched government programs to help veterans transition to the private sector. President Obama also has boosted the Veterans Affairs budget to ensure veterans receive timely access to quality care.
- REFOCUSING ON AL-QAEDA: The President refocused our security priorities on the most serious threats we face at home and abroad and is dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda and its affiliates. We have driven al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, taking away the safe haven from which the attacks of 9/11 were launched. In making the gutsy call to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, President Obama showed America’s resolve and our ability to unite together to face the greatest threats to our nation.
- GOP HAS NO PLAN FOR IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN: Republican Presidential candidates have criticized the President for ending the Iraq war and bringing our troops home safely. None has offered a clear strategy to end the war, and some would leave our troops on the ground for years to come. Mitt Romney didn’t even lay out in his foreign policy agenda a mission or plan to end the war in Iraq. Republicans also oppose any timeline to bring our troops home safely and hand over security to Afghans, leaving our soldiers there indefinitely while failing to articulate any clear mission for them.
Over the last few decades, middle-class security had been slipping away for millions of families. Wages stagnated while health care costs soared. Fewer employers offered retirement and health benefits. College tuition costs skyrocketed. And then the Wall Street meltdown and housing market crash cost 8.8 million jobs and sent the economy into a deep recession. In January 2009 – just as the President took office – more than 700,000 Americans lost their jobs.
From day one, President Obama took immediate action to address the crisis and began laying the foundation for a job-creating economy that’s built to last. President Obama’s recovery program supported as many as 3.5 million jobs by cutting taxes; investing in clean energy, roads and bridges; keeping teachers in the classroom; and protecting unemployment benefits. The private sector has now created nearly 3 million jobs during 21 straight months of private-sector growth – but our work is not done. His proposed American Jobs Act would put even more people back to work now and put even more money in people’s pockets, but Washington Republicans are blocking it.
As we recover from the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, President Obama is fighting to restore the basic values of balance and fairness that made our country great. We are now at a make-or-break moment for the middle class.
The President believes Americans should be able to earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to school, own a home and put enough away to retire. That can only happen when hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and when everybody plays by the same rules, does their fair share and has a fair shot at success. To create true middle-class security, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity, as some have suggested. An economy that creates the jobs of the future and exports goods stamped “Made in America” will not come by outsourcing, but by out-educating, out-innovating and out-building the world.
- HARD WORK PAYS AND RESPONSIBILITY IS REWARDED: President Obama cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, and for small businesses to help them expand and create jobs. He also helped millions of families refinance their mortgages and avoid foreclosure.
- CREATING AN ECONOMY BUILT TO LAST BY:
- OUT-EDUCATING THE REST OF THE WORLD: In the face of Congressional inaction, President Obama took his own action to provide states relief from No Child Left Behind mandates, giving them the flexibility to use local solutions to help improve their schools and increase accountability. President Obama made college education accessible to hundreds of thousands more students by ending billions of dollars in subsidies to banks and using the savings to double funding for Pell grants. He also raised K-12 teaching and learning standards in more than 40 states through Race to the Top, invested in community colleges, and promoted science, technology and math education to prepare students for the good-paying jobs of the future. The President saved the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators across the country and is fighting to save even more through the American Jobs Act.
- OUT-INNOVATING THE REST OF THE WORLD: President Obama made substantial investments in clean energy manufacturing to create the jobs of the future here in America and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He also streamlined the patent process to help small business innovators move ideas from the lab to market.
- OUT-BUILDING THE REST OF THE WORLD: The President saved the auto industry from collapse, preventing the loss of more than 1.4 million jobs. He’s helping American businesses compete in the global marketplace and is doubling our nation’s exports by 2015. To level the playing field for American businesses and workers, President Obama signed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that will support over 70,000 American jobs.
- EVERYONE PLAYS BY THE SAME RULES: The President passed Wall Street reform to protect American families from unfair lending practices, rein in excesses on Wall Street, prevent future financial crises and end “too big to fail.” He stopped credit card companies from charging hidden fees and penalties and imposing unfair rate hikes. And he passed landmark health care reform to ensure that insurance companies can’t charge unfair premium increases, place lifetime caps on an individual’s health care or discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.
- EVERYONE DOES THEIR FAIR SHARE: The President has called for closing tax loopholes to ensure millionaires and billionaires don’t pay less in taxes than the middle class.
- WE’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER: The President signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure women get equal pay for equal work. He also is ensuring veterans find a job when they return from Iraq and Afghanistan by cutting taxes for companies that hire them.
- GOP TURNING ITS BACK ON THE MIDDLE CLASS: Republicans don’t have a single new idea to create jobs or restore middle-class families’ security. Instead they promise to return to the exact same failed ideas that caused the crisis in the first place: a you’re-on-your-own economics that would let Wall Street write its own rules again, give insurance companies control over our health, and ask middle-class families to pay for tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthiest.
President Obama has made developing clean energy and protecting the environment a priority, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, investing in clean-energy jobs, and taking steps to improve the quality of our air and water. Public-private partnerships led by the administration have created nearly a quarter of a million private-sector jobs in the clean energy industry.
- FIGHTING THE CAUSES OF GLOBAL WARMING: The Obama administration nearly doubled fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks, which will cut in half greenhouse gas pollution from these vehicles. Under President Obama, the EPA is developing rules governing greenhouse gas pollution.
- KEEPING OUR AIR AND WATER SAFE: Under President Obama’s watch, the EPA has taken unprecedented steps to protect our air and water and prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths, proposing the first-ever national standard for mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants, requiring states to cut down on pollutants that cross their borders, setting in motion a plan to develop a first-ever national standard for the disposal of water used in extracting natural gas through the technique of hydraulic fracturing. He’s also stood firm against continued Congressional Republican attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act.
- HISTORIC INVESTMENTS IN CLEAN ENERGY: President Obama’s Recovery Act included historic investments in clean energy projects and the President has set an ambitious goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. In addition to funding groundbreaking clean energy technologies, the Obama administration has approved 22 renewable energy projects on public lands that are expected to produce enough energy to power approximately 1.5 million American homes.
- DOMESTIC OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION: The Obama administration established new safety regulations for offshore drilling projects in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf, designed to prevent the same irresponsible risk-taking from happening again while continuing to allow the safe, responsible development of offshore energy. In 2010, the United States produced more oil than it has since 2003 and the most natural gas it’s produced in 30 years, helping us cut back foreign oil imports to the lowest point since 2003.
- PROTECTING THE OUTDOORS: President Obama signed a law that provided for one of the largest expansions of federally protected wilderness in decades. He also established the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to reconnect Americans to the country’s waterways, landscapes, parks, and beaches. The initiative has helped to add nearly 650 miles to the national trails system in 2011, fund 9 large-scale greenhouse gas mitigation projects in 24 states, and launch the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.
- GOP WOULD ENDANGER OUR AIR AND WATER: Every major Republican candidate for president opposes limiting carbon emissions and has proposed rolling back the EPA’s authority – some would even eliminate it. Mitt Romney now says he’s not sure how much humans contribute to global warming and that regulating carbon dioxide emissions is wrong.
President Obama, the father of two girls, has been a staunch advocate for women since the day he took office. He’s protected and advanced policies that promote fairness, equal opportunity and a level playing field. From ensuring equal pay for an equal day’s work to expanding access to quality, affordable health care, child care and education, the President’s agenda illustrates his belief that women’s issues are America’s issues.
- EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK: The very first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that ensured women can get paid the same as men for the same work.
- PREPARING WOMEN AND GIRLS FOR JOBS OF THE FUTURE: The President has worked to increase participation by women and girls in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) so they are prepared for the good-paying jobs of the future.
- IMPROVING WOMEN’S HEALTH: Because of the President’s Affordable Care Act, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition, and women can no longer be charged more in premiums than men. Health insurance plans also are now required to cover women’s preventive services such as well-woman visits, mammograms and other cancer screenings, domestic violence screenings, contraception, and other important services without charge. The law also ensures that women can see an OB/GYN without a referral and can choose the pediatrician they want from their health plan’s provider network.
- PROTECTING WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE: President Obama continues to stand by a woman’s right to choose. He reversed the global gag rule, which banned the government from providing aid to international family planning groups that provide abortion information, and has stood up to Republicans trying to roll back women’s right to choose and defund Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of women’s health care in the country.
- FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORK POLICIES: President Obama has championed flexible work policies to guarantee that women need not choose between keeping their jobs and meeting the needs of their families. Additionally, the Recovery Act increased investments to improve the quality of child care for infants and toddlers, and expanded Head Start and Early Head Start to reach an additional 61,000 children and families.
- GOP WOULD REVERSE WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Every Republican candidate for president has endorsed overturning Roe v. Wade. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry even supported a personhood amendment that would have outlawed abortion in all cases and banned certain forms of birth control, like the birth control pill.
President Obama passed the landmark Affordable Care Act to restore health care as a basic cornerstone of middle-class security in America. The Affordable Care Act makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses and brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the insurance industry.
- ENDING INSURANCE COMPANY ABUSES: The Affordable Care Act ends the worst insurance company abuses, including denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and cancelling coverage when someone gets sick. Consumers also have a new right of appeal to an independent third party when insurance companies refuse to cover services or care.
- KEEPING PREMIUMS LOW: Insurance companies now must publicly justify excessive rate hikes, and states have new tools and resources to review them. Insurance companies also must provide rebates if they don’t spend at least 80 percent of consumers’ premiums on care instead of overhead, marketing and profits.
- REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS: Before health reform, insurance premiums were skyrocketing and the cost of caring for the uninsured added $1,000 to the typical policy. The Affordable Care Act promotes better value through preventive care, coordinated care, and reduced waste and abuse. Starting in 2014, new state-run marketplaces will increase competition among insurers. Already, premiums and health spending are growing more slowly.
- EXPANDING ACCESS TO CARE: Because of the Affordable Care Act, 32 million more Americans will be able to afford insurance for the first time. Nearly all Americans – including 95 percent of those under age 65 – will have insurance.
- IMPROVING PREVENTIVE CARE: Insurance companies are now required to provide preventive care coverage, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks and vaccinations with no co-pay or out-of-pocket costs. Medicare is also offering free preventive care to seniors.
- HELPING KIDS STAY HEALTHY: 4.9 million children with preexisting conditions are now able to get health insurance. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could deny coverage to kids with medical conditions.
- SUPPORTING YOUNG AMERICANS ENTERING THE WORKFORCE: 3.4 million young adults are now eligible to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans up to age 26. In the law’s first year, close to a million young adults – traditionally the group most likely to be uninsured – gained insurance. States are also creating new options for adults with preexisting conditions.
- CLOSING THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG “DOUGHNUT HOLE”: Because of the Affordable Care Act, over 2.6 million seniors have saved over $550 each on their prescription drugs. By 2020, the Medicare “doughnut hole” will be completed closed.
- GOP WOULD PUT INSURANCE COMPANIES BACK IN CHARGE: Every Republican candidate for president has said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act, putting insurance companies back in charge of people’s health. Mitt Romney has also proposed cutting Medicaid by a third and privatizing Medicare.