Ultimate NH Primary Cheat Sheet
1:56 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

The Ultimate NH Primary Cheat Sheet

After months of political debates, ad buying, and hand-shaking, the New Hampshire Republican primary is finally upon us. And not surprisingly, the latest WMUR Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows that the economy/jobs is the top issue for about 60 percent of the state's voters.

The Iowa Caucuses have winnowed the field ever so slightly, with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann suspending her campaign, and Texas Governor Rick Perry currently re-evaluating his run. But, as of our posting, Perry is still at least nominally in the running.

And that still leaves a lot of research to be done for undecided voters.

So StateImpact's decided to lend you a hand. We've visited the candidates' websites and done a spot of side research, examining their views on various economic policies. And we've generated a bullet-pointed cheat sheet...kind of a basic guide to where the Republican presidential candidates stand on a number of key economy-related issues.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the candidates' views.* It's an overview of major points they've cited in their campaign websites and the little things that caught our eye.

We aren't looking at why the candidates are proposing what they are, the feasibility of their plans, or analyzing possible consequences.

That's what months' worth of national political coverage has been for.

Instead, we just want to give you a decent starting point as you prepare to vote in the primary, indulge in heated debates, listen to election coverage, plot your political strategy, or otherwise participate in this mainstay piece of election-year Americana.

Before we kick-off the candidate-by-candidate overview, here's a brief list of some points we've found where the Republican contenders agree:

      • Repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka: "Obamacare" in conservative circles)**
      • Repeal or defund the Dodd-Frank Act
      • Eliminate the estate tax (aka: "death tax" in conservative circles)
      • Eliminate or privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
      • Balance the budget (although the means vary)

So with all that in mind, we now present The Ultimate NH Primary Cheat Sheet:

Newt Gingrich

  • Personal Taxes: Make Bush tax cuts permanent. Create 15 percent optional flat income tax, keeping deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax rate to 12.5 percent. Allow companies to expense new equipment purchases.

  • Spending: Of all the candidates, Gingrich remains the murkiest on where, exactly, he proposes spending cuts (although he says he supports them). His campaign website offers no specifics. After trolling the internet, we decided to check in with the conservative Cato Institute. In a comparison of Republican candidates, they found one department–Education–that Gingrich appeared to be in favor of cutting. They did not, however, find a specific dollar figure tied to that proposed cut.

  • Other: Repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. (The law was passed in response to a number of high-profile corporate scandals, including WorldCom and Enron. Among other things, the act established new auditing standards for corporations.)

Jon Huntsman

  • Personal Taxes: Eliminate deductions and credits for personal income tax and institute three rates, 8 percent, 14 percent, and 23 percent. Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. Eliminate capital gains and dividends tax.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Tax American companies on what they earn domestically, not their overseas earnings (territorial tax system, rather than worldwide).
  • Spending: Huntsman's campaign website doesn't list spending as a specific issue. But last spring, he endorsed Congressman Paul Ryan's plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Among other things, the Ryan plan calls for: rolling back spending to pre-2008 levels and then freezing spending for five years.**

  • Other: "Enact comprehensive patent reform."

Ron Paul

  • Personal Taxes: Eliminate income and capital gains taxes. Eliminate the IRS. Eliminate taxes on personal savings. Extend all Bush tax cuts.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. Tax American companies on what they earn domestically, not their overseas earnings (territorial tax system, rather than worldwide).

  • Spending: Cut $1 trillion in first year, eliminate Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education. Eliminate Transportation Security Administration. Roll most spending back to 2006 levels. Cut 10 percent of the federal workforce. Cut congressional pay.
  • Other: Audit, then eliminate, the Federal Reserve. Return currency to the gold standard. No more raising the debt ceiling. Cut Defense spending by ending all foreign wars/engagements. Repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (The law was passed in response to a number of high-profile corporate scandals, including WorldCom and Enron. Among other things, the act established new auditing standards for corporations.)

Rick Perry

  • Personal Taxes: 20 percent optional flat income tax, keeping some deductions, including "mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes." Eliminate taxes on dividends and long-term capital gains. Eliminate Social Security Benefits Tax.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax from 35 percent to 20 percent, phase out corporate tax breaks and loopholes. Tax American companies on what they earn domestically, not their overseas earnings (territorial tax system, rather than worldwide).
  • Spending: Federal spending capped at 18 percent of GDP, discretionary spending cut by $100 billion during first year, freeze hiring and salaries of federal civilian employees until budget balanced.
  • Other: Moratorium on new regulations and audit of all Obama-era business regulations, create automatic seven-year sunset on all new regulations (subject to congressional reauthorization).

Mitt Romney

  • Personal Taxes: Keep personal income, capital gains and dividends, and interest tax rates the same. Eliminate interest, dividends, and capital gains taxes for people with adjusted gross income (AGI) below $200,000.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Tax American companies on what they earn domestically, not their overseas earnings (territorial tax system, rather than worldwide).
  • Spending: Federal spending capped at 20 percent GDP. Cut "non-security" discretionary spending by 5 percent. Cut federal jobs through attrition. Bring federal workers' wages and benefits in line "with market rates."
  • Other: Roll back Obama-era labor laws and regulations, support Right-to-Work laws in states.

Rick Santorum***

  • Personal Taxes: Cut income tax rate to two tiers–10 percent and 28 percent. Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. Lower capital gains and dividend tax rate to 12 percent. Triple the tax deduction families can take for each child.
  • Corporate Taxes: Cut income tax rate in half, from 35 percent to 17.5 percent. Increase Research and Development tax credit from 14 percent to 20 percent.
  • Spending: $5 trillion in spending cuts within five years. Freeze non-defense federal employee wages, cut federal workforce by 10 percent, "and phase out defined benefit plans for newer workers." Institute five-year spending freeze on social programs, including: job training, education, Medicaid and food stamps.
  • Other: Cut funding for National Labor Relations Board for decision preventing airplane factory in South Carolina.

*Let's say Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich agreed on a specific policy point during a debate...but if Gingrich has been shouting it out as a key part of his platform, and Santorum's been pretty quiet about it, you'll probably see it in Gingrich's list, and not in the Santorum column.

**Yes, we know the Ryan Plan also calls for privatizing Medicare and turning Medicaid into a block grant program. But we're focusing on the broad strokes of Republican candidates' policy positions vis-a-vis the economy, as opposed to dissecting their views on specific programs, like Medicare and Medicaid.

***Between our initial research and the publication of this post, Rick Santorum finished a very, very close second in the Iowa Caucuses. Now, any attempt to go to his site automatically draws up a donation form, without the option of venturing further into the site. We have opted not to link to this form on the grounds that it would create the appearance that we endorse a particular candidate. Once we can access Santorum's site freely, we will link his name to the details of his policy positions.

Copyright 2012 StateImpact New Hampshire. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/new-hampshire/.