Presidential candidates and role of government

The 2012 election is officially is beginning to take shape.

As the Arizona Republican debate grew closer, so did the policies and proposals of each of the candidates.

I have previously said that foreign policy will come to define the politics of this decade. The role of the federal government at home (the size, scope, and dealings) however, is next on that list.

While the GOP platform calls for fiscal responsibility, each candidate differs minutely from one another regarding the federal government’s everyday role.

First we have the favorite: Mitt Romney. Though Romney has campaigned as a conservative, many conservatives haven’t forgotten the Romney tradition of moderate-to-liberal Republican politicians.

Nevertheless, the Romney platform calls for fiscal reform. Lower spending, lower taxes and entitlement program reform, according to Romney’s campaign website.

Another slogan at the forefront of the Romney campaign is a “smaller, smarter and simpler government.” Romney seeks to eliminate regulation (requiring some, though), maintain social security (while somehow strengthening it), and reform and lower taxes.

Hot on Romney’s heels is candidate Rick Santorum. Santorum has recently made his campaign more about social issues and social conservatism rather than economic issues and fiscal conservatism. This appeal to the socially conservative base has had a profound impact on the would-be or hypothetical role of the federal government under a Santorum administration.

Santorum’s campaign website makes it clear that he is staunchly pro-life and in favor of increasing government regulation on social issues, especially abortion. Hypothetically, Santorum would most probably sign into law a bill banning abortion if it were ever sent to him in the White House. This unavoidably and dramatically increases the federal government’s role in personal and social issues.

In contrast to his social conservatism, Santorum also calls for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and entitlement reform — much like his opponent Romney.

Next we have Newt Gingrich’s campaign. Seemingly in line with the general Republican platform, Gingrich seeks to first and foremost repeal President Obama’s health care legislation. He also calls for a new U.S. energy plan, something which may actually increase the size of the federal government. He is for strictly enforcing immigration laws, defending Second Amendment rights, and — of course — lowering taxes and spending less.

Last but certainly not least, we have the struggling yet valiant Ron Paul campaign. Ron Paul differs from the other candidates in a few major ways. He views social issues as issues within each state – issues to be decided differently among the people of that state. This makes social issues unimportant to the Paul campaign. I’ve previously stated that this is the direction I feel the GOP party base needs to embrace.

He is, of course, fiscally conservative, but identifiably more so than his Republican counterparts. He seeks to eliminate the Federal Reserve and dramatically alter foreign policy by shrinking the U.S. national defense. If you are looking for a candidate that is consistently against a bigger federal government in any way, Paul is your candidate.

It’s safe to say that all these candidates are complete fiscal opposites of our current administration.

I hope you’ll visit each of the candidate’s campaign websites to learn more about them so that you may be informed when you cast your vote this election.

One more thing: Watch or read about the Arizona debate! Everything is at stake.

Reach the columnist at spmccaul@asu.edu

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