Economic Concerns Affect Voters’ Decision-Making

By Su Jeong Youk
Boston University News Service

BOSTON – With the slow economic recovery and high unemployment rate, the presidential candidates’ plans to strengthen the economy have played a big role in voters’ decision-making, some Boston-area residents say.

“Economy is the biggest priority the candidates should have,” said Jiajun Guo, a Boston University senior who is applying for jobs and planned to vote today. “It’s one of the things that needs to be solved quickly because everything depends on it.”

Other Bostonians agreed. “Issues on foreign policy, immigrants, health care and many more are important but those problems can’t get solved if our economy isn’t improved,” said Matt Schmitt, a 41-year-old Dorchester resident who was heading to the polls as an undecided voter.

Throughout the 2012 presidential debates, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shared their ideas on ways to improve the country’s economy.

If re-elected, President Obama plans to enhance the economy further by taxing the top 2 percent of the wealthy, providing tax cuts to small businesses, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and spending more on rebuilding infrastructure, education and natural energy sources.

“The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for a lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in the second term,” Obama said in the second presidential debate.

On the other hand, Romney’s “five-point plan,” would reverse many of the president’s economic policies. First, he wants to achieve energy independence; second, open new markets for U.S. goods and services; third, provide better training programs for unemployed workers; fourth, cut government deficit and fifth, “champion” small businesses.

Romney also emphasised that the government would not have to raise taxes on the middle class or cut taxes for the wealthy if his plans were followed. He said that the president’s plans have been a burden in America’s economic growth. “The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked,” Romney has said.

After watching the debates, voters had mixed responses about which candidate’s plan was more convincing.

“Romney kept saying ‘I know what it takes’ but honestly I think his plan simply doesn’t make sense,” said Guo, who said the former governor’s affluent background hinders him from understanding what middle-class Americans really need. “He’s never been one of us, you know?”

Some voters also were disappointed by the lack of change in the last four years and were hopeful about what Romney could offer with his detailed plan.

“Romney’s plan definitely seemed more favorable,” said Colleen Henderson, 35, who works in a finance company at downtown Boston. “He approached all the issues very specifically and it just sounded more promising.”

However, at least one economic expert rates Obama’s economic plan more highly than Romney’s.

“The stimulus a few years ago was very important in keeping the economy from falling into a depression,” said Robert Margo, chair of BU’s department of economics. “Although Obama underestimated how slowly the economy will improve, it has been improving… and majority [of the experts] give him at least a two-thirds or higher probability of being re-elected.”

Schmitt said that no matter which candidate is elected as president, it’s most important that their economic plans are achievable. “We need a president who can keep their words and successfully repair the damage done from the last recession,” he said.


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