Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Presidential Election

October 5, 2012

WHY IT MATTERS: Issues at stake in election

A selection of issues at stake in the presidential election and their impact on Americans, in brief

(Continued)

This year America's weather has been hotter and more extreme than ever before, records show. Yet the presidential candidates aren't talking about it.

In the U.S. July was the hottest month ever recorded and this year is on track to be the warmest. Scientists say that's both from natural drought and man-made global warming. Each decade since the 1970s has been nearly one-third of a degree warmer than the previous one.

Sea levels are rising while glaciers and summer Arctic sea ice are shrinking. Plants are blooming earlier. Some species could die because of global warming.

Obama proposed a bill to cap power plant carbon dioxide emissions, but it died in Congress. Still, he's doubling auto mileage standards and put billions into cleaner energy. Romney now questions the science of man-made global warming and says some actions to curb emissions could hurt an already struggling economy.

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Debt:

A sea of red ink is confronting the nation and presidents to come.

The budget deficit — the shortfall created when the government spends more in a given year than it collects — is on track to top $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. The government borrows about 40 cents for every dollar it spends.

The national debt is the total amount the federal government owes. It's risen to a shade over $16 trillion.

Obama has proposed bringing deficits down by slowing spending gradually, to avoid suddenly tipping the economy back into recession. He'd raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000 and impose a surcharge of 30 percent on those making more than $1 million. Romney would lower deficits mostly through deep spending cuts. But many of the cuts he's pushing would be partially negated by his proposals to lower top tax rates on corporations and individuals.

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Defense spending:

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Presidential Election