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)

Obama backed the DREAM Act, a failed bill that would have provided a path to legal status for many young illegal immigrants. In June, Obama decided to allow as many as 1.7 million of them to stay for up to two years. Romney supports completing a fence at the Mexican border and other tough security measures while pledging to veto the DREAM Act.

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Income inequality:

The income gap between the rich and everyone else is getting larger, while middle incomes stagnate. That's raised concerns that the middle class isn't sharing in economic growth as it used to.

Obama would raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, plus set a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for those earning $1 million or more. He also wants to spend more on education, "a gateway to the middle class." Romney would cut taxes more broadly and says that will generate enough growth to raise all incomes.

Income inequality has risen for three decades and worsened since the recession ended. The Census Bureau found the highest-earning 20 percent earned 51.1 percent of all income last year. That was the biggest share on records dating to 1967. The share earned by households in the middle 20 percent fell to 14.3 percent, a record low.

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Iran:

With the Iraq war over and Afghanistan winding down, Iran is the most likely place for a new U.S. military conflict.

Obama says he'll prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He hopes sanctions alongside negotiations can get Iran to halt uranium enrichment. But the strategy hasn't worked yet. Obama holds out the threat of military action as a last resort.

Romney accuses Obama of being weak on Iran. He says the U.S. needs to present a greater military threat.

Attacking Iran is no light matter, however. That is why neither candidate clearly calls for military action.

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Presidential Election