Politics

CBS Local Presidential Forum: Obama/Romney: Duke It Out Over Energy And Health Care

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President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. (Getty Images/Luke Sharrett and Joe Raedle)

President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. (Getty Images/Luke Sharrett and Joe Raedle)

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By Carol Cain CBS 62 Detroit

With the roller coaster ride of gas prices across the nation and volatile nature of relations in the Middle East, America’s energy policy is being debated by Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama as the two men vying to become our 45th president continued to answer questions on vital issues in the CBS Local Presidential Forum.

To help voters learn more about the two candidates and their policies, CBS Local asked them 10 questions in 10 days in the exclusive forum.

Both men have advocated for a reduction in foreign oil imports and an expansion of U.S. energy production to boost the economy and create new jobs.  Beyond that, they disagree over the role government should play in subsidizing energy production.

“I have recently put forward a six-part plan to achieve North American energy independence by 2020,” Romney answered. “First, I will empower states to control all forms of energy development on federal lands within their borders, excluding only those that are off-limits. Second, I will open offshore areas to energy development. Third, I will pursue a North American Energy Partnership so that America can benefit from the resources of its neighbors. Fourth, I will ensure accurate assessment of the nation’s resources by updating decades-old surveys. Fifth, I will restore transparency and fairness to federal regulations. And sixth, I will facilitate private-sector-led development of new energy technologies and remove barriers to a diversification of our fuel system and vehicle fleet.”

When Obama took office, the country was importing more than 60 percent of our oil. Today, it has dropped to just over 40 percent.

Obama wants to cut net oil imports in half by 2020, cutting imports by 5.5 million barrels per day and reducing our reliance on foreign oil to its lowest level in almost three decades.

Another issue near the top of every ledger board of concerns mentioned by Americans: health care.

“Everyone knows healthcare is a huge issue and with baby boomers aging, and more taking care of their kids and also their parents, it’s going to be a bigger issue tomorrow that this country has to come to grips with,” said Jim Dehem, president and CEO of Community Living Services, a non profit that provides at-home care services for thousands in Michigan and other states.

“Supporting people with disabilities and seniors at home and not in facilities is another growing factor in all of this. It is not not only the right thing to do–it is imperative to meeting the demands that will impact our Medicaid and Medicare systems,” Dehem added.

The two presidential candidates were asked a question by CBS Local about Obamacare vs. Romneycare and asked them to talk about the similarities or differences between the two plans.

Today: Rising Health Care Costs

“President Obama’s health care law raised taxes on middle class families and raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for a federal takeover of our nation’s health care system,” Romney said.

Romney added he took the exact opposite approach in Massachusetts where he worked with a Democratic state legislature to enact health reforms that applied Massachusetts solutions to Massachusetts problems.

“The reforms I pursued did not raise taxes and did not raid the health security programs our nation’s seniors rely on. And they passed with a near unanimous support, were never challenged in court, and enjoy broad support within the state.”

Romney added, “ I will repeal Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach and restore state’s to their traditional role as leaders in solving our health care challenges.”

Obama believes affordable health insurance is key to every American. He added that by expanding coverage and putting a stop to insurance company abuses, Obamacare is giving millions of Americans peace of mind.

The Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable – putting an end to the worst abuses, such as capping or dropping your coverage when you get sick or refusing to cover kids just because they were born with a preexisting condition.

Obama also said Obamacare was based on Romneycare and that it was a shame to see the Governor turn his back on that law and on the millions of people who are benefitting from it.

Coming up: Hear what President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have to say to this question: Considering the anti-American sentiment and the volatile nature of the Middle East, what is your policy on national defense?”

(Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who has covered politics and business over 20 years. She is Senior Producer/Host of CBS62’s “Michigan Matters” and writes a column on politics and business for Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at clcain@cbs.com).

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