Squaring off for the presidency: what Romney and Obama's platforms mean for business ownersBusiness leaders are throwing out some tough questions for the candidates in this year’s presidential election. And before they cast a vote for Republican nominee Mitt Romney or incumbent President Barack Obama, they want answers. Who will grow the national economy? How will we solve the deficit problem? Meanwhile, the nominees maintain their policies will revive business growth, while their opponents’ would further damage the economy.

Although Americans are used to being bombarded with conflicting political messages, it makes it hard to know what is really at stake for U.S. business owners. So here is a summary of where the candidates differ on some of the more controversial business issues.

Who can revive the economy?

The candidates agree filtering more money into the economy through the private sector is the key to boosting job growth. What they disagree on is who should do the filtering and, specifically, what role the government should play in free enterprise.

Obama wants to increase taxes on top earners, which would allow the government to increase spending on programs that will create jobs.

Romney counters that the government does not know enough about individual regions, companies, and industries to allocate capital as well as businesses could. The Republican recovery plan includes reducing taxes for the wealthy, middle class, and corporations, which Republicans say would free up capital needed for businesses to grow.

What should we do about health care?

With rising health care costs, businesses will need to look at which solutions for health care reform make sense for them and their employees. If Obama is reelected, employers will most likely see a continuation of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – popularly called Obamacare – which adds increased patient protections, more W-2 reporting, health care exchanges, and tax penalties for certain businesses that don’t offer employee health care coverage. 

Romney has called PPACA a “job killer,” saying its penalties on employers will stifle small business hiring. If Republicans gain control of the Senate and presidency, they’ve made it a priority to overturn PPACA in favor of promoting free-market competition.

How can we reduce the deficit?

Perhaps the point the candidates vary most on is government spending. Romney and Obama’s budget proposals are as much as $1 trillion apart on spending and about $300 billion a year apart on revenue after 10 years. President Obama proposes a budget with smaller cuts and higher tax rates — up to 39.6 percent — on the wealthiest individuals so the government can gain fiscal footing without curbing entitlement programs for the 29 percent of Americans that rely on them. Romney favors a balanced budget and a smaller government, again promoting a free-market centered system with less government spending. Instead of tax increases, his budget recommends capping spending of the gross domestic product at 20 percent by 2016 and restructuring entitlement programs.

All elections are important, but this year’s election is particularly so.  Regardless of your political views, please make sure you exercise one of our country’s most significant rights by voting on November 6.