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Five issues where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan differ

at 02:26 PM ET, 08/12/2012

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are joining forces to try and return the Republican Party to power in Washington.

But, as with any newly formed team, there have been times when and issues on which they haven’t been on the same page.

There don’t appear to be many major policy differences between the two men, but here are five worth noting:

1. The auto bailout

Ryan supported the auto bailout four years ago, while Romney opposed it.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks alongside his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, during a campaign rally at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., on Sunday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Ryan comes from a southeastern Wisconsin district that has been hit hard by the problems in the auto industry and he joined with just 31 other Republicans in voting for the auto bailout in December 2008 — though he has since said he voted for it because he thought the money would be spent differently.

Romney, at the time, wrote an op-ed in which he opposed the bailout and advocated a “managed bankruptcy” for the industry.

President Obama’s campaign has made the recovery of the auto industry paramount to its appeals in the Midwest, so expect Democrats to point out the incongruity on the GOP ticket.

2. Abortion exceptions

Ryan opposes abortion under all circumstances, unless the procedure is deemed necessary to save the mother’s life. Romney says he would allow exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

Ryan is a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which defines a fertilized egg as a human being — similar to recent “personhood” efforts in a handful of states. He also won his seat in 1998 by running to his opponent’s right on abortion and emphasizing no exceptions. Romney has suggested he supports a constitutional personhood legislation, but has also said that he would allow for abortions in cases of rape and incest.

Obama noted in a tweet Saturday that Ryan “would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest,” and the White House has made women’s health a key part of the campaign. Perhaps more than anything else on this list, Democrats will use this against the GOP ticket.

3. Capital gains tax cuts

Ryan has advocated for the elimination of the capital gains tax, although his budget leaves tax reform up to the Ways & Means Committee. Romney has moved to cut the capital gains tax without ending it.

In fact, as former Postie Alec MacGillis points out, during the Republican primary debate, Romney criticized Newt Gingrich for his plan to eliminate the capital gains tax, noting that he himself would not have paid any taxes over the last two years if such a plan were enacted.

The question now is which approach the ticket embraces. As MacGillis notes, Democrats — who have suggested there may be years that Romney hasn’t paid taxes — can argue that, under Ryan’s ideal system, there would indeed have been years in which he paid no taxes.

4. Gay adoption

Ryan has voted against allowing gay couples to adopt children, while Romney has said he is “fine” with such arrangements.

Ryan’s vote came in 1999, when the House was voting whether to allow gay adoptions in the District of Columbia. Earlier this year, Romney said of gay adoptions: “In my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that’s something that people have a right to do.” Soon, Romney clarified his remarks, noting that almost all states already allow gay adoption.

We’re not sure this is going to be anything close to a key issue in the 2012 election, though.

5. Employee Non-Discrimination Act

Ryan in 2007 voted for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation; Romney has said he thinks the matter is a state issue and he didn’t support federal legislation.

“I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be evaluated or to be implemented at the state level,” Romney said in 2007.

Again, while gay marriage may be a key issue in 2012, as with gay adoption, don’t expect to hear too much about this issue.

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report. It has been updated to clarify Ryan’s positions on abortion and the capital gains tax.

 
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