Where Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican Joe
Kyrillos, a state senator trying to unseat him, say they stand on a
selection of issues.

Senator Bob Menendez (Ramin Talaie, Getty Images)

Kyrillos wants to cut the top business tax rate to 25 percent from its current 35 percent and to reduce all individual tax rates by 20 percent over time. Unlike many Republican candidates, he has not signed a no-tax-hike pledge.

Menendez opposes both extending current tax breaks for the wealthy and giving them new ones, saying such breaks increase the size of the government's spending deficit. (President Barack Obama wants to let George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire on income after the first $200,000 earned by individuals, the first $250,000 made by
married couples.)


Menendez said he supports pay-as-you-go rules that would require
lawmakers to reduce spending elsewhere or raise taxes to pay for
any new initiatives. He said he wants to eliminate what he calls
"unnecessary taxpayer handouts to big oil companies" and
subsidies for corn ethanol, to consolidate "duplicative"
government programs and change tax policies so that insurance
companies will not send revenues to other countries to avoid U.S.

Kyrillos supports capping federal spending at 20 percent of the
gross domestic product and a balanced-budget amendment that would
require the federal government to spend no more than it brings in
each year.


Joe Kyrillos announces his candidacy for US Senate (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

Menendez voted for the 2010 health insurance overhaul championed by Obama. Menendez touts portions of the law that allow children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they turn 26, bar insurers from dumping customers because they get sick and offer
free services such as annual wellness appointments and flus shots for senior citizens.

Kyrillos wants to repeal the law and instead put in place a system in which employees would receive tax credits they could use to buy health insurance on their own, enabling workers to take their insurance with them when they leave a job.


With the Social Security system projected to be solvent until
2033, Menendez said there is no need to rush to major action now,
and he opposes any move toward privatization.

Kyrillos wants to let people choose between a guaranteed
traditional Social Security plan or coverage from a private
insurer. He supports raising the retirement age to receive full
Social Security and Medicare benefits to 67 for people who are
currently younger than 55.

Under current law, the full retirement age is being raised already but gradually and slightly more slowly
than Kyrillos proposes. He also wants to see benefits lowered or contributions raised for higher-income people.


Both candidates say climate change is a real problem, humans are
a cause of it and the government has a role in trying to curb it.

Kyrillos says environmental policies need to be crafted so they
do not harm the economy.


Kyrillos says that the U.S. should take a different diplomatic
track in the Middle East. He criticized Obama for declining to meet
recently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He says
the U.S. should make top priorities of demonstrating its commitment
to Israel and of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Menendez also gives similar goals for the region -- but without
criticizing Obama. He says the U.S. needs to help build democracies
in Libya and Tunisia and nurture "prospects for peace" between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority while responding to threats
from Syria and Iran.


Kyrillos says his interest in fostering bipartisan cooperation
and ending gridlock is one reason he won't sign a pledge not to
raise taxes. He also says he would work with Democrats and the

Menendez says he wants to change Senate filibuster rules to make
it harder for a minority of the Senate to keep a majority from
passing legislation. He said the Senate should limit the number of
filibusters for each bill and require filibustering senators to
engage in debate, not just delay action.


Kyrillos supports civil unions, which offer the legal benefits
and protections of marriage to gay couples, but are not technically
marriages. New Jersey offers same-sex couples civil unions. But
Kyrillos said decisions about whether to allow same-sex marriage
should be left to individual states.

Menendez wants to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act,
which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.


Kyrillos said he favors restrictions such as parental
notification, a waiting period and a ban on late-term abortions.

Menendez opposes any further restrictions on abortion.


Both candidates say they want New Jersey to be allowed to
legalize sports gambling. As a state senator, Kyrillos voted in
favor of a law to do so, and Menendez says he supports it because
it would boost the economy of Atlantic City. New Jersey lawmakers
passed a bill in January to allow sports gambling, even though the
state does not have a federal waiver to do so. State officials plan
to plow ahead with the program, even as major sports leagues
challenge the state in court.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
APNP 10-03-12 1854E