Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump On The Economy

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 

As Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The United States is in an economic slump, and eager to rise up from an era that’s seen jobs lost to overseas or obsolescence. Both candidates have ideas about how to get the country back on track. Hillary focuses, among other things, on raising taxes, while Trump wants to slash them. Hillary wants to replace lost jobs; Trump wants to bring them back. Both economic plans differ radically in method, with Trump relying completely on the free market, while Hillary favors a mixture of social programs and reforms.

According to Mrs. Clinton, “The measure of our success, will be how much incomes rise for hardworking Americans.” Instead of “good-paying jobs, millions of Americans are stuck with low-paying work.” She plans to help the shrinking middle class by lowering their taxes; making college affordable (part of her five-part economic plan, i.e., tuition-free for in-state schools; jacking the minimum wage from $7.25 to a livable $12 an hour), supporting unions by “protecting collective bargaining rights and strengthen America’s labor movement,” “because that helped build the middle class in the first place“; rebuilding our infrastructure (another component of her five-part plan for the economy), thus creating good construction, transportation, and building jobs; investing in clean energy; and lowering childcare costs to no more than 10% of a family’s wages.

Her economic plan has five parts. The first includes passing, within the first 100 days, a sweeping jobs bill to invest in “infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, clean energy, and small businesses.” That means creating more jobs “by actually investing in putting people to work to build and maintain our roads, our bridges, our airports.” She’ll veto trade bills that don’t create enough high-paying jobs, and make the United States the “clean energy superpower of the world.”

The second part of her plan would make college debt-free for all Americans, and help alleviate the crushing burden of student loans that many millennials face. Third, she would “rewrite the rules so that more companies share profits with employees — and fewer ship profits and jobs overseas.” This provision would include raising the minimum wage. As she said in July, “Inequality is too high, wages are too low, and it’s too hard to get ahead.” In addition, Hillary “will crack down on companies that shift profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and she’ll make companies that export jobs give back the tax breaks they’ve received in America.”

Fourth, Hillary will raise taxes on corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street. This will include imposing “a new surcharge on multi-millionaires and billionaires.” According to Clinton, “The financial industry and many multi-national corporations have created huge wealth for the few by focusing too much on short-term profit and too little on long-term value.” In Charlotte, just before handing the mic to President Obama, she said that “we need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.” Finally, she’ll fight for family-friendly reforms that include guaranteed paid leave and wage parity for women. She’ll also help with the costs of housing and childcare, and help Americans have “greater retirement and health care security.” “I’ll help parents balance work and family,” she claims.

As she said in a joint campaign event with Obama, “Inequality is too high, wages are too low, and it is too hard to get ahead.”

On his campaign site, Trump claims that “all economic policy must be geared towards making it easier to hire, invest, build, grow and produce in America — creating a level playing field for our workers and businesses in global competition, and creating jobs here, not overseas.” Trump said in September 2016 that the key to economic growth is to “reform the tax code and trade policies to make it easier to hire, invest, build, grow, produce, and manufacture in America.” He wants to “stop China from stealing our jobs, renegotiate NAFTA [which helps his popularity among disaffected, unemployed manufacturing workers, such as those in the steel industry], cut unneeded regulations and make America the best place in the world to do business.”

Trump has a four-pronged plan to fix the American economy. First, as his campaign site says, he wants to reform the tax code: “simplify taxes and streamline deductions; lower taxes for everyone; dramatically reduce the income tax; exclude childcare expenses from taxation; limit taxation of business income to 15%”; dramatically drop our corporate tax; and end the so-called death tax. The Tax Policy Center says of his plan that “the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households.” Moreover, “the plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over its first decade […]. [U]nless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts.” HIs childcare reforms would benefit mostly the families who need them the least.

Trump believes that excessive regulation helps “push jobs overseas, reduce wages, and create a smaller economy for everyone.” He would review every regulatory agency and cut regulations that inhibit job growth. Especially targeted are the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which pushes investment in green energy; the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule; and the Department of the Interior’s moratorium on new coal mining permits. “We’re going to eliminate job-killing regulations,” Trump said in Colorado in July. He harped on the same theme in May: “Any future regulation will go through a simple test: Is it good for the American worker?”

Trump also vows trade reform. He would renegotiate NAFTA, and like Hillary, would withdraw from the TPP (he claims she would not). He would label China a currency manipulator: “This should have been done years ago,” he said in June. He would apply tariff and duties to countries that cheat, and “direct the commerce department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.” He claims our $800 billion trade deficit costs the United States jobs, destroying the manufacturing sector and particularly hurting those under 25 without a high school diploma. This “leads to poverty and an increased demand on social services.” His solution to social ills is jobs, not a hand up. He believes firmly in the bootstrap metaphor.

Finally, Trump’s energy reform would basically repeal “all the job-destroying executive actions” including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. He would revive the notoriously dirty coal industry, “make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas” (where the Deepwater Horizon spill happened), “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement […] and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global warming programs, [and] lift restrictions on American energy,” which he claims would increase wages, economic output, GDP, and tax revenues.

Trump says that he will “create jobs like you’ve never seen,” in part by bringing them back from China and Mexico.

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