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Beyond Temperament: where the main candidates stand on the issues

October 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton


(Photo from ABC News)


Clinton’s proposal focuses on increasing the amount of revenue raised from large businesses and wealthy Americans.

First, she calls for the elimination of tax loopholes that allow wealthy individuals and businesses to pay less in taxes.

Second, her plan imposes a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on Americans making above $1 million per year, and an extra 4 percent surcharge on those making $5 million per year.

Third, Clinton’s plan also calls for increasing the “estate tax,” which taxes assets inherited after the previous owner’s death. As of 2016, the estate tax only applies when the property is worth more than about $5.5 million in total.

(Revenues: $1,550 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)


Clinton has changed her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In a 2012 address regarding the U.S.-Australia relationship, she stated that the TPP “sets the gold standard in trade agreements,” but after the text was finalized among the 12 nations, she opposed the agreement, stating that the final negotiations did not live up to her standards.

Additionally, Clinton stated that she does not support the Central America Free Trade Agreement and would like to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — both of which establish free trade among several countries.

She claims she is open to any trade agreement that would raise wages, create jobs and protect security.

(Costs unclear)


The Clinton campaign calls for comprehensive immigration reform that will provide “a pathway to full and equal citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, according to Clinton’s campaign website. Clinton also supports expanding access to Affordable Care Act exchanges to undocumented immigrants.

Clinton plans on maintaining Obama’s executive orders: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. In the event that Congress fails to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Clinton will make deferred action eligible for some undocumented immigrants with “sympathetic cases,” presumably through executive order.

Clinton opposes a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and wants to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S. from 10,000 to 65,000 (provided that all refugees are thoroughly vetted).

Health care

Clinton’s campaign primarily aims to “fix” several problems with the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, her plan recognizes a need to increase participation in the program, and lower its costs.

First, she aims to expand and promote both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as control the affordability of health plans under the ACA. Medicaid and Medicare are both social insurance systems. Both would receive significant expansions under Clinton’s plan, which lowers the required age for a senior citizen to use Medicare, and continues to offer federal funds for states to offer Medicaid for citizens whose income is up to 133 percent of the poverty line.

She also plans to decrease the costs of prescription drugs, and thus the cost to the national government. This involves boosting competition with pharmaceutical and health care companies: allowing importation of drugs and establishing “public option” health care plans in the states.

(Costs: $250 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)


Clinton’s campaign has published a plan, called the “New College Compact,” aimed at increasing the affordability of public colleges nationwide. It aims to accomplish this by wrangling the rising costs of college tuition while offering lower interest rates for college debt.

In an effort to lower the cost of college, the plan aims to offer more grants to public colleges and universities, provide free tuition for two years of community college, and forgive the debt of students coming from low-income families.

(Costs: $500 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)

National Defense

Clinton’s plan to defeat ISIS involves military campaigns, strengthening of diplomacy and keeping propaganda from reaching Americans.

Specifically, she calls for a sustained air campaign against the terrorist network, aiming to destroy their strongholds and hubs across the Middle East.

She also aims to strengthen alliances with other invested nations, and pursue the end of the Syrian war, so that the world can more effectively deal with the ISIS threat.

Finally, the plan references an initiative to “[work] with Silicon Valley to shut down terrorist propaganda online,” according to Clinton’s campaign website.

(Costs unclear)


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    Donald J. Trump

    (Photo from the Huffington Post)

    (Photo from the Huffington Post)


    Trump’s proposal seeks to generally reduce the tax rates required of most Americans, while also reducing the number of loopholes and deductions available to the wealthy.

    First, it calls for a simplification of the tax brackets by establishing three brackets, (instead of the current seven): 12, 25 and 33 percent. Trump’s plan would also cut taxes on businesses.

    Second, Trump would increase the standard deduction from $6,300 to $15,000 so that single Americans making below that number would pay nothing in federal income tax.

    Third, Trump’s plan would completely repeal the estate tax, but tax capital gains — usually gains from investments — at death.

    (Costs: $4,500 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)


    Trump himself has often pointed to the North American Free Trade Agreement as a factor leading to the death of the American manufacturing industry. As a result, he has called for a renegotiation of NAFTA or, as a last result, withdrawal from the treaty. He has also called for a withdrawal from the yet-unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    In addition, Trump has claimed aggressive trade behavior on the part of China, including currency manipulation and illegal export subsidies. His plan outlines the need to bring a case against China before the World Trade Organization for these practices, and otherwise “use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes [with China],” according to his platform.

    (Costs unclear)


    The Trump campaign has a hardline stance on immigration, especially that of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Most notably, the campaign calls for the construction of a wall, for which Mexico will pay, on the southern border of the U.S. Earlier in the election season, Trump called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants, but has since changed that to the deportation of all “criminal aliens.”

    The campaign also calls for the termination of two of President Barack Obama’s executive orders: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives legal status to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before 16 years of age, and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, which exempts the parents of American citizens or lawful permanent residents from deportation.

    In December 2015, Trump’s campaign released a statement calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” immigrating to the U.S., but has since shifted that stance; since Trump’s Ohio address regarding Islamic extremism in August 2016, the campaign now calls for a temporary suspension of immigration from regions of the world that “have a history of exporting terrorism.” The campaign also opposes allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

    Health care

    Trump’s campaign has called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, calling instead for several free-market reforms to health care policy.

    First, the campaign aims to remove economic barriers, by allowing easier entry into the health care market on the part of business, allowing health care companies to sell plans across state borders, and allowing easier importation of prescription drugs into the United States.

    Second, the campaign wants to allow tax deductions on more aspects of personal health care. This involves allowing individuals to set up a tax-free Health Savings Account, and allowing individuals to deduct payments towards health insurance premiums.

    Third, the campaign calls for issuing block grants for state health care spending, so that local governments decide how to allocate money.

    (Costs: $50 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)


    Trump’s campaign has not published a detailed plan for reducing the cost of higher education nationwide. It has, however, acknowledged the issue, and has declared it will pursue reforms requiring colleges and universities to reduce costs in “good faith.”

    Trump has instead offered revisions to current school choice policy. His campaign has published plans calling for the reallocation of $20 billion per year to a voucher program that allows parents to use their tax money on a private school education. The plan would require additional contribution of state funds towards the vouchers.

    (Budget neutral, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)

    National Defense

    Trump has called for a general expansion of the U.S. military in order to face emergent threats such as ISIS.

    The campaign calls for U.S. generals to immediately draft a plan to “defeat and destroy ISIS,” according to an address Trump gave to a Philadelphia audience in September 2016.

    Trump has not been forthcoming about the details of his ISIS plan — in an interview with the Washington Post Editorial Board, he cited the importance of being “unpredictable” in handling foreign policy. Trump’s campaign does, however, call for increased production of weapons and equipment, as well as an increase in the number of U.S. troops.

    (Costs: $450 billion over 10 years, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget)


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