Explainer: What did the presidential candidates say about the economy?
Acton Institute Powerblog

Explainer: What did the presidential candidates say about the economy?

trump-clinton-debateLast night Chris Wallace moderated the third and final debate of this presidential season. Many commentators have remarked that it was the most substantial policy debate of the year. But because of the interruptions and recriminations, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what each candidate was proposing.

Below I’ve summarized the actual policy statements made by each candidate about the economy, and included the verbatim text of their remarks from which the summary is taken. In the summaries (the sections in bold), I’ve stripped away the claims made by each candidate about the other and focused solely on the position they advocated or defended.

Hillary Clinton on the economy:

Create a jobs program that focuses on infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and clean energy.

Well, I think when the middle class thrives, America thrives. And so my plan is based on growing the economy, giving middle-class families many more opportunities. I want us to have the biggest jobs program since World War II, jobs in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing. I think we can compete with high-wage countries, and I believe we should. New jobs and clean energy, not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new businesses.

Proposes to raise the minimum wage and ensure women get equal pay for equal work.

I want us to do more to help small business. That’s where two- thirds of the new jobs are going to come from. I want us to raise the national minimum wage, because people who live in poverty should not — who work full-time should not still be in poverty. And I sure do want to make sure women get equal pay for the work we do.

Increase apprenticeships and technical education in high school and community colleges; have the government pay for college for all families that earn less than $125,000.

I feel strongly that we have to have an education system that starts with preschool and goes through college. That’s why I want more technical education in high schools and in community colleges, real apprenticeships to prepare young people for the jobs of the future. I want to make college debt-free and for families making less than $125,000, you will not get a tuition bill from a public college or university if the plan that I worked on with Bernie Sanders is enacted.

Increase taxes on corporations and high income on households earning more than $250,000.

And we’re going to work hard to make sure that it is, because we are going to go where the money is. Most of the gains in the last years since the Great Recession have gone to the very top. So we are going to have the wealthy pay their fair share. We’re going to have corporations make a contribution greater than they are now to our country.

[…]

I have said repeatedly throughout this campaign: I will not raise taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less.

Clinton claims her plan would produce 10 million new jobs.

That is a plan that has been analyzed by independent experts which said that it could produce 10 million new jobs. By contrast, Donald’s plan has been analyzed to conclude it might lose 3.5 million jobs. Why? Because his whole plan is to cut taxes, to give the biggest tax breaks ever to the wealthy and to corporations, adding $20 trillion to our debt, and causing the kind of dislocation that we have seen before, because it truly will be trickle-down economics on steroids.

So the plan I have I think will actually produce greater opportunities. The plan he has will cost us jobs and possibly lead to another Great Recession.

Claims that her policies will not add to the national debt.

I also will not add a penny to the debt.

Decrease the national budget deficit by increased government investment (i.e., stimulus spending).

We know how to get control of the debt. When my husband was president, we went from a $300 billion deficit to a $200 billion surplus and we were actually on the path to eliminating the national debt. When President Obama came into office, he inherited the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. He has cut the deficit by two-thirds.

So, yes, one of the ways you go after the debt, one of the ways you create jobs is by investing in people. So I do have investments, investments in new jobs, investments in education, skill training, and the opportunities for people to get ahead and stay ahead. That’s the kind of approach that will work.

[…]

So what I am proposing is that we invest from the middle out and the ground up, not the top down. That is not going to work.

That’s why what I have put forward doesn’t add a penny to the debt, but it is the kind of approach that will enable more people to take those new jobs, higher-paying jobs. We’re beginning to see some increase in incomes, and we certainly have had a long string of increasing jobs. We’ve got to do more to get the whole economy moving, and that’s what I believe I will be able to do.

Opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Well, first, let me say, number one, when I saw the final agreement for TPP, I said I was against it. It didn’t meet my test. I’ve had the same test. Does it create jobs, raise incomes, and further our national security? I’m against it now. I’ll be against it after the election. I’ll be against it when I’m president.

Opposes “illegal dumping of steel and aluminum” into American markets.

And, you know, one of the biggest problems we have with China is the illegal dumping of steel and aluminum into our markets. I have fought against that as a senator. I’ve stood up against it as secretary of state.

Proposes to create a “trade prosecutor” to enforce trade agreements.

We’re going to have trade agreements that we enforce. That’s why I’m going to have a trade prosecutor for the first time in history. And we’re going to enforce those agreements, and we’re going to look for businesses to help us by buying American products.

Increase Social Security contributions (most likely by raising the cap) and tax the wealthy to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund.

Well, Chris, I am on record as saying that we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund. That’s part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it. But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund…

Donald Trump on the economy:

Provides an unspecific proposal on helping families pay for college tuition.

Well, first of all, before I start on my plan, her plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes. Her tax plan is a disaster. And she can say all she wants about college tuition. And I’m a big proponent. We’re going to do a lot of things for college tuition. But the rest of the public’s going to be paying for it.

Increase free trade by renegotiation of trade agreements with foreign countries.

So my plan — we’re going to renegotiate trade deals. We’re going to have a lot of free trade. We’re going to have free trade, more free trade than we have right now. But we have horrible deals. Our jobs are being taken out by the deal that her husband signed, NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever. Our jobs are being sucked out of our economy.

Plans to renegotiate or terminate NAFTA.

I am going to renegotiate NAFTA. And if I can’t make a great deal — then we’re going to terminate NAFTA and we’re going to create new deals. We’re going to have trade, but we’re going — we’re going to terminate it, we’re going to make a great trade deal.

Proposes to implement substantial tax cuts.

We are going to cut taxes massively. We’re going to cut business taxes massively.

Opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Now she wants to sign Trans-Pacific Partnership. And she wants it. She lied when she said she didn’t call it the gold standard in one of the debates. She totally lied. She did call it the gold standard. And they actually fact checked, and they said I was right. I was so honored.

Supports making it more difficult for American businesses to obtain steel produced overseas.

For 30 years, you’ve been in a position to help, and if you say that I use steel or I use something else, I — make it impossible for me to do that. I wouldn’t mind.

Proposes to increase economic growth to between 4 and 6 percent.

Well, I say they’re wrong, because I’m going to create tremendous jobs. And we’re bringing GDP from, really, 1 percent, which is what it is now, and if she got in, it will be less than zero. But we’re bringing it from 1 percent up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent.

Proposes having businesspeople negotiate America’s trade deals.

We’ve had people that are political hacks making the biggest deals in the world, bigger than companies. You take these big companies, these trade deals are far bigger than these companies, and yet we don’t use our great leaders, many of whom back me and many of whom back Hillary, I must say. But we don’t use those people. Those are the people — these are the greatest negotiators in the world. We have the greatest businesspeople in the world. We have to use them to negotiate our trade deals.

Proposes repealing and replacing Obamacare.

And one thing we have to do: Repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. It’s destroying our country. It’s destroying our businesses, our small business and our big businesses. We have to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).