Despite all the rumours circulating about Hillary Clinton’s health and whether Donald Trump is really just a secret Democratic operative, elections usually come down to the economy. Jobs, income, taxes, trade – the things that most people are concerned about – are usually what dictate election outcomes. Below we take a look at where each candidate stands on key economic issues.
Donald Trump has made it clear that he intends to “make America great again.” This includes calling for large tax cuts, revisiting trade deals and embracing more infrastructure spending. The sunny side of all these proposed actions is more jobs and higher incomes for the average American.
Hillary Clinton’s proposals have been much more elaborate and quantifiable, including increasing spending on job training, post-secondary education and infrastructure. She backs so-called clean energy, which could create jobs in the renewable energy sector. She has also vowed to raise taxes on upper-income earners.
Trump has made trade and globalization the centre of his campaign, even going as far as supporting tariffs to protect American industries from unfair competition. Trump has singled out China as a major source of unfair trading advantage. The Republican candidate isn’t enthusiastic about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and has pressured Clinton to rule out her support of the lofty trade pact.
Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped on the TPP question, appearing to support it as secretary of state before renouncing it on the campaign trail. The Democrats have remained purposely vague on the TPP question, giving them enough flexibility to win over some support from the business community.
Donald Trump has stated very clearly that he is in favour of a major tax cut. His proposed plan includes lowering the top individual tax rate and repealing the estate tax. He would also reduce the corporate tax rate by more than half. After it’s all said and done, Trump’s tax reforms would forgo some $9.5 trillion in revenue over the next ten years.
Hillary Clinton has proposed an elaborate tax scheme composed mostly of tax hikes on high-income earners and reduced rates for businesses that share profits with their workers. The Democratic candidate also seeks to increase capital gains taxes and limit deductions for high-income households. However, there are significant holes in her plan pertaining to a proposed middle-class tax break and business tax reform.
Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants to get rid of America’s $19 trillion debt. He hasn’t stated how he will do it, except for boosting economic growth. While higher growth would allow the US government to pay off the national debt, Trump’s plan for boosting the economy remains vague. The Republican candidate at one point indicated that he would consider renegotiating the debt before backtracking. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he described the debt as “absolutely sacred.”
Hillary Clinton has criticized Donald Trump for putting together proposals that would worsen the budget deficit. It’s too bad she hasn’t actually outlined a specific plan for balancing the budget. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Clinton’s spending and tax policies would ensure that the national debt remains unchanged.
Infrastructure is top of mind for Donald Trump, who has promised a “trillion-dollar rebuilding program” to fix up American roads, bridges, water systems, power grids and airports. He has also vowed to collect more taxes from energy producers by lifting restrictions on oil and gas output. All of this, according to Trump, will be accomplished faster and for less money.
Hillary Clinton has vowed to implement a $275 billion infrastructure plan within her first 100 days in the White House. This plan would be funded by new revenues from business tax reforms. She would also set up a $25 billion infrastructure bank to ensure continued funding.
Donald Trump is “not an enemy” of the Federal Reserve, but has indicated a desire to replace current Governor Janet Yellen with a Republican. He also favours low interest rates, “unless inflation rears its ugly head, which can happen at some point.”
Although Hillary Clinton has not commented specifically on Fed interest rate policy, she has called for reforming central bank governance. This includes, among other things, getting bankers off the boards of regional Fed banks. Once appointed, Clinton has vowed to implement “unwavering oversight” of the financial sector. She intends to do this by appointing more government bureaucrats.
These are just some of the major debates that could dictate the November 8 election. According to the latest election polls, Hillary Clinton owns a narrow two-point lead over Trump, based on the National Polling Average. However, Trump is gaining momentum, and has narrowed the gap significantly over the past month.
 The New York Times (September 20, 2016). Latest Election polls 2016.