Clinton and Trump: The candidates’ positions
The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most fiercely fought—and divisive—in modern American history. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are both polarizing figures with record-setting unfavorable ratings. Though Trump’s positions on most issues have been vague and changeable, it’s clear the two candidates would take the country in dramatically different directions.
With that in mind, here’s a look at where the candidates stand on 10 important issues.
Clinton has vowed to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill within her first 100 days in office. She says border security has already been enhanced, giving us “the most secure border we have ever had.” Clinton wants to provide a path to legalization for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants; she will prioritize deporting only those who commit violent crimes. Trump’s proposals on immigration are among his most detailed policy positions. He has promised to deport a large percentage of the 11 million, focusing on those who’ve overstayed their visas or who have committed any crimes. To prevent further crossings, he plans to build a massive wall along more than 1,000 miles of the Mexican–U.S. border and somehow force Mexico to pay for it. Trump has also said he would triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, crack down on those who overstay a visa, and end sanctuary cities. He’s also pledged to block accepting refugees from Syria and other countries with “a proven history of terrorism,” saying only those who undergo an “extreme vetting” of their political and religious views should be admitted.
The Supreme Court
The next president could drastically remake the composition of the Supreme Court, filling as many as four vacancies over the next four years. Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat has remained unoccupied since he died in February, and three other justices—liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and swing-vote Anthony Kennedy—are in their late 70s or early 80s. The Republican leadership in the Senate has refused to consider President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, a center-left appellate court judge many GOP lawmakers supported in the past. Clinton has not said whether she would stick with Garland if she’s elected, but has promised to look “broadly and widely for people who represent the diversity of our country” when picking potential replacements. Her nominees are sure to share her progressive values. Trump has said he would look for nominees in the mold of Scalia, a constitutional “originalist” who said justices should base their rulings on the language and intent of the Founding Fathers and lawmakers. In May, Trump released a short list of 11 potential picks that included former clerks for Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas, another conservative stalwart. Trump recently added 11 more conservatives to that list.
In the past, the GOP nominee has praised the idea of a singlepayer system and said health care is a right. But as a candidate, Trump has called the Affordable Care Act “a disaster,” “horrendous,” and an “incredible economic burden,” and has vowed to ask Congress to repeal the ACA on the first day of his presidency. He says he will replace it with “a great health-care plan,” but hasn’t explained in any detail what it will be, or how many of the 20 million people insured through Obamacare would lose their insurance. One hint: He has proposed allowing people to deduct health-insurance premiums they buy from their income tax, as a way of subsidizing a more free-market approach. Like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Trump favors a block grant approach to Medicaid, meaning he would give a pot of money to each state to use at its discretion. In contrast, Clinton wants to build on Obamacare and fix its flaws by putting more money into subsidizing premiums, so that more young, healthy people sign up. The Democratic nominee would also offer Americans a “public option” health-care plan, and expand Medicare to allow those ages 55 and older to opt into the program.
Energy and climate change
Trump wants to unleash “a treasure trove of untapped energy” by reviving the coal industry, opening up more federal land and offshore waters to drilling, and overturning environmental regulations designed to limit pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. He has dismissed climate change as a Chinese plot “to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive,” and said he’d seek to “cancel” the international Paris climate agreement. Clinton says climate change is a major threat to the world, and pledges to turn the U.S. into the world’s “clean energy superpower.” She has proposed ending subsidies to oil and gas companies, subsidizing the purchase of 500 million solar panels for homes and businesses, and upgrading the electrical grid to handle more wind, solar, and geothermal power. Clinton would uphold the Paris accord and seek to put the U.S. on a path to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2025.
As first lady during her husband’s presidency and then as a senator for New York, Clinton was a strong proponent of federal gun regulations. In this campaign, she has positioned herself as the “gun violence prevention” candidate. She supports reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons, requiring background checks to be completed before any gun sale goes through, and mandating these checks for gun-show sales (which are now exempted). The Democrat also wants to repeal a law that shields gun makers from liability, and pass a law banning those on the no-fly list and domestic abusers from buying firearms. Trump’s stance on gun control also has evolved through the years. The Republican nominee wrote in 2000 that though he generally opposed gun control, he supported the assault-weapon ban passed by Congress in 1994 and was in favor of longer waiting periods. Today, he’s ardently pro–Second Amendment, calling gun control laws and gun-free zones “a total failure.” He wants to allow people to carry guns at schools and on military bases, and to require all 50 states to honor concealed-carry permits from other states. He told a meeting of the National Rifle Association in May, “The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know, named Donald Trump.”
Clinton is strongly pro-choice and has advocated for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal Medicaid dollars to fund abortions. In June, she pointedly chose to make her first real general election speech about reproductive rights, and told supporters, “I’ve been proud to stand with Planned Parenthood for a long time, and as president, I will always have your back.” Despite declaring in 1999 that he’s “very prochoice,” Trump says he has “evolved” on the issue and is now “totally against abortion,” except to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape or incest. Trump promises to choose pro-life justices for the Supreme Court and defund Planned Parenthood if it doesn’t stop performing abortions. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has promised that the Roe v. Wade decision will be “consigned to the ash heap of history” if Trump is elected.
Clinton’s tax proposal is designed to raise revenue for infrastructure spending and expanded social programs, and would hike taxes on high-income households. Her proposals include a 4 percent “fair-share surcharge” on taxpayers making more than $5 million a year, the closure of a number of loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to shelter their money in tax havens, and a 30 percent minimum tax rate on households making at least $2 million a year. She also plans to crack down on corporate inversions, the practice of moving a company’s headquarters overseas to avoid taxes in the United States, and earnings stripping, which allows multinationals to move their profits to countries with lower tax rates. Trump, on the other hand, promises the “biggest tax reform since Reagan.” He would cut the number of brackets from seven to three and drop the rate for the highest earners from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. Under a Trump presidency, the estate tax would be eliminated, and the top federal corporate tax rate, which currently stands at 35 percent, would drop to 15 percent.
Clinton’s education plan includes policy prescriptions for every stage of development. She wants to establish universal preschool and double the government’s investment in Early Head Start. Regarding K-12 education, Clinton says overly punitive disciplinary measures have helped create a “school-to-prison pipeline” that damages impoverished communities. She wants to spend $2 billion to give schools the resources to expand behavioral support programs and help nonviolent problem students rather than punishing them with suspensions. Clinton also wants to make tuition at in-state, four-year public colleges and universities free for families earning less than $125,000. Trump has proposed $20 billion in federal grants to support school choice for low-income families. The money would be dispersed to the states, which would then distribute the funds based on where the children were enrolling. Trump says he would eliminate Common Core, the K-12 academic standards developed by a coalition of state education leaders, calling that program “a total disaster.”
Trump has advocated imposing tariffs on imports to level the playing field for American companies. On an American car company that moved its production to Mexico, he would levy a 35 percent tax. For goods from China, he has proposed imposing a tariff as high as 45 percent—though he later said he might simply threaten to impose large tariffs to make other nations play by the rules. Trump has also indicated he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement—or withdraw from it altogether—to get a “better deal” for U.S. workers. As first lady, Clinton supported NAFTA and other trade agreements, but once she became a U.S. senator, her record on free trade was mixed. She voted against the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement but supported several bilateral trade agreements, including ones with Singapore, Australia, and Oman. Both Clinton and Trump say they are against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal that would eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs. As secretary of state, Clinton praised the TPP as “the gold standard in trade agreements.” She changed that position during her bruising primary fight with Bernie Sanders, who like Trump blames trade deals for taking American jobs.
Both Trump and Clinton pledge to roo t out terrorists and defeat ISIS. In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Clinton called for “an intelligence surge” to identify radicalized people in the U.S. She says she’ll continue the war against ISIS and other terrorist groups with a mix of airstrikes, support for local forces, and diplomacy. Trump says he has “a secret plan” to defeat ISIS that he will not reveal so as not to tip off the terrorists, and occasionally vows to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” and “take the oil.” In dealing with other conflicts, Trump has refused to take the use of nuclear weapons off the table and said the U.S. should support more nations—including Japan and Saudi Arabia—becoming nuclear powers so that the U.S. doesn’t have to shoulder the financial burden for their defense.