It’s 12 weeks before Election Day. That means we have 12 weeks to talk about who is going to be the next President of the United States. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Every Tuesday for the next 12 weeks, I will write about an issue relevant to this election. I will gather facts, present them, and then talk about them. Research and analysis, rolled into one, for your viewing pleasure. You may disagree, but I guarantee you’ll come away knowing more than you did when you entered.
I will treat Mrs. Clinton, Herr Trump, Mr. Johnson, and Dr. Stein equally. I’ll try not to allow polling to enter the equation. The four candidates’ opinions, quotes, policy ideas, and stances on issues will be presented as though they each have an equal chance at winning the election.
Finally, I’ll try to keep this a controversy-free zone. If you want to know the latest crazy thing someone said, it’s out there for you. I want this to be an issues-only presentation. Government isn’t entertainment, policy discussions are boring, but I think they are vital to our process so that’s what I’ll do.
Ready? Let’s go. This is gonna be fun, I think. We’ll go alphabetical.
- Political Party: Democrat
- Website: hillaryclinton.com
- Hobbies: Being Awkward on TV
- Secret Service Code Name: “Bill”
Hillary covers 17 different economic issues on her website, far more than the other candidates and with much more detail behind each one. This isn’t surprising. She lives for policy stuff. So what is she actually promising?
In short, she wants to be Robin Hood, there’s really no other way to put it. She’ll increase taxes on the rich and close corporate tax loopholes, then turn that money into programs designed to help small businesses and middle-class Americans.
Specifically, there’s a 4% “Fair Share Surcharge” on any American making more than $5 million a year. That’s 0.02% of the population, or about 65,000 dudes. She’s also a proponent of the “Buffet Rule” (named for Gazillionaire Warren Buffet, who also happens to have endorsed her publicly) which would ensure millionaires would pay at least a 30% effective tax rate. In addition to tax increases for individuals, she also talks a lot about creating an Exit Tax for companies that leave the U.S. to set up shop and enjoy un-taxed earnings in Bermuda or wherever.
Overall, she claims that these revenue increase plans will combine to raise between $400 to $500 billion over ten years. She’ll then use that to do things like reward companies that stay in the U.S., including a $10 billion “Make it in America Partnership.”
But here’s the thing.
She has SO MANY ideas and they’re all smart, but whenever she talks about how she’s going to fund them (which is rare), she keeps going back to the same revenue increases mentioned above. For example, she talks a lot about infrastructure improvements, but doesn’t mention a clear plan to fund it, only a brief reference to “seeding a national infrastructure bank,” which she claims will leverage private capital. Unfortunately, no details are to be found.
Then there’s the “New College Compact,” which would:
- allow students to attend a 4-year public college without taking loans for tuition,
- allow anyone to attend community college tuition-free,
- push states to re-invest and schools to reduce costs and raise graduation rates, and
- reward innovation that makes a real difference in student outcomes (which is almost too vague to mention.)
The New College Compact will cost $350 billion over ten years. Where does the money come from? Closing those loopholes mentioned above.
Here’s another example: She wants to guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and promises businesses won’t have to cover the cost. That’s awesome! How will she pay for it? Oh. Right.
So, unless I’m missing something (and let’s be clear, I am SURE that I am missing something), this sounds like a lot of promise without a lot of possibility.
- Political Party: Libertarian
- Website: johnsonweld.com
- Hobbies: Vetoing things. Triathlons.
- Previous Occupations: Republican Governor of New Mexico. CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc.
- Secret Service Code Name: “Doob”
Johnson’s main economic focus is balancing the budget. He says he wants to cut federal expenditures by 43% “across the board.” He feels federal spending is a generally ludicrous notion. He also wants to ban the income tax. Like, completely. He would replace it with a national consumption tax on goods and services. Which he says will totally work.
The key, I think, to Gary Johnson, is that he is willing to cut military spending and reform entitlements, and that’s something that no major party candidate could ever, ever, ever say. We may agree that the deficit is out of control, but congress won’t do anything about it because they’re too petrified to touch military spending, Social Security, and Medicare. Why are those three things such a big deal? Here’s what we spent in 2015:
Don’t worry if you can’t read the text, just know that the big dark blue, orange, and yellow slices of the pie are military spending, Medicare, and Social Security. When Congress talks about debt and spending, they only talk about the other, tiny slivers of pie. They do that because 1) Senior Citizens like their Social Security and Medicare, and they’re still the only people in this God damn country who actually vote, and 2) GOD FORBID you come out in favor of cutting military spending. This is MURICA. MURICA STRONG. That’s why nothing gets done. Well, it’s one of many reasons.
But Johnson isn’t afraid to put those things on the table. It’s a tough sell. But if you’re one of these people who is serious about real change in this country, this might be your guy.
Or, he would be, if were actually offering up any concrete solutions. Remember that whole 43% expenditure decrease proposal? There is NOTHING specific about it. Closing military bases? Sure. Which ones? Umm… Ending Social Security benefits for the wealthy? Great, how wealthy are we talking? And when would we do it? Ummm….
You got three months, Gary. Get to work.
- Political Party: Green
- Website: jill2016.com
- Political Experience: Co-Chair, Recycling Committee, Lexington, Mass.
- Hobbies: Running for things, losing.
- Previous Occupation: Doctor, Folk Musician
- Musical Instruments of Choice: Guitar, Conga, Djembe
- Secret Service Code Name: “Djembe”
So Jill Stein is green. Like, really green. Green, green, green. She’s anti-war, pro-single-payer healthcare, 100% renewable energy. She makes Bernie Sanders look like Montgomery Burns.
Economically speaking, Stein wants to enact the “Green New Deal.” It’s not a new idea, it’s one she has championed for years. She would cut 30% (I’ve also read 50%) of the military budget to enact it. The Green New Deal transitions the U.S. to 100% renewable energy by 2030. That means every job related to fossil fuels, fracking, drilling, (gas stations presumably), nuclear power, would become a solar, wind, or other renewable job. The magnitude of that undertaking is unfathomable, impractical, probably impossible. But it’s bold. There are certainly no half measures with this one.
She also says she wants to replace unemployment offices with employment offices, and that the unemployed would have an “enforceable right to make government provide work.” I literally have no idea what she’s talking about, and she doesn’t explain it at all.
It’s pretty clear that Stein had a chance to sweep up Bernie Sanders’ supporters and make a real third party push. But she’s just too…green. She has squandered almost every opportunity provided to her. For a medical professional, she often displays a tenuous grasp on science. She has turned Bernie’s message of hope into a petty display of anger and frustration. She’s also anti-vaccine and, oddly enough, anti Wi-Fi. But this piece is supposed to be about the economy, so let’s get to our final candidate.
- Political Party: Republican
- Website: donaldjtrump.com
- Words he Knows: The best words.
- Hobbies: Being sued.
- Likes: …?
- Dislikes: Mexicans, Muslims, Gays, Blacks, Poor People, Losers, Haters, Hillary, The Media, Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Soldiers dumb enough to get captured, Mitt Romney, Polls, Vaccines, Harrisburg, Iowa, Wisconsin, Sexual Assault Victims, Babies, People with Disabilities, Civil Discourse, Measured Responses, Learning New Things.
- Secret Service Code Name: [they’re still debating whether or not to protect him]
So here’s Donald Trump on the economy, according to his website’s “Economic Vision” section. First taxes:
- Cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.
- Simplify the income tax from seven brackets to three. (No detail on his site, but I read they would be 12%, 25%, and 33%.)
- Exclude child care expenses from taxation.
- End the Estate Tax.
So that takes away a lot of money coming into the government. How does he make it back so as to not increase the deficit? He doesn’t say specifically, but he does talk a lot about regulation reform. All that government red tape that’s ruining the country. Here’s the plan:
- A temporary pause on new regulations and an examination on old ones to see which need to be “scrapped.”
- Require each federal agency to rank their regulations from most critical to least critical. Fun!
- Remove “bureaucrats who kill jobs” and replace them with “experts who create jobs.”
- Pretty much wipe out the EPA and the Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits.
And that’s pretty much it. Almost 1,700 words, and that’s as specific as it gets. He does, however, mention Hillary 19 times.
This one just doesn’t add up. If he implements his tax plan, he’ll have to cut Government spending by about 20% or the deficit will skyrocket. And I just don’t see any specifics laid out to accomplish that.
If anything, he actually wants to increase Government spending. He’s mentioned increasing spending on Veteran’s Healthcare and the Military, and then there’s that big wall if Mexico politely declines to pay for it. The whole thing is kind of a disaster. And that’s before we get into his whole trade protectionism thing!
So there you go. First issue covered. That wasn’t so boring, was it?
See you next week. 🙂