Election issue profile: Economic growth

| Forum Editor

In the next 9 weeks, the Forum section will be profiling the most pressing economic, political and social issues of the 2016 presidential race. We will examine the views of the top three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Donald Trump—to give students an inside view on who and what we will be voting for (or against) in the upcoming election.

Economic growth. Perhaps the biggest buzzword in the 2016 presidential race. It influences everything from our personal political affiliations to America’s global interests, such as finding ways to keep manufacturing jobs on American soil and gaining access to rare Pokemon only available outside the U.S. Our national gross domestic product growth continues to be a crucial component of the solution to reducing our deficit, eliminating unemployment and creating more jobs for the American people. So what do our candidates think?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s path toward economic growth is encompassed by two “heh-uuuuugee” solutions: Cut taxes and create jobs. He has touted a massive cut in taxes for large businesses, from 39 to 15 percent (In Donald Trump math, that’s like, 7,000 percent!) The goal of this decrease would be to encourage more corporations to stay in the United States (not Ch-iiiii-nah, as Trump might proclaim). By becoming friendlier with big business, Trump hopes see our GDP skyrocket from the influx of new business.

In addition, we’ve all heard Trump talk about bringing jobs back to America. On one side, he is very invested in eliminating governmental restrictions on energy output: By mining for more natural gas, coal and oil in North America, Trump hopes that corporations will be able to employ more Americans. The Donald has also published an ambitious plan to rein in China’s suspect business practices and reestablish patent laws being broken by Chinese corporations. But perhaps, more controversially, Trump’s plan to identify and deport illegal immigrants (mainly those of Latino heritage) is supposed to return jobs to American citizens. These initiatives all have a common aim of protecting and growing our economy (with a varying number of political supports for each of Trump’s policies). But you have to wonder…how many angry neighbors will we have after Trump begins his international manhunt for American jobs?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has a lot of smaller policy initiatives she hopes to implement that promote, “fair,”“long-term” economic growth. Included in this long list is a short-term capital gains tax on shareholder returns in publicly traded corporations (long protested by the GOP). That’s a lot of words telling the stock market to stop pulling a “Wolf of Wall Street” on all of us by hogging profits. By putting lower taxes on assets held for longer periods of time, she wants to encourage sustainable, growth-focused investment. On a scale of 1-10, I’d say Jordan Belfort would rate it a near zero and Tim Kaine would give it a, “Hugely enthusiastic soccer dad cheer” that makes everyone kind of uncomfortable.

Clinton also has ambitions to implement a minimum wage of $15, make college more accessible to financially challenged students and create a national “infrastructure bank” to make improvements to our decaying roads, bridges and public transit systems. It’s a classic democratic concept with a moderate flair. John Oliver might give her some respect for trying to fix all our public infrastructure (seeing as he pointed out that the Golden Gate Bridge might actually fall without the help of a Hollywood blockbuster). By making financial improvements for the middle class and small businesses, Clinton aims to have the upper class provide more governmental revenue and give the middle class more jobs, increased access to government programs and a fairer economic system.

Gary Johnson

Gary! My long lost uncle Gary! Polling at double digits and his plan for economic growth is…get rid of income and corporate taxes. Hell, for good measure, let’s make the government smaller and throw away decades of environmental regulations! Gary Johnson takes your favorite economic buzzword “laissez faire” to the next level. Institute a flat tax, let the free market work its magic and viola, America’s economic problems are solved. Unfortunately, his taxation plan would put relatively more pressure on poorer Americans and the cut in government spending could lead to the elimination of many crucial federal programs.

Which candidate has the most experience in this field?

Seeing that Donald Trump once thought a Trump brand for steaks was a great idea (as well as his own personalized airline, a travel website, a vodka brand and even his own board game), I think the de facto winner is Hillary Clinton. But in all honesty, this is not Clinton’s strength as a presidential candidate—don’t mistake your parents’ reminisce of the economic heyday of Bill Clinton for Hillary’s own initiatives. Hillary certainly has experience with the U.S. economy, since she has been a Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady, but she hasn’t shown any major innovation toward economic growth. And, while you might not like to hear this, the Americans voting for Trump think he’s a successful businessman—their reality is evidently going to count for something in the coming election.

What was the best Late Night moment on this issue?

Larry David impersonating Bernie Sanders on SNL talking about breaking up the big banks into little pieces—if you haven’t seen that cold opening, go watch it now. It’s an absolute riot.

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