Getting Past the Rhetoric: The Real Issues in the 2016 Presidential Election

Sam Genova ’18 – Inside Politics Participant

Never before in an election cycle has it become so easy to get swept up in the frenzy of insults, accusations, and grandiose claims than in our current presidential election. The entertainment value of this election is so high that Donald Trump has gotten around $4.3 billion in free media in the past year. This puts the value of Trump’s media coverage at nearly double the value of the GDP of Belize. Meanwhile, both candidates are sporting the highest unfavorable ratings of any two presidential candidates in history. The coverage of this election has focused on attacking the character and discussing scandals of both candidates, rather than focusing on substantive policy issues. It is important we know where both candidates stand on the issues that matter so that we can make informed decisions on election day. According to the Pew Research Center, the three most important issues are:

1.) Economy

Clinton’s Position: She is looking to reform the tax system to make it more progressive. This would not change the tax rates for most Americans, but it would include a new tax bracket for those earning over $5,000,000 annually. This would add an estimated $1 trillion in revenue over the next ten years. She opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and would look to provide tax incentives for companies to manufacture goods in the United States. She also proposes creating jobs in the energy sector which will come from her plan to promote renewable energy sources.

Trump’s Position: He promises to cut taxes for every American. His plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three. These tax cuts would reduce taxes across all income levels, but would benefit the wealthy disproportionally. He also opposes the TPP, and calls to renegotiate trade deals to favor the United States. He also proposes placing high tariffs on foreign imports to promote American-made goods. He also calls to increase the growth of manufacturing jobs, which has been declining.

2.) Terrorism and Foreign Policy

Clinton’s Position: She is a proponent of the Iran deal. Clinton also supports Israel with hopes to keep it as the stable military power in the region. She supports stronger sanctions in regards to China’s human rights abuse record and cyber attacks. She supports a coalition of Western and Arab countries against the Islamic State (IS), encourages increased United States airstrikes, and wants to arm the Kurds and Sunni Arab fighters in the fight against the IS. Clinton would maintain restrictions on NSA surveillance, would close Guantanamo, would ban the use of torture on terrorism suspects, and would instate a more thorough screening process for people who have traveled to countries with terrorist threats.

Trump’s Position: He opposes the Iran deal and would renegotiate it. He would support stricter economic sanctions on China for currency manipulation and unfair trade practices, create more of a deterrent against Chinese cyber attacks, and increase U.S. naval presence by the South China Sea. He would form a coalition of Western and Arab countries to combat IS, would increase the number of United States ground troops in Iraq and Syria, and increase the number of airstrikes. Trump would also increase the amount of NSA surveillance, would keep Guantanamo open, allow torture such as waterboarding to be used on terror suspects, would ban Muslims from entering the US, and would support “extreme vetting” for Syrian refugees.

3.) Healthcare

Clinton’s Position: She supports the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and would amend and expand it. She would put a cap on co-pays for prescription drugs and would create more competition in the market. This would allow for generic drugs to be more readily available to consumers. She supports and would defend Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood. She has also unveiled an extensive plan to reform the mental health care system and to raise awareness for the issue.

Trump’s Position: He would repeal the Affordable Care Act. He would increase competition in the private insurance sector and not require individuals to have a health care plan. He would also enforce laws that prevent undocumented immigrants from getting health care. He would lower prescription drug prices by increasing competition in the marketplace. Trump supports abortions but only in cases such as rape, incest, or where a woman’s health is in danger. He would only support funding Planned Parenthood if they stopped performing abortions. Trump would expand treatment programs for the mentally ill, citing the need for this expansion partially in reaction to increased mass shootings.

Whether you support Trump, Clinton, a third party, or are undecided, it is important that you stay informed on the policies of the candidates. Uninformed voting is all too common, but with a small amount of research, you can look past the rhetoric and see where candidates stand on important issues. I encourage you to get more information and exercise your right to guide this country in the direction you think it should go.

The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.