Breaking down the first presidential debate, September 26th, 2016, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton:
The debate video and transcript, and my source for Trump and Hillary quotes is here. (New York Times)
My bias: strongly left leaning, certainly, but self-identified Independent
My personal opinions:
On the “pro-Hillary at least in the sense of anti-Trump” side: Trump appears to have no knowledge of key issues, does not have clear oratory skills, lacks calm temperament and diplomacy, and offers only attacks rather than specific plans, proposals, and solutions.
On the “I still can’t vote for Trump, but anti-Hillary” side: I feel that a(n) (even marginally) smarter person could have reasonally attacked Hillary point for point on nearly every issue. (speculation: Perhaps this was intentional, in that “the crowd” might not favor reasoned academic debate over rabble-rousing Trumpian soundbites, or so Trump, the entertainer, might think)
And, noted, it appears that people on each side of the debate essentially say the exact same thing about the other candidate, just switch the names: liar, lack of transparency, the other one has better temperament, the other one has more noticeable health issues, the other one flip flops on their issues so you don’t know where they stand, their candidate will help the middle class best, the other candidate is too personally biased towards Wall Street… and so on
The one thing I can say, from everyone, both sides of the aisle, I have encountered, is that everyone hates this election, everyone is angry, and it seems most people would rather have nearly anyone else except for these two – yet these two clearly indisputably won the primary votes.
Question One: Job creation
My personal thoughts: I thought this opening part of the debate was rather GOP v. Democrat party platform textbook answers. Of course the Democrats would be for taxes on the wealthy and increased regulations, presumably to help raise federal income – while appealing to middle to lower class voters, and counter pollution. Of course the Republicans would be against taxes on the wealthy and against regulations – one side sees this as the rich making themselves richer at the expense of the poor, the other side sees this as “trickle down economics,” now called the “job creation” argument. (of course, it is not that hyperbolic, nor that simple) My only point here is that I felt the answers here were pretty standard main party positions. Both try to appeal to the middle class. As a voter, are you pro or against increased regulation, want to raise or lower capital gains taxes, want to reform tax laws or not, for or against EPA regulations, believe trickle-down economics doesn’t work, or believe that capitalism should not be hindered by the government, or that it is not the government’s domain to constrain private industry in any regard, and so forth…
The candidates made reference to the past. Yes, the ’90s were an era of relative economic prosperity, that does correlate to the Clinton regime. However, a) to what degree is that an accurate reflection of Hillary Clinton’s contributions? b) The ’90s had a very different economic climate than now and may not be currently relevant. (to which I could also add, what is the correlation and relevancy of Trump’s business record, or any business record, with regard to political governance and presidential ability? but that is a whole other can of worms… it could also be that a vote for Trump is not so much a vote reflecting his competence, but a political statement against career politicians…)
Specific answer time. I will attempt to evaluate candidates by their ability to answer the question, in terms of offering a specific solution and how to achieve that proposal.
proposing solutions: “invest in…jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business. We also have to make the economy fairer. …raising the national minimum wage and … equal pay for women’s work. [and] I also want to see more companies do profit-sharing. …paid family leave, earned sick days. …affordable child care and debt-free college.”
how to achieve solutions: “by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes”
Criticisms: How much of this can a president – given Congressional approval, which is a big “if” – actually accomplish? The government is a large employer. Improved infrastructure is needed.
The government can set a minimum wage. The government can not make private companies engage in profit-sharing. The government could potentially incentivize companies to hire a net positive amount of jobs within the United States, as opposed to outsourcing, via tax incentives. (Bill Clinton on jobs.) Debt-free college seems a stretch, and a large amount of colleges and universities are in the private sector. I’m not sure what “close corporate loopholes” entails. Legislation may be in place to regulate Wall Street (if it is), but enforcement has to be on par. Do we see bankers and others involved in financial crimes getting duly punished? To what degree could, or would, Hillary Clinton come down hard on Wall Street, given her interests? To what degree would Congress let her, given theirs? (same goes for Trump, not to mention personal conflicts of interest)
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, and employees who work work study or receive tips can legally receive less.
If you have one full time job at minimum wage, $7.25/hr, (and good luck getting full time), with no other source of income, this roughly equates to $15,000 annual income (per this calculator). The current poverty line is $11,880 for one individual. I would personally suggest that the poverty line be raised. The average annual cost of living, for one person, in the United States (according to here) is $28,474.
mentioning the problem: (I will attempt to paraphrase, when not in quotes, on occasion, in my words, for brevity and clarity, when I feel appropriate, to actually give Trump the benefit of the doubt.) The problem is with outsourcing, to Mexico and other countries. “China…[is] devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. …Because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing. …Mexico…[is] building some of the biggest plants… Ford[‘s] …small car division [is outsourcing]…Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio.”
proposing solutions: “As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do … We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.”
how to achieve solutions: “I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses.”
Criticisms: Trump spent the majority of his answer expounding vaguely on the problem, which seemed primarily to be outsourcing, while not offering much in the way of solutions. He did specifically mention renegotiating trade deals and reducing taxes for companies from 35 to 15 percent. He is either referring to capital gains tax, which would make more sense with regard to business and the real source of revenue for top earners, or federal income tax, which would make more sense with regard to the 35% reference.
Capital gains tax was at roughly 20% during the Clinton years and George W. Bush’s 1st term, then reduced to 15% during George W. Bush’s 2nd term and throughout the Obama administration, where it is currently at 15%, according to wikipedia, for one. (admittedly a poor source)
Since Reagan (insert Reaganomics and stagflation) was brought into this, the capital gains tax was raised to 28% from 20% in 1986. And, technically, the Reagan era had the highest earners paying increased income taxes, while the lowest earners paid a decreased percentage of income taxes (wikipedia). Is it possible that Reagan would be too left-leaning for the GOP today?
George W. Bush brought the capital gains tax down to 15%, and Obama administration extended the 15% capital gains tax, but 20% for the highest bracket. “Section 2011 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 exempted 100% of the taxes on capital gains for angel and venture capital investors on small business stock investments if held for 5 years. It was a temporary measure but was extended further through 2011 (wikipedia).” An additional 3.8% tax was added in 2013 (wiki). So…the capital gains tax is already at 15%; does Trump intend to lower this?
Or, it is more likely that Trump is referring to federal income tax. If this is so, then reducing 35 to 15, in this context, would mean requiring an individual who makes $411,501 to $413,200 to pay the same tax percentage rate as an individual who makes $9,226 to $37,450. (irs.com; publication 17, 2015, irs.gov, page 264) (which, with a poverty level at $11,880, includes individuals 25% below the poverty line up to individuals roughly three times the poverty line) Again, I suppose the theory is trickle-down economics.
As for renegotiating trade deals…well, for one, that is very vague.
see video here regarding foreign response to the US debate (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC)
(for the record, here is Ford CEO’s response to Trump.)
oh my god, I haven’t even gotten through question one. I will have to streamline this. I will post this as part one and continue from there.