On the is­sues

Our view: In case any­one is de­cid­ing be­tween Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton based on where they stand on pol­icy, we of­fer a primer on their views

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

We re­al­ize it may seem like a quaint idea in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion dom­i­nated by talk of pri­vate email servers, boasts about sex­ual as­sault and tax dodg­ing, and oc­ca­sional flashes of out­right racism, but big is­sues are also at stake in the con­test be­tween Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump. On the off chance that any vot­ers are try­ing to make up their minds based on where the can­di­dates stand on the ma­jor ques­tions of the day, we of­fer an analysis of their plat­forms on a few key is­sues.

Taxes

In a nut­shell, Ms. Clin­ton wants to raise taxes on top earn­ers to pay for mod­est cuts for others and as­sorted new spend­ing, while Mr. Trump pro­poses tax cuts of about twice the mag­ni­tude of those Ge­orge W. Bush en­acted, tilted heav­ily to­ward the rich. Mr. Trump also plans a ma­jor cut to the cor­po­rate in­come tax — drop­ping it from 35 per­cent to 15 per­cent — and ap­ply­ing it to a va­ri­ety of busi­ness en­ti­ties whose own­ers pay per­sonal in­come taxes on their prof­its (like the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, for ex­am­ple). A va­ri­ety of groups have an­a­lyzed the two plans us­ing dif­fer­ent mod­els for how they would af­fect the econ­omy, and while their pre­cise fig­ures dif­fer, the gist is the same. De­pend­ing on which es­ti­mate you pick, Ms. Clin­ton’s plan is ex­pected to gen­er­ate be­tween $1.3 tril­lion and $1.7 tril­lion in new rev­enue over a decade while Mr. Trump’s costs be­tween $4.4 tril­lion and $7 tril­lion over the same pe­riod. He claims a mas­sive wave of eco­nomic growth will pay for the cuts, but that didn’t hap­pen un­der Ron­ald Rea­gan or Mr. Bush, so do we re­ally have to try it a third time?

Cli­mate change

Ms. Clin­ton be­lieves that cli­mate change is real and is caused in large part by hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties, like the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els. Mr. Trump has said on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions that he be­lieves cli­mate change is a hoax, for ex­am­ple in a 2012 tweet claim­ing it was in­vented by China to make United States man­u­fac­tur­ing un­com­pet­i­tive. Mr. Trump would seek to pull the United States out of the Paris agree­ment that set a goal of lim­it­ing global warm­ing to less than 2 de­grees Cel­sius above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els. He would cur­tail if not elim­i­nate the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s role in lim­it­ing green­house gas emis­sions and would seek to res­ur­rect Amer­ica’s coal in­dus­try.

Ms. Clin­ton would work to im­ple­ment the Paris agree­ment, which re­quires the United States to re­duce its emis­sions to 26 per­cent to 28 per­cent be­low 2005 lev­els. (We’re al­ready half­way there.) She would do so by im­ple­ment­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which uses EPA author­ity to limit emis­sions from power plants but which was put on hold by the Supreme Court. Ms. Clin­ton has not en­dorsed a car­bon tax, though the idea is in the Demo­cratic Party plat­form. She would cut tax in­cen­tives for oil and gas com­pa­nies and pro­vide them for re­new­able en­ergy like so­lar and wind power.

Syria/ISIS

Mr. Trump has said he knows more about how to de­feat ISIS than Amer­ica’s gen­er­als. He has not pro­vided de­tailed plans for howhe­would com­bat the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, say­ing that to do so would elim­i­nate the el­e­ment of sur­prise, though he has said he would “bomb the s---” out of the group’s oil pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. He has op­posed Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in Syria’s civil war and has crit­i­cized Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to equip and train rebel groups op­pos­ing Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad. Mr. Trump has sup­ported Rus­sian in­volve­ment in the re­gion, how­ever. On the ques­tion of the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Syria, Mr. Trump has sug­gested that Mid­dle Eastern states should cre­ate and fund a “safe zone” in­side Syria. He strongly op­poses al­low­ing more Syr­ian refugees into the United States, say­ing that to do so would al­low ter­ror­ists to in­fil­trate the coun­try.

Ms. Clin­ton has a more hawk­ish ap­proach to Syria and ISIS than the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which con­cerns us. She has en­dorsed the creation of a no-fly zone over Syria to help pro­tect hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts there, but given Rus­sian in­volve­ment in the civil war, we worry that such a pol­icy risks spark­ing much broader con­fronta­tions. Some of her other poli­cies are more com­fort­ing, though. Ms. Clin­ton would step up bomb­ing of ISIS in Iraq and take steps to sup­port Kur­dish and Sunni mili­tias in the fight against the group. She has also sup­ported in­creas­ing the num­ber of Syr­ian refugees ad­mit­ted to the Un­tied States, sub­ject­ing them to the cur­rent rig­or­ous vet­ting process.

Health care

Ms. Clin­ton would keep the Af­ford­able Care Act and would seek re­forms to make it work bet­ter, a set of pol­icy pro­pos­als she has laid out in great de­tail. She calls for an in­crease in sub­si­dies for those buy­ing in­sur­ance on ex­changes so that pre­mi­ums take up no more than 8.5 per­cent of a fam­ily’s in­come and for the abil­ity to cre­ate pub­lic health in­sur­ance op­tions in states that want them to help in­crease com­pe­ti­tion. She would in­crease in­cen­tives for states to adopt the ACA’s ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid, The pres­i­den­tial cam­paign has done lit­tle to il­lu­mi­nate where Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton stand on key is­sues. al­low in­di­vid­u­als ages 55-64 to buy into Medi­care and per­mit Medi­care to ne­go­ti­ate for lower prices from drug com­pa­nies. The list goes on, but the up­shot is to pre­serve the ACA’s fixes to some of the great­est abuses of the pre-Oba­macare in­sur­ance mar­kets — for ex­am­ple, the de­nial of cov­er­age be­cause of pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions or plans that capped ben­e­fits or failed to cover some con­di­tions — while ad­dress­ing the af­ford­abil­ity is­sues of the cur­rent sys­tem. The only real fault with them is that Repub­li­cans in Congress are just as un­likely to adopt any of them un­der a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton as they have been un­der Pres­i­dent Obama.

Mr. Trump would seek to re­peal the ACA al­to­gether. He wants to al­low in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to sell poli­cies across state lines, a fa­vorite Repub­li­can health care idea that has lit­tle chance of re­duc­ing costs, and he wants to trans­form Med­i­caid into a block grant pro­gram for the states, which would lead to vast dis­par­i­ties in the way the poor are treated de­pend­ing on where they live. Some of his ideas aren’t bad. He wants to al­low those who buy in­di­vid­ual cov­er­age to deduct the cost from their in­come taxes — cur­rently, only those who re­ceive cov­er­age through their em­ploy­ers can do that. He wants to en­cour­age the use of health sav­ings ac­counts, which are a use­ful tool for some con­sumers, par­tic­u­larly the young and healthy types who might choose bare-bones, high-de­ductible in­sur­ance. And, like Ms. Clin­ton, he wants to in­crease price trans­parency in the health care sys­tem, which is badly needed.

Ed­u­ca­tion

Mr. Trump is also a big be­liever in mar­ket forces when it comes to K-12 ed­u­ca­tion. He wants the fed­eral and state govern­ments to re­ori­ent spend­ing to sup­port school choice pro­grams that would pro­vide low-in­come fam­i­lies with $12,000 to send their chil­dren to any school they like, pub­lic or pri­vate. We have been strong sup­port­ers of the char­ter school move­ment in Mary­land be­cause of its po­ten­tial to pro­vide par­ents with more op­tions. But Mr. Trump’s plan would in­evitably leave many chil­dren be­hind in schools that were now starved for fund­ing. Mr. Trump has also vowed to get rid of the Com­mon Core stan­dards adopted by most states (in­clud­ing Mary­land). That’s a mis­take. They rep­re­sent a recog­ni­tion that we need to be grad­u­at­ing stu­dents with higher lev­els of skills than in the past. The Com­monCore is de­signed to do that, and it needs to be given time to work.

Ms. Clin­ton is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the pub­lic school sys­tem, start­ing with the ad­di­tion of univer­sal pre-K for 4-year-olds. That’s an ex­pen­sive pro­posal but one that’s cru­cial if we’re se­ri­ous about re­duc­ing achieve­ment gaps. She also wants in­creased fed­eral in­vest­ment in re­pair­ing, ren­o­vat­ing and mod­ern­iz­ing schools. We are skep­ti­cal of her pro­posal to make in-state col­lege free for fam­i­lies earn­ing up to $125,000 a year — not just based on its cost but also on the per­verse in­cen­tives it could cre­ate for states to re­duce higher-ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing.

Supreme Court

Un­less Se­nate Repub­li­cans drop their in­tran­si­gence and al­low a vote on Pres­i­dent Obama’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee, Judge Mer­rick Gar­land, dur­ing a lame-duck ses­sion, ap­point­ing some­one to the high court will be at the top of the next pres­i­dent’s agenda. At least two other judges could re­tire dur­ing the next pres­i­dent’s term, putting the long-term ide­o­log­i­cal bal­ance of the court in play in this elec­tion. The can­di­dates dis­cussed their views on court nom­i­nees dur­ing their third de­bate, with Ms. Clin­ton say­ing she wants to ap­point judges who will “stand up on be­half of women’s rights, on be­half of the rights of the LGBT com­mu­nity, that will stand up and say no to Cit­i­zens United.” Mr. Trump said we need a court that “is go­ing to up­hold the Sec­ond Amend­ment, and all amend­ments, but the Sec­ond Amend­ment, which is un­der ab­so­lute siege.” He said he will ap­point anti-abor­tion-rights jus­tices and those who fa­vor an orig­i­nal­ist in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, whereas Ms. Clin­ton has said she will seek nom­i­nees whowould up­hold Roe v. Wade and view the Con­sti­tu­tion as a liv­ing doc­u­ment that must be in­ter­preted in the con­text of the times.

JAY LAPRETE/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

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