Click any of the issues below to compare what each candidate has said about the selected issue.
Environment & Energy
Entitlements & Welfare
Finance & Banking
Military Preparedness & Budget
War On Terror
Free Speech & Religious Liberty
Trump’s tax reform proposal, unveiled in late September 2015, would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to four: 0 percent on income under $25,000 for an individual ($50,000 for a married couple) 10 percent on income between $25,001 – $50,000 ($50,001 – $100,000 for married couples), 20 percent on income $50,001 – $150,000 ($100,001 – $300,000 for married couples), and 25 percent on income beyond the $150,000 and $300,000 thresholds. He would also eliminate the inheritance tax and Alternative Minimum Tax, and lower corporate taxes to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. He would also impose a one-time tax of 10 percent on corporate profits currently held overseas, and future overseas profits could no longer be deferred.
His plan would also reduce various deductions and exemptions, particularly for higher-income earners, as well as treating “carried interest” earned by investment managers as regular income. The deduction for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions would remain.
Following the first week of 2016 and a decline of nearly 1,000 points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average of stock prices, Trump said, “Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us. We’re going to tax Wall Street.” It was not clear what, if any, new taxes he might have been referring to.
Trump’s plan is largely consistent with his rhetoric in recent years. In 2010, he supported the extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all income brackets and he has supported the complete elimination of the corporate income tax in order to help spur job creation in America. He has generally opposed transitioning the U.S. income tax system to a flat tax, feeling that this system benefits the wealthy far too much, and has proposed in the past raising taxes on carried interest.
In 1999, Trump proposed implementing a one-time “net worth tax” of 14.25 percent on individuals and trusts worth more than $10 million, to be paid over 10 years, coupled with the repeal of the inheritance tax, to help pay off the national debt.
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Trump’s business dealings have often brought him into conflict with organized labor. His Chicago development, Trump Tower Chicago, was picketed by the hotel workers union in 2008, angry that the hotel hadn’t signed an agreement to let it attempt to organize its workers. In 2014, the survival of Trump’s bankrupt Taj Mahal casino/hotel Atlantic City property was “staked” on winning a battle with the unions over “proposed cuts to their health and pension benefits” that included transitioning workers to 401(k)-style retirement programs and ending health benefits while moving workers to Obamacare exchanges. Trump Entertainment Group received court permission to break its union agreement for the Trump Taj Mahal on Oct. 17, 2014, with unions announcing immediate plans to picket the property.
He has announced that he opposes an increase in the minimum wage, arguing it would hurt U.S. economic competitiveness, and said that men and women should be paid the same for doing the same job but noted that it’s “very difficult to say what is the same job,” suggesting some skepticism about further legislation on the matter (it’s already illegal to pay men and women different wages for doing the same job).
Trump has been a frequent beneficiary of eminent domain, where the government has seized property (and compensated the owners) in order to build privately-owned developments. He recently defended the practice, calling it a “wonderful thing.”
Trump has repeatedly expressed doubt as to the validity of climate change, including an interview with Breitbart News in September 2014 where he said “[t]axing everybody for climate change is absolutely ridiculous. Many people don’t even there is such a thing as ‘climate change.’ It’s called weather.”
In his 2011 book, Time to Get Tough, Trump criticized Obama’s embrace of cap and trade policy to combat climate change, saying the administration wanted “higher energy prices because they believe that will force America to drive less and businesses to slow down on production and transportation” and “drive energy prices sky high.”
He has called for more drilling of oil in the U.S. and expressed his support for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to develop American oil and natural gas.
He has supported construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, although in late October 2015 he suggested the U.S. should get a “better deal” from the company building the pipeline in exchange for allowing it to be built, saying that “Maybe we should get 10 per cent, 15 per cent, maybe 20 per cent as that oil flows,” apparently meaning the U.S. should impose a tariff on the oil that transits the pipeline.
Trump has mostly been critical of politicians’ refusal to cut spending and rein in the budget, but he only recently described specific areas where he would reduce spending, singling out the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency for cuts. He called the budget deal reached in 2011 “a joke,” adding that “eventually you have to balance the budget.” He has suggested that the GOP should have refused to raise the debt ceiling, stressing the political benefits of debt default would have prevented Obama from being re-elected.
He has also been critical of the sequestration budget cuts for only having slowed the growth in federal spending, adding “it’s not really a cut” and calling for more spending cuts to balance the budget.
His tax proposal, unveiled in late September 2015, is supposedly revenue-neutral and would not add to the deficit, although that depends on an assumption of 6 percent economic growth, which few consider to be realistic.
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Trump’s record on health care issues is inconsistent. He is a fervent critic of Obamacare” and in his 2011 book he said it would “destroy jobs & small businesses,” “explode health-care costs,” and “lead to health care that is far less innovative than it is today.”
However, in Trump’s 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he argued “we must have universal healthcare,” and called for the U.S. “to make reforms for the moment and, longer term, to find an equivalent of the single-payer plan that is affordable.” He also described a health care marketplace system very similar to the concept of Obamacare exchanges: “It operates through a centralized agency that offers considerable range of choice. While this is a government program, it is also very much market-based. It allows 620 private insurance companies to compete for this market. Once a year participants can choose from plans which vary in benefits and costs.”
In January 2016, Trump said he favored allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs, a longtime priority of Democrats. Most free-market analysts believe this action would effectively establish price controls and diminish research and development for new drugs. He said, “I like the mandate,” referring to the requirement in Obamacare that most people obtain health insurance, although he later claimed he didn’t mean that.
While Trump has offered very few specifics about what he would do on health care, he has suggested that the government would pay for the medical costs of low-income individuals, and he has repeatedly stated that nobody would “die in the streets” for lack of medical care under his plan. He has also endorsed allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines in order to promote competition and said health savings accounts would be part of his plan as well.
Trump has said he believes there is a link between autism and vaccines, a widely debunked theory.
Trump has called the food stamps program an “outrageously mismanaged government program” that despite being a “blatant waste of taxpayers’ dollars … doesn’t bother Obama, because it’s all part of his broader nanny-state agenda.”
He has called for welfare-to-work requirements to be expanded, saying “[w]e need to take a page from the 1996 reform and do the same for other welfare programs. Benefits should have strings attached to them. After all, if it’s our money recipients are getting, we the people should have a say in how it’s spent.”
Trump has also been inconsistent on making major changes to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
He has said that Social Security is “honoring a deal” not an “entitlement,” adding that “Social Security is here to stay” and we must “reform it, root out the fraud, make it more efficient, and ensure that the program is solvent.” He has called for at least partial privatization of Social Security, saying “[d]irecting Social Security funds into personal accounts invested in real assets would swell national savings, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into jobs and the economy.”
However, he has cautioned Republicans against making changes to these systems. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013, Trump said “[a]s Republicans, if you think you’re going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you’re going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen.”
He has also pledged that he wouldn’t make changes to the systems, saying: “People have been paying in for years. They’re gonna cut Social Security. They’re gonna cut Medicare. They’re gonna cut Medicaid. I’m the one saying that’s saying I’m not gonna do that!”
Trump does not generally support free trade deals, specifically calling for “a 15 percent tax for outsourcing jobs and a 20 percent tax for importing goods” and renegotiating existing trade deals with other countries.” He has been critical of NAFTA and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which he said “will do next to nothing to even out the trade imbalance, will further erode American manufacturing and kill more American jobs, and will wipe away the tariffs South Korea presently pays us to sell their stuff in our country.”
He has announced his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which in May 2015 he criticized for “not addressing the number one cause of the unfairness, which is the currency manipulation.” Trump also suggested he would seek a 45 percent tax on all imported goods from China.
Trump has become a leading critic of both legal and illegal immigration and adopted one of the more hard-line stands against it of any candidate. He has told Americans that immigrants are “taking your jobs. You better be careful.” He has also warned that “half” of those in the country illegally are criminals, and drew a firestorm of criticism and protest during his announcement speech when he said many of the Mexicans coming into the country illegally were “rapists” and “criminals.”
Trump has been critical of Republicans embracing and pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, calling it “a suicide mission” for the GOP and warning that they “will not get any of those votes no matter what you do.” He has stressed the importance of building a wall at the border, which he says he will force Mexico to pay for, and accused Obama of breaking the law with his executive order on immigration.
He has vowed to deport all illegal aliens currently in the U.S and also said he will prevent remittances being made by illegals to their home countries. Most recently he has suggested that “birthright citizenship,” which grants U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S., should be ended, something most believe would require a constitutional amendment.
In a March 2016 debate, Trump appeared to soften his stance somewhat in regards to H-1B visas, which are given to skilled workers sponsored by American businesses. He said he was changing his position, which previously was that American employers should be required to offer jobs to Americans first, in order to bring in and keep highly skilled foreign workers that he said the U.S. needs. Shortly after the debate, however, he reversed himself again, vowing to crack down on what he termed “abuse” in the program.
Trump has said little directly about U.S. agriculture policy, although some in the farm community have expressed concerns that his immigration policies will have a negative impact on their ability to hire laborers to harvest crops.
He has been critical of the Obama administration’s subsidies to green energy companies, calling them a “massive government giveaway of billions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars,” but he spoke supportively of the government bailout of the automakers, saying in 2008 that “we cannot lose the auto companies,” and that we need to “have the big three,” and he “stands behind them 100%.” He did, however, criticize the auto bailouts later in 2012, but then expressed ambiguous support for the auto bailouts in August 2015, explaining that “You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuilt itself, and a lot of people felt it should happen. Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it either way. Either way would have been acceptable.”
In his business dealings, Trump has often benefited from corporate welfare. He built his real estate empire with the considerable help of tax breaks and federal financing. He has also benefited significantly from the government’s use of eminent domain to seize private property to facilitate his real estate developments. In 2012, Trump announced plans for a major film and TV studio in Florida, which could take advantage of the state’s 20 percent film tax credit.
Trump also made a bid to become the new owner of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills franchise, which included plans for a new Buffalo Bills stadium that would be built with public financing.
During the financial crisis, Trump said that the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was “something that has to get done, because your financial system is most likely going to come to a halt if it does not.” He did, however, call the necessity of TARP a “pretty sad day for this country.” He has been critical of the impact of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation and called for it to be repealed.
Trump has also expressed criticism if the Federal Reserve banking system. He has accused them of “creating phony numbers” and has said that it should “absolutely” be audited.
In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump criticized the 3% of GDP level of funding for the military as “too low,” adding “Defense spending in the last year of the Carter administration came to 4.9% of GDP. During the Reagan buildup it was 6.5%.” He also criticized the sequestration cuts to military spending, and pledged a large buildup of the military under his presidency, although he did not specify details. He did not appear to know that the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal has three separate components (bombers, land-based missiles, and submarine-based missiles) when the subject was raised at the December 2015 GOP debate.
He said he favors subsidizing private health care for veterans instead of forcing them to wait for Veterans Administration care, and in late October 2015 he offered a specific plan for addressing health care for veterans. The main element of his plan include giving veterans the ability to visit any doctor or health facility that accepts Medicare, as well as increasing funding for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders, brain injuries, and suicide prevention. He also pledges to crack down on corruption, waste and inefficiencies at the Veterans Administration.
Trump has spoken hawkishly on the war on terror. He pledged “nobody would be tougher” than him in dealing with ISIS, promising that he would “hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn’t know what happened.” He asserted that he has a plan to defeat ISIS, but won’t yet reveal the details of the plan. He also said he would “take out their families,” referring to killing the families of ISIS terrorists, reiterating his support for such a policy during the December 2015 GOP debate.
Following a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015, Trump proposed a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States either as tourists or immigrants, and he suggested in an interview that he may have supported the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II if he had been president.
He recommended against the U.S. becoming involved in the conflict in Syria, saying, “Wouldn’t you think maybe it’s time to stay out of one of these?” He has also recommended letting ISIS destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, then going in to Syria and taking out ISIS there. He initially said the U.S. should take in some Syrian refugees without specifying how many, but he has since reversed himself over concerns terrorists could infiltrate the refugees and come to the United States. He pledged to deport any Syrian refugees who arrive in the U.S. during President Obama’s term, and he also suggested “safe zones” in Syria might be the best option for refugees.
Trump has been critical of the Iraq War. He has said he “would have never been in Iraq,” and has said “those who supported the Iraq War are ‘unqualified’ to be commander-in-chief.” But in 2011 he suggested U.S. troops should remain in Iraq and “take the oil” as compensation for American lives lost and funds spent on the war. He has made similar statements regarding seizing Libya’s oil and bombing Iraqi oil fields held by ISIS to deprive the terrorist group of revenue.
In late October 2015, Trump said the world would be better off if both Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi were still in power instead of having been forcibly deposed by the U.S. and allies, and although he has said recently he did not favor U.S. intervention in Libya, his 2011 comments on the subject clearly indicate he supported the Obama administration’s actions in helping to overthrow the dictator.
After initially calling the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan a “terrible mistake” in early October 2015, Trump quickly reversed his position and said Afghanistan was “where we should have gone,” presumably meaning the U.S. should have focused on Afghanistan and not invaded Iraq. He agrees with President Obama’s plan to keep at least 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through early 2017.
He has voiced support for the Patriot Act and legislation that allows the NSA to hold what is known as metadata, essentially the phone records (but not the content) of calls made in the U.S.
Trump has endorsed the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique, as well as “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” He also suggested that the U.S. would have to shut down some American mosques where “some bad things are happening.”
Trump has urged his supporters to boycott Apple over that company’s decision not to assist the FBI in decrypting the iPhone of one of the terrorists involved in the 2015 San Bernardino attack.
While Trump has been vocal on a number of foreign policy issues, he has been vague as to what specifically he might do. In a September 2015 interview he explained his vagueness was intentional because “People can’t know exactly what your intentions are…you want to have a little guesswork for the enemy… I don’t want to broadcast my intentions.”
He has criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Russia, saying that Vladimir Putin has “eaten Obama’s lunch, therefore our lunch, for a long period of time.” He contends that Putin is “playing [Obama] like nobody’s ever played him before,” calling it “quite embarrassing to watch it unfold.” He asserts “if Russia respected us they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.” As to what he would do as president in dealing with Putin, he has simply said he would “get along” with him and when asked said “I wouldn’t care” whether Ukraine was invited to join NATO.
Trump has also criticized the Obama administration’s attempts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran” and advised U.S. negotiators to walk away from the table if they can’t get what they want.
On Israel, Trump has called Obama “Israel’s greatest enemy,” and has called him the “worst thing that ever happened to Israel.”
Trump has spoken frequently, and critically, about China, warning the U.S. is losing economic power to China, and calling on the U.S. to crack down on China’s currency manipulation. He has recommended a 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports. He has said of China: “These are not our friends; these are our enemies.”
Despite a generally hostile stance towards China, he has suggested he would like to see it take care of one problem for the U.S. in the region by making North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “disappear.”
Trump has called on the U.S. to eliminate foreign aid to other nations.
Trump has had little occasion to comment on judicial nominees until recently, but his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a senior U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Trump said that his sister would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court Justice, although it’s not clear how serious he was in that assessment. She was appointed as a district court judge by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton. She authored an opinion striking down a New Jersey law banning the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion as unconstitutional. In 2006, Barry testified in support of Justice Samuel Alito — her colleague from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit — in his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Trump has spoken critically of President George W. Bush’s choice of John Roberts for chief justice of the United States, noting that it was Roberts who authored the Supreme Court opinion that saved Obamacare. Reacting to the Supreme Court’s opinion on Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), Trump said “once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down.” This statement has caused some confusion because Roberts sided with the minority, dissenting from the majority’s opinion on the case.
In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump warned that “unless we stand up for tough anticrime policies, they will be replaced by policies that emphasize criminals’ rights over those of ordinary citizens.” He supports the death penalty.
Trump supports legalizing drugs, saying, “You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.” He has suggested that legalized drugs be taxed, and the resulting tax revenue be used to fund anti-drug educational campaigns.
Trump says he is opposed to gun control and has said he is a concealed-carry permit holder. Speaking to Breitbart News in 2015, he stressed “[i]t is so important that we maintain the Second Amendment and that we maintain it strongly. … It is absolutely imperative that we maintain the Second Amendment in its strongest form.” In a 2015 interview he said he opposes both expanded background checks on private firearm sales and restrictions on the number of bullets that can be held in a gun magazine, and in 2014 he was one of the featured speakers at an Albany, N.Y., rally against gun control.
He recently proposed allowing concealed carry permits issued in one state to be valid in all 50 states, and also called for ending all gun and magazine bans. The latter represents a shift in his position, as in his 2000 book The America We Deserve, Trump wrote he supported “the ban on assault weapons.” During a March 2016 debate he reiterated his opposition to an assault weapon ban.
He also favored “a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” and it’s unclear if he has shifted his position on this issue.
He said he would consider a ban on gun purchases by those on government terrorist watch lists, something opposed by most gun-rights advocates because the lists are often inaccurate and violate due-process rights.
Trump used to be pro-choice but changed his mind and became pro-life several years ago. He explained his shift as the result of several personal stories, telling an interviewer “They changed me. Yeah, they changed my view as to that, absolutely.” He would allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
On same-sex marriage Trump has consistently said he favors the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and he seemed to criticize the Supreme Court’s decision in the case when he said Chief Justice Roberts had “let us down,” although Roberts actually was in the minority and voted against granting same-sex marriage constitutional protection. He has called it a “states-rights issue.”
In potentially troubling comments regarding religious liberty, Trump suggested that the federal government could shut down some mosques as part of an effort to fight terrorism, similar to what the United Kingdom has done. He qualified his statement by suggesting such closures may not be legal (and presumably he would not then attempt them) and that they would only be used at mosques that were “loaded for bear,” although it’s unclear if that means actively involved in supporting terrorist attacks or engaging in religious speech generally seen as extreme. He later reiterated his view that some mosques where “some really bad things are happening” would need to be shut down.
Trump has said Christians are “being treated horribly because we have nobody to represent the Christians. Believe me, if I run and I win, I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.” He said churches that engage in political activity should not lose their tax-exempt status.
Trump has said the Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage should try to find a different job or at least allow others in her office to issue the licenses, saying “I embrace both sides of the argument.”
In other troubling comments on the First Amendment, Trump vowed to “open up our libel laws so when [newspapers] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” suggesting he would use libel laws to silence or chill the speech of his media critics.
Trump has suggested he views contributions to candidates as an effective way to buy access, influence, and favorable decisions, but has otherwise been quiet in recent years about limits on campaign contributions and political speech. In his 2000 book The America We Deserve he favored a ban on soft-money contributions to political parties, opposed contribution limits, and supported “full and fast” disclosure of campaign contributions.
Trump said that as president he would sign an executive order mandating the death penalty in cases where police officers have been murdered, which would seem to overstep the authority of the presidency and violate the role states have in seeking penalties for non-federal crimes.
Trump opposes Common Core, saying, “[P]eople don’t want to have somebody from Washington looking down and saying this is what you’re going to be studying.” He supports school choice and recommends competition to improve public education, and he favors eliminating the Department of Education.
Regarding college student loans Trump has said he would restructure the program and eliminate government profits from the process, without providing any other details.
As a senator, Clinton voted against President George W. Bush’s major tax-cut packages. That said, once they were enacted, she did generally vote to extend many of the existing cuts.
She has endorsed the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which aims to make high-income earners pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes, without providing many details other than a 5 percent surtax on personal income over $5 million, unveiled in early January 2016.
In order to pay for her five-year, $275 billion infrastructure spending proposal, Clinton has said she would raise taxes on businesses (which she terms “reforms”), but she has not specified what taxes would be raised.
Clinton voted in favor of a bill to extend the moratorium on Internet taxes.
According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, Clinton’s tax policies would raise approximately $1.1 trillion over the next decade, with the top 1 percent of earners paying nearly three-quarters of those new taxes.
As a senator she voted to increase the minimum wage. She has announced her support for a $12 federal minimum wage, well above the current $7.25 standard but below the $15 level many progressive activists prefer.
She also voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill to impose heavy accounting and bookkeeping regulations on certain industries and was a co-sponsor of legislation after the housing crisis that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. She endorsed Obama’s call for tough “net neutrality” regulations to be imposed on Internet service providers.
As part of a proposal to reduce energy use in the U.S., she announced she would work to establish energy-efficient model building codes, expand the number of products covered under Energy Star ratings, and subject more appliances and equipment to energy efficiency mandates.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice.
As a senator, Clinton supported a so-called card check bill, which would allow unions to dispense with the need for a vote to organize at a particular company. The bill also curtailed an employer’s ability to influence the outcome of organization efforts.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice. She nominally supports exporting natural gas and oil production and sees gas as a clean, job-creating alternative to coal. After months of declining to weigh in on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, citing her role as secretary of state in helping guide the assessment process, Clinton finally announced in September 2015 that she opposed construction of the pipeline.
Clinton opposes drilling in the Arctic Wildlife National Reserve and voted in favor of an amendment to that effect. She does support some offshore drilling, but again calls for heavy regulation by government in that arena. In August 2015 she announced her opposition to an Obama administration decision to allow drilling in the Arctic Ocean. She has also said that she would prevent any further development of fossil fuel resources on federal lands, although it wasn’t clear if she would allow extraction to continue on sites that have already been developed.
In a March 2016 forum, she said a Clinton administration would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton strongly favors efforts to curb carbon emissions in response to what she perceives to be a threat posed by global warming. A firm supporter of cap-and-trade schemes, she also supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. As a senator, she supported a bill that would have expanded federally protected lands and waters.
As part of her 2016 campaign, Clinton has called for a goal of 500 million additional solar panels installed across the country and for renewable resources to generate enough electricity to power every home in the country.
Like Obama, Clinton proposed a stimulus package during her 2008 campaign. Her $110 billion plan would have focused on helping low-income families. She has long been opposed to a balanced budget amendment, though she did vote in favor of a one-year moratorium on earmarks. In 2001, she voted in favor of an additional $123.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Clinton has been sharply critical of the budget sequestration enacted as part of the debt limit deal in 2011, focusing in on the reduction in spending on scientific research. She also praised the 2013 Ryan-Murray budget compromise deal to increase spending in the short term in exchange for promised cuts in later years.
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Clinton has said she does not support a single-payer plan but meeting notes from her early health care reform efforts during her husband’s presidency show she favored it at that time. She has expressed her support for Obamacare and said she is open to making changes to it, and she proposed repealing the so-called “Cadillac tax” imposed on expensive health plans with the caveat that the lost revenue should be made up elsewhere.
She has also laid out specific proposals to limit out-of-pocket health care costs, including requiring insurers to provide three “sick” visits to the doctor at no out-of-pocket cost, offering a tax credit for out-of-pocket costs, and capping out-of-pocket drug costs at $250 a month.
She reiterated her support for a “public option” in Obamacare, a government-run insurer that would compete with private insurance companies in the market. She supported this idea in her 2008 campaign as well.
She also would require pharmaceutical companies to invest a specific percentage of their profits in research and development, eliminate the tax deductibility of consumer advertising, give Medicare the power to set drug prices for the program, and reduce the number of years biological medicines received patent protection from 12 to seven.
Her campaign has suggested that funds collected from pharmaceutical companies that fail to invest the required percentage in research and development be given to generic medicine manufacturers to encourage competition.
In December 2015, Clinton proposed spending $2 billion a year over 10 years to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinton was also instrumental in passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program that provides federal matching funds to states to provide health insurance for low-income families with children.
Clinton joined most of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate in voting against President Bush’s expansion of Medicare to create a prescription drug plan, largely based on a belief it was not generous enough to seniors and did not do more to control drug prices.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton proposed a plan that would mandate insurance coverage for all Americans. The plan’s cost, estimated (by her campaign) at $110 billion, would have been funded by repealing the Bush tax cuts.
One area Clinton did focus on during her Senate career was entitlements. In the past she supported keeping the cap on taxable income for Social Security, but more recently has suggested she might consider extending payroll taxes at income above the cap. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to poorer retirees, but has not provided specifics or addressed the question of whether benefits should be increased for all retirees. She has said she would not rule out raising the retirement age for some people in the future, although she also said she doesn’t favor it.
In 1996, she was heavily criticized for supporting her husband’s decision to sign the welfare reform bill, and she supported a bipartisan plan to increase work requirements for welfare recipients. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to at least some retirees, without providing specifics.
While not overtly opposed to NAFTA, given that it was a signature priority for her husband, she did state that she thought there ought to be higher priorities, such as health care. She went on to criticize NAFTA during her 2008 campaign for the presidency. She also opposed the Central America Free Trade Agreement, though she favored trade agreements with Singapore, Chile and Oman. More recently, Clinton has expressed reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal recently concluded by the Obama administration, and announced she would have to study the deal to decide whether to support it.
Clinton strongly favors immigration reform. She supported a comprehensive immigration reform plan in 2007 that would create a new type of visa allowing anyone in the U.S. without a valid visa to remain in the country for the rest of their lives. After 13 years, these immigrants would then be eligible for citizenship. She voted for the construction of a fence between the United States and Mexico and supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, which she calls “essential” to reform.
More recently, she vowed to go beyond Obama’s executive orders on immigration to expand the ability of illegal aliens to stay in the U.S. She has criticized the “sanctuary city” policies that prevent or hinder the deportation of illegal immigrants who commit other serious crimes.
She has seldom weighed in on agricultural issues. She did vote in favor of an amendment limiting subsidies to a married couple to $250,000, and more recently said she would double funding to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program, which provides training and assistance to people new to agriculture.
Clinton supports maintaining the Export-Import Bank, a taxpayer-supported institution that primarily benefits large U.S. corporations including Boeing and General Electric. At an event for the biotechnology industry, she suggested the federal government should subsidize companies in the industry against the risks they face as investors, and she proposes doling out to generic medicine manufacturers funds that have been collected from pharmaceutical companies that don’t in her view invest enough in research and development.
As part of a $25 billion program aimed at supporting small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, she has pledged that she will “encourage banks, businesses, and foundations to match capital and financing” to entrepreneurs who have gone through government-approved training and support programs, which could put the government in the business of directing private investment into favored firms.
As a senator she previously opposed an ethanol mandate requiring an increasing amount to be blended into gasoline, but in 2015 she reversed her position to favor the mandate.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton revealed a Wall Street reform agenda in October 2015 that would extend the statute of limitations for financial crimes, devote more Department of Justice and SEC resources to investigation and prosecution of financial crimes, place a “fee on risk” aimed at leverage and short-term loans by financial firms, and impose requirements that bonuses paid to senior managers and executives be returned if the bank later loses money and has its financial health imperiled. She has also called for giving regulators the authority to re-organize or break up large firms, without providing details, as well as imposing a tax on high-frequency trading.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation imposing new accounting and investment regulations on companies and has opposed efforts to reform or repeal the Dodd-Frank regulations of the financial industry. She has also opposed efforts to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act’s separation of investment and commercial banking. As part of her rural development agenda, she has proposed simplifying regulations for community banks that often provide credit in rural areas.
She has also proposed increasing the potential rewards for Wall Street whistleblowers who come forward with information, currently capped at $1.6 million, and banning “golden parachute” payouts to persons in the financial industry who go to work for government.
As a senator, Clinton proposed a bill to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers. This was even as she opposed the Bush administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.
She has been dismissive of allegations of widespread problems with the Veterans Health Administration, saying that veterans who get care are generally pleased with it and accusing Republicans of criticizing the agency due to an “ideological agenda.” Following severe criticism from veterans groups and others about her comments, she retracted her statement and weeks later while unveiling her VA reform plan called the problems “serious, systemic, and unacceptable.” Her plan would allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system in certain circumstances, but she has pledged she would oppose plans to privatize most services.
While she opposed many elements of the war on terrorism as a senator, she is generally thought to be more hawkish than most members of her party, having voted for military intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Even within the Obama administration, Clinton was considered to take a relatively proactive posture on military efforts abroad.
She also voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005. Clinton has expressed concern that the international community is not taking the threat of terrorism and war seriously enough.
She has suggested (possibly inaccurately) that Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents exposing domestic surveillance programs before fleeing to China and later Russia, could have come forward as a whistleblower and received protection, but instead broke the law and should face criminal sanctions if and when he returns to the U.S.
According to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Obama while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, Clinton admitted that her opposition to the troop surge in Iraq was based on political concerns and her 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton has denied the charge, saying Gates misunderstood what she had said.
In 2008 Clinton argued that the Iraq War had diverted focus from the fight in Afghanistan and said she would send more troops to that country, and as secretary of state she supported President Obama’s decision for an 18-month “surge” to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida. More recently she has said she agrees with Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through at least 2017.
As secretary of state, Clinton supported military intervention in Libya and the training of Syrian rebels, positions which compelled the administration to take a more aggressive pose. She has spoken against the use of U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS and and recently called for the U.S. to accept 65,000 refugees from the war-torn area. She has also backed the establishment of U.S.-enforced “no fly zones” in Syria and said she would increase the number of U.S. Special Forces personnel on the ground in Syria and Iraq as well as step up airstrikes against ISIS.
She has also called for United Nations sanctions against Iran, and stated that the use of military force against that country should not be taken off the table. In March 2015 she sharply criticized the Republican senators who signed a letter to the Iranian leadership warning them on the limits of a deal that was not ratified by Congress, and she praised the deal that Obama agreed to with Iran in July 2015.
She accused NATO of sliding into “military irrelevance” and fought for tougher sanctions against Russia. She supports financial and military aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists and has described Russia’s annexation of Crimea in harsh terms, comparing it to Nazi aggression. She has also said she favors imposing more sanctions on Russia if it assists Hezbollah in Syria.
As a U.S. senator, Clinton voted against the nominations of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, as well as to Roberts’ elevation to the role of chief justice.
Clinton has praised the court’s opinions in King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges. She has called the court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC “a grave error” and has promised to “do everything I can to appoint Supreme Court justices who protect the right to vote and do not protect the right of billionaires to buy elections.” She has said her Supreme Court nominees must support overturning Citizens United. In terms of the type of nominee she would appoint, she cited those who “respected precedence, felt what life was like for normal Americans, and had a career path outside of school and a conservative think tank.”
She has also promised to “appoint judges to our courts who understand that Roe v. Wade isn’t just binding legal precedent,” but “the touchstone of our reproductive freedom, the embodiment of our most fundamental rights, and no one – no judge, no governor, no Senator, no President – has the right to take it away.”
Clinton has described the U.S Constitution as a “living and working” document.
On crime, Clinton has said she supports the death penalty in “egregious cases” that she thought would be “limited and rare.” She also suggested she favors significant changes to the criminal justice system to address “mass incarceration” and intends to offer specific policy proposals in the future.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection.
Clinton has supported affirmative action policies in the past and is credited with helping to push Bill Clinton’s administration to fill half of all positions with women.
Clinton has generally favored stricter gun control laws, although she has endorsed the idea that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. She supports passage of a new “assault weapons” ban similar to the one passed in 1994, and favors allowing states and localities to determine their own gun laws, possibly including complete bans such as Washington, D.C., once had. She voted against legislation that would have prohibited lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers if their product were used in a crime.
In her 2000 U.S. Senate race she backed federal legislation that would have required gun owners to be licensed and handguns to be registered, but by her 2008 presidential campaign had backed off her support for this. More recently she has called for allowing lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and dealers if their products used in a crime, eliminating the requirement that gun sales be allowed if a background check doesn’t clear the system in 3 days, and imposing background checks on private firearm sales through executive action.
She has been a consistent advocate for abortion rights, most recently criticizing a House bill that would prohibit the procedure after 20 weeks. Her “HillaryCare” proposal in 1994 included language requiring abortion to be covered by all insurance plans. She has said she could not support any U.S. Supreme Court nominee who didn’t support the Roe v. Wade decision.
Clinton recently shifted her longstanding position against same-sex marriage, endorsing it in March 2013 after opposing it during the 2008 campaign. She praised the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Clinton criticized Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that would have allowed individuals, companies, and other organizations the opportunity to claim a religious exemption from having to follow certain laws. She said a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage was “breaking the law by denying other Americans their constitutional rights.” She also denounced the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case that protected the rights of religious business owners to not have to include certain forms of contraception in their employee health plans.
She was a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, along with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators including Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, and Chuck Schumer, but has also endorsed the so-called Equality Act, which could trample the religious freedoms of individuals and organizations who object to same-sex marriage.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection. Clinton supported the Family Entertainment Protection Act, legislation that would regulate the video game industry for violent content.
In the aftermath of the Bush v. Gore decision following the 2000 election, Clinton stated that the electoral college should be scrapped in favor of a national popular vote. She is also on the record asserting Congress ought to be more respectful of presidential authority.
As first lady of Arkansas, Clinton worked to establish teacher testing and tougher state standards for curriculum and classroom size. Clinton has been a supporter of charter schools for several decades, although she has recently criticized them, saying that “most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them.” She further explained that she views the role of charter schools as a way to “learn what worked and then apply them in the public schools.” She remains a backer of charter schools, however.
She also voted in favor of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), though she opposes school choice and any sort of voucher program for low-income students. She has also voiced concerns over what she considers excessive testing of schoolchildren required under NCLB. She has proposed providing federal funds to states that offer universal kindergarten.
She has endorsed Obama’s call for community colleges to be free and has proposed a $350 billion plan to make college more affordable that includes federal funds to states who increase their spending on higher education, reducing loan rates, and requiring colleges to repay some portion of defaulted student loans.