Trump and Clinton on the issues: A cheat sheet for the candidates’ positions

In this long and sometimes exhausting campaign, you’ve probably heard more attacks on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than you can count. Now that we’ve almost reached the end, it’s time to go through the actual facts — what are the candidates’ actual positions on the issues? Here’s a breakdown, topic by topic, for Trump and Clinton. We include a breakdown of their scandals at the end.

Tax policy and the economy

Clinton’s tax policy would taxes for the wealthy and closing corporate loopholes. She claims that her tax and spending policies, taken together, would not add a “penny to the debt” — which experts say is possible, depending on the yet-unreleased details of her business taxes.

Clinton’s tax increases would go toward paying for college tuition assistance, paid family leave and preserving social security.

Trump’s tax policy would involve cuts for most high-earners, with large cuts for businesses. His policy would also raise taxes on lower- and middle-income earners.

Trump’s policies would increase the debt by up to $3.9 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation — to put that in context, the U.S. government’s budget was $3.7 trillion in 2015.

Trump’s plan doesn’t consist of more government spending. He argues that tax cuts will allow the economy to grow on its own. Trump is right that growth could occur: If his plan passed, the overall economy might grow by 8.2 percent more than it would have, a huge jump of about 45 percent. But that estimate does not include the negative effects of debt under the plan.

Read about why debt can negatively affect the economy here and here.

On job creation

Clinton has said that her economic policies would create 10 million new jobs over 10 years. Her claim is misleading — the number is really about 3.2 million new jobs, with the other 7 million being created based on the economy’s current trajectory.

She would spend more on rebuilding roads, bridges and other constructed features of the country (all called “infrastructure”), which can allow businesses to operate more efficiently. She would also allow more immigration into the United States, a policy that could bring more skilled workers into the economy. Clinton would invest in clean energy industries, which can also create jobs.

Trump has said his policies would create 25 million new jobs in that time frame, but how many jobs either plan would actually create is up for debate. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation said Trump’s tax plan alone could create over 2.1 million jobs over the next decade, while Clinton’s tax plan alone would lose 311,000. It didn’t account for the effects of added debt, though, so it’s hard to consider it accurate.

Respected economist Mark Zandi said Trump’s entire economic plan would lose 3.5 million jobs over four years, while Clinton’s plan would create 3.2 additional jobs in the same time frame. It’s important to note Zandi is a Clinton supporter.

Stance on minimum wage

Clinton plans on raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour nationally, while Trump has flip-flopped several times on the issue. It is reasonable to assume he is not in favor of raising it, instead preferring businesses to make their own decisions.

Whether it’s beneficial to raise the minimum wage is a debate that has no entirely clear answer. Research has argued that the wage benefits outweigh the marginal job losses that a moderate raise can cause, but experts cannot say if that pattern will hold true for the large increase proposals that are currently popular, like Clinton’s.

On trade policy

Clinton is in favor of international trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. She does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership — but she shifted her stance from supporting it before.

Trump opposes the TPP and NAFTA, but whether he actually plans to address his qualms with trade is dubious. He’s also been inconsistent on whether he’s for or against free trade.

Read more on the ins-and-outs of trade policy here.

Positions regarding minorities

Clinton has said some questionable things regarding minorities in the past, but during this campaign has attempted to come across as the better candidate for minority rights.

In the first debate she talked about potential reforms to address the disproportionate punishment of blacks in the criminal justice system, and she’s talked about addressing discrimination in education and housing.

Clinton has called Trump out for Islamophobia on several occasions. She says that the U.S. is not at war with Islam, and that Muslims living in the country should not be treated as if it is.

Trump has used offensive language toward blacks and Mexican immigrants, once proposed that Muslims be banned from coming into the U.S. and has insulted racial groups in other ways.

Trump’s record of offensive speech toward women is extensive. We usually don’t cite Cosmopolitan, but its list is demonstrative.

Stance on gun control

Clinton plans to implement expanded background checks — closing the gun show and internet sales loopholes — and push for policies that prevent potentially violent people from getting guns. She supports keeping assault weapons “off [America’s] streets,” and she supported banning assault weapons as a senator.

Trump’s positions on gun control have fluctuated. He used to support an assault weapons ban, but now does not support banning any kinds of guns or magazines. Like Clinton, he supports preventing people on the airline terrorist watch list from buying guns. Trump says he wants to defend the Second Amendment and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

On immigration policy

Clinton plans to pass a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. That would include refraining from deporting undocumented immigrants if they arrived before age 16, or if they are parents of such immigrants or green card holders — continuing those policies put in place by President Barack Obama. 

Trump criticizes those policies as “amnesty,” and would not allow undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the U.S. He has proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and has said he’ll force Mexico to pay for it.

It is worth noting that the U.S.-Mexico border is already lined with fences, barriers and other security, but Trump’s wall would presumably be more extensive. Here are some facts about immigration in recent years.

Positions on foreign policy

Foreign policy is complicated, so we’ll let the scholars do the talking. A more in-depth breakdown of Trump and Clinton’s policies is here.

Stance on college tuition

Clinton plans to make college debt-free for families who make up to $125,000 per year, who would pay no college tuition under her proposal. She would also change the requirements on paying debt. The policies would be financed through her tax plan.

Trump says he’ll push colleges to keep costs low, but has not specified how that would work. He would make a small change to the way people pay debt.

Stance on health care

Clinton would keep in place the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Clinton says she has a plan to lower Obamacare’s rising costs of insurance, claiming that she’ll attempt to give the federal government the authority to control premium rate increases. Whether that could plausibly pass through Congress is unclear.

Trump would repeal Obamacare and leave health insurance to the markets, the way it was before the ACA. He would allow people to deduct their health care premiums on their taxes, but that wouldn’t have any effect for most people.

It’s important to note that repealing Obamacare could increase the federal deficit by $137 billion over 10 years, and could cause 24 million people to become uninsured, according to one study.

On police and criminal justice

Clinton wants to encourage better relations between police and their communities, and is a critic of stop-and-frisk policies. She wants to change minimum sentencing laws, and push for efforts to teach police what type of force is appropriate in certain situations, although she has not been specific on how those efforts would work.

Trump has said he’d take stop-and-frisk policies nationwide. In theory, he says he’s for fostering better relations between communities and police, but his “law and order”-themed rhetoric, partly based on stop-and-frisk, suggests otherwise. He says the country needs more police, but it’s unclear how he would pay for that.

Clinton’s scandals

There have been three scandals which have plagued Clinton’s campaign, all centered around two different issues with her emails.

First, there was the investigation of the private email server during her time as secretary of state. It was conducted in order to determine whether Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information, and concluded with the recommendation that no charges be filed. Read a full breakdown of the scandal here.

Another email scandal was set off by Wikileaks, an organization that leaked documents in July that showed that the Democratic National Convention had a strong pro-Clinton bias. While these emails do show top Democratic officials denouncing Sen. Bernie Sanders, there is no direct connection to the Clinton campaign. 

Another set released by Wikileaks in October included excerpts from paid speeches Clinton delivered to several Wall Street banks. These emails not only showed Clinton as being more sympathetic to Wall Street than her pro-middle class rhetoric would suggest, but also raised questions about her charity, the Clinton Foundation.

Another iteration of the first email scandal erupted last week, when the FBI announced that it would once again review emails Clinton and her aides sent while she was secretary of state.

The FBI did not say whether it would reopen the original investigation, though they may if they find classified information in the new set of emails. Here is a breakdown of what this most recent part of the Clinton email scandal could mean moving forward.

Trump’s scandals

Trump’s campaign has been punctuated by several scandal-esque events, most centering around the racially offensive rhetoric we mentioned above.

The largest and most recent scandal involved his sexually abusive comments on a leaked video from 2005, publicized by NBC and The Washington Post. Trump’s treatment of women in general has been well-documented and well-criticized. Read a history of that here.

Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Emily McPeak at

Contact CU Independent Editorial Manager Ellis Arnold at, and on Twitter @ArnoldEllis_.

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The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that’s for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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