This election campaign has so far been driven more by personality clashes than differences in policy. But what are the key issues, and where do Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand?
Hillary Clinton wants to address income inequality through increased taxes on the wealthy. She has called for a 4% surtax on incomes over $5m, a boost in the capital gains tax, treating “carried interest” income earned by hedge fund managers as income and not capital gains, the closing of “tax loopholes” for the wealthy and an increase in the estate tax. She has also called for higher tax breaks for healthcare and education spending for middle-class families. According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, the top 1% would pay for roughly three-quarters of Mrs Clinton’s tax increases.
According to an analysis from the conservative Tax Foundation, Donald Trump‘s latest plan would cost the US government about $5.9 trillion in revenue over 10 years, about half as much as the proposal he set out last September. Mr Trump’s current plan includes reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, cutting corporate taxes, eliminating the estate tax and increasing the standard deduction for individual filers. According to the Tax Foundation analysis, the top 1% of earners would see their income increase by double-digits, while the bottom quarter gets a boost of up to 1.9%.
Donald Trump says he will create 25 million jobs over 10 years, saying too many jobs, especially in manufacturing, are being lost to other countries. He plans to reduce the US corporate tax rate to 15% from the current rate of 35%, and suggests that investing in infrastructure, cutting the trade deficit, lowering taxes and removing regulations will boost job creation.
Hillary Clinton wants to create jobs by investing in advanced manufacturing, technology, renewable energy, and small businesses. She also plans to increase employment training, funded in part by by tax revenue from wealthier Americans. She says independent experts have estimated her plans will create 10 million new jobs.
Comparing economic plans
This is Donald Trump‘s signature issue. Despite critics who call it unaffordable and unrealistic, the Republican has stood by his call to build an impenetrable wall along the 2,000-plus-mile US-Mexico border. He has also called for reductions in legal immigration, ending President Barack Obama’s executive actions deferring deportation proceedings for undocumented migrants, and more stringent efforts to reduce the number of these migrants living in the US. The candidate has backed away from earlier calls for the forced deportation of the more than 11 million undocumented migrants living on US soil and temporarily closing the US border to all Muslims – but not dropped them.
Hillary Clinton has said she wants to continue and expand upon President Barack Obama’s unilateral executive actions normalising the immigration status of long-term undocumented residents of the US and their families (some of which have been suspended by US courts). She has called for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a means for undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent legal residency and, eventually, US citizenship. She opposes privately run detention facilities and has said a wall is a “dumb way” to ensure border security.
How do Republicans think Trump’s wall would work?
How would Trump deport 11m from the US?
During her tenure as a US senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton earned a reputation as a foreign policy hawk. She supported the US war in Iraq – a position which she says she now regrets – and was one of the leading Obama administration advocates for the US air campaign in Libya. She has called on the US to take on an expanded role in fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria, including the imposition of a no-fly zone and arming Syrian rebels, although she says she opposes the commitment of ground troops (this blanket statement does not seem to include special forces, however). She also supports a continued US military presence in Afghanistan. Mrs Clinton firmly backs the US’s role in Nato, seeing it as important for strengthening European allies and countering Russian power.
Donald Trump has criticised the Iraq War (although his claims that he opposed it from the start are unfounded) and other US military action in the Middle East. He has called for closer relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and says the US must make allies in Europe and Asia shoulder a greater share of the expense for their national defence and emphasises that US foreign policy must always prioritise American interests. On the other hand, Mr Trump has also taken a hard-line stance toward combating IS and has even at times asserted the US should commit tens of thousands of ground troops to the fight. He says Nato should do more to combat terrorism in the Middle East, maintaining that the US foots too much of the bill for the Alliance and that other allies should spend more on their own protection.
Compare the candidates’ foreign policies
Once upon a time, Republicans were the party of unfettered free trade. Donald Trump has changed all that. While he says he is not opposed to trade in principle, any trade deals have to protect US industry. He is firmly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has said that he will re-open negotiations on already signed pacts, such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), and withdraw if US demands are not met. He has accused US trading partners like Mexico and China of unfair trade practices, currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, threatening to unilaterally impose tariffs and other punitive measures if they do not implement reforms.
Hillary Clinton once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard” for international trade agreements. Her husband, Bill Clinton, oversaw the passage of Nafta during his first term in the White House. With public sentiment turning against free trade deals, however, Mrs Clinton has backed away from her earlier support. She has said she now opposes TPP and the Central American Free Trade Agreement as they are currently formulated. “We have to trade with the rest of the world,” she said during a primary debate in February. “But we have failed to provide the basic safety net support that American workers need in order to be able to compete and win in the global economy.”
Donald Trump has been warning that the US policy of admitting refugees from certain regions – the Middle East or, more generally, Muslim nations – presents a serious threat to US national security. He has attempted to bolster his case by citing often debunked internet rumours, such as that Syrian refugees are largely young, single men. He has called for the US to suspend resettling refugees until “extreme vetting” procedures can be implemented, including ideological tests to screen out extremists. He asserts that nations in the Middle East – which have already received millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees – must do more to create safe zones for those fleeing the violence.
Hillary Clinton has called for an increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the US from the current 10,000 annual level to 65,000 – which, Mr Trump likes to point out, is a 550% increase. She cautions that the refugees should be “carefully vetted”, but notes that current procedures already involve a multi-year application process and refugees do not know in which nation they will be settled. She says the US has a history of welcoming those fleeing oppression and violence, which she wants to continue.
Hillary Clinton is largely in the mainstream of the Democratic Party on environmental issues. She says climate change is a threat to American security, supports stringent regulation of the energy industry, and opposes expanded drilling in Alaska and the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada. She has rankled some environmentalists, however, by refusing to back a moratorium on the extraction of oil from shale deposits through the process known as fracking.
Donald Trump has issued no position statements on environmental issues on his website. In speeches and debates, however, he has said he opposes what he views as economically damaging environmental regulations backed by “political activists with extreme agendas”. He says he supports clean water and air, but wants to slash funding to the Environmental Protection Agency. He has also called man-made climate change “a hoax” and said he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement and other international efforts to address the issue.
Hillary Clinton takes the standard Democratic Party line on abortion. She is against efforts to ban the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. She opposes state legislation that increases regulation of abortion providers and is in favour of allowing the federal government to provide funding for non-profit organisations that provide abortion services for rape victims in war zones. She has criticised conservative efforts to cut off government funding for Planned Parenthood’s women’s health efforts because they also provide abortion services.
Donald Trump said in March that abortions should be illegal and he supported “some form of punishment” for women who had them. His campaign quickly backed down from that statement, however, and asserted that the candidate believed the legality of the procedure should be left up to individual states, with any criminal penalties being reserved for abortion providers. He has said he supports an abortion ban exception for “rape, incest and the life of the mother”. He has called for defunding Planned Parenthood. As recently as 2000, Mr Trump supported abortion rights but has said that, like Ronald Reagan, he changed his views on the matter.
LAW AND ORDER
Hillary Clinton has spoken out against “mass incarceration” and mandatory minimum sentences and said that there is still racial bias in police departments that must be addressed. She supports laws prohibiting racial profiling and wants to emphasise rehabilitation over long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders. She says policies allowing police to “stop and frisk” those they suspect of illegal activity have proven ineffective.
Violence and lawlessness is out of control in the US, according to Donald Trump. He says law enforcement agencies are unable to fight crime because of runaway “political correctness” and says they should be allowed to get tough on offenders. He says police profiling is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks on US soil. He supports “stop and frisk”, claiming the policy was highly successful in New York, even though many experts disagree. The practice was ruled unconstitutional and a form of “indirect racial profiling” by a federal judge in the city – a point he was challenged on in his first debate with Ms Clinton.
Hillary Clinton has pledged that no family will spend more than 10% of household income on childcare. She wants to help low-income parents by expanding the state-run programmes and promises to make pre-school education universal for every four-year-old in the US.
Rejecting Republican orthodoxy, Donald Trump has called for six weeks of paid maternity leave, which would amount to what the mother would receive in unemployment benefit. But this would not apply to fathers. As with Mrs Clinton’s childcare expansion, there are no details on how this policy would be paid for.
Clinton’s childcare plan
Unlike previous elections, guns are a key issue, partly because Hillary Clinton has responded to mass shootings by repeating her support for tighter background checks and a ban on assault weapons. She denies the Second Amendment is in peril if she is in the White House.
Donald Trump has blamed some shootings on lax gun laws, saying armed people could have intervened and saved lives. He accuses his opponent of wanting to eliminate gun rights and promises his supporters that the Second Amendment would be safe.