Hillary Clinton: perhaps one of the most liked and most disliked people ever in U.S. politics. Democrats love her. Republicans despise her. As she runs for president in 2016, she is the second least liked person ever to compete for the office–only beaten out in that regard by Donald Trump, who also happens to be the presumptive Republican nominee. Regardless of her personality or alleged scandals of the past, Clinton’s policies deserve to be analyzed unbiasedly using data and logic. In the United States, perhaps unfortunately there are essentially only two people on the ballot for president. There are primaries and third-party candidates, but the American people really only have the choice between two people: the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze both Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s policy proposals. As I have already done for the former in On Trump, I feel it fair and necessary to do the same for the latter. Just as I did regarding Trump, I will cite Clinton’s campaign website explicitly to ensure that credibility is ensured and arguments are accurately based on actual policy proposals. The chosen proposals specifically entail economic or international impact, thus, demonstrating how effective or not Clinton would be at solving some of this nation’s greatest challenges.
Campaign finance reform
“Our democracy should work for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Hillary will: overturn Citizens United; end secret, unaccountable money in politics; establish a small-donor matching system to amplify the voices of everyday Americans.”
Clinton proposes eliminating the opinion of Citizens United by both appointing justices that vow to overturn the decision and pushing the states and Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the decision. However, as I argue in How to Wage a “Political Revolution,” Citizens United alone is not the source of political corruption; other decisions also created this rigged system, and other realities like lobbying and gerrymandering cause political corruption. These proposed tactics of Clinton’s alone most likely will not be feasible as I argue in the other article. However, her goal is notable, and some of her other tactics may bring success. She “will also promote an SEC (Securities & Exchanged Commission) rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose political spending to shareholders.” This type of rule would at the very least bypass the gridlock of Congress since the SEC is an executive branch agency. Additionally, the rule could provide transparency to shareholders and discourage companies from attempting to influence politicians with dark money. In regard to Clinton’s proposed small-donor matching system, further detail is not given; therefore, the program cannot be effectively evaluated.
Climate change and clean energy
“Making America the world’s clean energy superpower and meeting the climate challenge. Hillary will: create good-paying jobs by making the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century; set national goals to have 500 million solar panels installed; generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America; cut energy waste in homes, schools, and hospitals by a third; and reduce American oil consumption by a third; lead the world in the fight against climate change by bringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below what they were in 2005 within the next decade—and keep going.”
As I argue in Climate Change: It’s Getting Hot in Here & That’s Very Bad, global warming is a serious reality that our nation and world must address. Therefore, Clinton’s goals are on the right track. However, specifically speaking her goals may be too ambitious for the set deadlines. Experts say that the installation of 500 million solar panels would be unprecedented for the nation but would not be impossible. Additionally, powering every single home in the U.S. with renewable energy will require massive infrastructure improvements. These objectives in and of themselves may be higher than most think realistic, and they will of course face opposition if Congress remains Republican controlled, but they are nonetheless the correct path for the country if we do not wish to face future costs and deaths in the future due to higher temperatures, higher sea levels, and more pollution. Additionally, the economic impact of investing in solar panels and green energy could increase trade, international investment within the U.S., and employment for workers in need of transitioning from non-renewable industries.
“The New College Compact: Costs won’t be a barrier, debt won’t hold you back. Hillary will: ensure no student has to borrow to pay for tuition, books, or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state; enable Americans with existing student loan debt to refinance at current rates; hold colleges and universities accountable for controlling costs and making tuition affordable.”
As I argue in Higher Ed, Higher Cost: Solving the Education Crisis, college tuition and costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades far higher than inflation. Since a college degree is becoming necessary for virtually all high-paying jobs in the country, controlling these costs is critical. Similar to President Obama’s plan, Clinton’s proposal includes making community college tuition free. This method could allow qualifying Americans the chance to obtain a crucial college degree so that they then have the power to obtain high-skilled jobs and, thus, stimulate the economy through increased consumption and potential business creation. In addition to making community college free, Clinton plans to make four-year public college debt free for most Americans. Her proposal includes requiring students to work at least 10 hours per week and requiring families to make a reasonable, affordable contribution. These requirements differ from Senator Sander’s free public college plan, which does not require any work or financial contribution from students. Clinton also claims she will hold colleges accountable in order to control costs, but details on such are scant.
The plan will reportedly cost about $350 billion over ten years, which will be arguably full paid for by “limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers.” For such an expensive plan, this payment explanation is arguably vague. However, as I argue in The American Dream: Reality or Just…A Dream?, the wealthiest few in this country deserve to be contributing more in taxes than at present. The economic impact of such a plan and financing should be positive as previous decades included higher taxes on the rich yet higher economic growth rates. Additionally, providing more Americans with the opportunity to obtain skills needed for the workforce should invigorate the economy via higher employment and consumption.
Criminal justice reform
“Our criminal justice system is out of balance. Hillary will: end the era of mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, and end private prisons; encourage the use of smart strategies—like police body cameras—and end racial profiling to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities; help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society.”
In order to address the current outcry from groups like Black Lives Matter, Clinton aims to invest in various areas that hopefully will better train law enforcement on possible biases and on when to use deadly force. This may be effective in that some experts claim that police simply need to be trained better in order to avoid unnecessary deaths of suspects.
In order to reduce the current levels of mass incarceration, Clinton plans to turn the law’s focus away from nonviolent offenders and more toward violent crimes. She also plans to reduce mandatory minimum sentencing requirements so that nonviolent offenders are in jail for less time. These steps should be effective in reducing the U.S.’s disproportionate share of prisoners, especially those who are nonviolent. This will help reduce government spending on incarceration and will help police officers focus on crimes that are truly a danger to communities. Additionally, these steps to reduce the focus on drug users will promote the idea that drug abuse is a health care issue rather than a criminal issue. Additionally, Clinton’s plan to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II drug could promote research into the possible medical benefits of the drug.
In order to further reduce levels of mass incarceration, Clinton plans to combat recidivism. She will do this by “taking executive action to ‘ban the box’ for federal employers and contractors, so that applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records; supporting legislation to restore voting rights to individuals who have served their sentences.” These steps could help past offenders to have a second chance at obtaining economic success that will dissuade them from ever committing crimes again.
Early childhood education
“Every child deserves the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. Hillary will: invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start; ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years; provide child care and scholarships to meet the needs of student parents.”
Studies show that some of the most critical years for a future adult’s success is when they are a small child. These years form the basis for how motivated children will be later in life. Due to this fact, investment in early education is critical and could have multiplier effects for the long-term economy. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders; thus, Clinton’s plans to expand universal preschool may strengthen the future generations of American leaders.
“A plan to raise American incomes. Hillary will: give working families a raise, and tax relief that helps them manage rising costs; create good-paying jobs and get pay rising by investing in infrastructure, clean energy, and scientific and medical research to strengthen our economy and growth; close corporate tax loopholes and make the most fortunate pay their fair share.”
As I discussed in The American Dream: Reality or Just…A Dream?, the average American workers has not seen incredible economic success in decades. This is due to policies that have favored tax cuts for the richest over investing in training programs and infrastructure projects, which would give workers the skills and jobs they need to move up the economic ladder.
Tax cuts for working families will allow Americans to keep more of their money, which will turn into greater consumption within the economy. Consumption is 70% of the American economy, and average Americans spend almost all of their income in a given year on consumption. Given these facts, empowering workers’ pocketbooks has a great chance of boosting economic growth.
On the flip side, she will reward via tax credits businesses that share their profits with their workers. This will encourage greater investment in raising workers’ wages and benefits, which will also begin to close the income inequality gap. Along with this incentive, Clinton plans to assist small businesses by cutting bureaucratic tape, expanding tax credits, and expanding access to capital and new markets. These details are arguably vague, yet the purpose is vital as small businesses make up almost 50% of U.S. economic value.
Pertaining to the richest Americans, Clinton plans to ensure that millionaires do not pay lower effective tax rates than average Americans. Interestingly, the top 1%’s tax burden has fallen drastically in the past few decades while economic growth has grown smaller at the same time. Correlation is not causation, yet certainly giving the wealthiest Americans every break has not stimulated dramatic growth. Instead, that revenue can be used to fund critical programs that can begin to close the income inequality gap.
Additionally, in order to train the American workforce for greater economic mobility, Clinton’s college plan and job training investments can provide workers the skills they need to reach higher-paying jobs. In order to strengthen workers further, Clinton plans to implemented a $12 federal minimum wage and continue the Obama Administration’s rule of expanding overtime to more salaried workers. As I argue in Why Raise the Wage?, raising the minimum wage to the correct level gain regain for workers some of the value it had lost in recent years. These policies will provide more Americans with the money they need to afford necessities and invest in critical services like education.
Also, on top of training the workforce and allowing the private sector to invest more in its workers and new endeavors, the federal government can further stimulate economic growth by investing in infrastructure projects. This can prove thousands of jobs to blue-collar Americans, which will put money in their pockets, which they can spend on consumer goods, multiplying the effect of that government investment throughout the economy.
Gun violence prevention
“It is past time we act on gun violence. Hillary will: strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in the current system; hold irresponsible dealers and manufacturers accountable; keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill.”
As I argued in A Nation at War with Itself: America’s Gun Violence Crisis, there are concrete steps that government can take in order to prevent the unparalleled carnage seen in the U.S. in past years. Clinton’s plan to universalize background checks can ensure that weapons do not enter the hands of any person who has committed crimes previously. Additionally, she will strengthen the FBI so that it can conduct every single background check not allowing any to fall through the cracks like that of the Charleston, S.C. shooter.
Additionally, many mass shootings are perpetrated by people who have actually never before committed a crime. Therefore, mere background checks would not prevent weapons from falling into these people’s hands. Thus, Clinton calls for an assault weapons ban like the one in place during the 1990’s yet had expired in the 2000’s. Now, some semi-automatic weapons are necessary for hunting and ensuring quality meat, but military-style weapons are unnecessary for civilians to possess and are actually a danger to the country if left in the wrong hands.
In order to solve some of this dilemma, I argue for an extended magazine ban so that even assault weapons cannot be shot endlessly toward crowds of innocent people. Clinton does not support this explicitly on her website but may in reality.
In order to prevent criminals from obtaining weapons from innocent people through straw purchasing, Clinton plans to make this act a federal crime. People who aid criminals for their own personal profit should be held accountable as these types of acts have perpetrated violent gang violence in cities like Chicago. Clinton does not support a gun registry explicitly, but I argue such would ensure that a gun can always be traced back to its original owner, which can reduce future straw purchasing.
Now, Clinton also supports holding gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for being “negligent” in selling weapons that are later used in crime. Perhaps Clinton is not being clear on this matter, because as long as a weapon is obtained legally, a dealer and manufacturers should not be held accountable for what is done with it. However, if that dealer or manufacturers negligently sell a weapon illegally or make a fault weapon, respectively, there should be consequences.
On the whole, these steps should make at least some progress in preventing further mass shootings in the United States.
“Affordable health care is a basic human right. Hillary will: defend the Affordable Care Act and build on it to slow the growth of out-of-pocket costs; crack down on rising prescription drug prices and hold drug companies accountable so they get ahead by investing in research, not jacking up costs; protect women’s access to reproductive health care, including contraception and safe, legal abortion.”
As I argue in Obamacare: Separating Fact from Fear, much progress has been made under the new law. The reform is still relatively new, yet healthcare costs have already begun slowing and the uninsured rate has fallen to historic lows. Still deductibles and premiums have a while to go before being truly manageable to all Americans, but the progress is largely positive. After all, the reform bill is a long-term plan to lower healthcare costs and improve Americans’ health.
Bringing more people into the market will broaden the risk pool increasing cost sharing and making everyone’s plan less expensive. That is the goal of the law, and by the very nature of everyone having insurance, hopefully people will take more preventative actions so that they do not become sick later down the road and cost the healthcare system more money. Clinton wants to further increase the risk pool by allowing even undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance. Then, fewer immigrants will have to resort to emergency rooms for care, which is much more expensive than visiting a primary care physician.
Clinton wishes to continue down this path while making some adjustments. In order to further lower healthcare costs, Clinton wishes to implement the public option which was in the original Affordable Care Act which passed in the House but failed in the Senate. As I argue in my other article, the public option would most likely have a great downward effect on healthcare costs as it makes the government a large bargaining power in the market. Additionally, Clinton wishes to expand Medicaid further, which could add to the government’s bargaining power for lower costs.
One of the biggest costs for Medicare is the unparalleled prices of prescription drugs in the U.S.
One reason why drug prices are so high in the U.S. is that Congress signed away Medicare’s ability to bargain with companies for lower prices. Thus, Medicare must essentially just accept any price given. That does not allow for market competition driving down prices and improving quality. Clinton wants to reinstate Congress’ ability to bargain, which should bring down drug prices for Americans. Additionally, Clinton wants to ensure that all states experience competition for low insurance prices; she will attempt to achieve this by enforcing antitrust laws so that companies cannot merge to form monopolies.
The continued implementation of the ACA along with these new reforms will hopefully resume the trend of falling healthcare spending and reduced increases in insurance premiums.
“America needs comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Hillary will: enact comprehensive immigration reform to create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows; defend President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents, and extend those actions to additional persons with sympathetic cases if Congress refuses to act; promote naturalization and support immigrant integration; end family detention and close private immigrant detention centers.”
As I argue in On Trump, illegal immigrants actually have a net positive effect on the U.S. economy: “[R]esearch has shown that illegal immigration does not actually lead to lower wages and fewer jobs for Americans. ‘Why? The law of comparative advantage says we get more productive when we have more trading partners, and the arrival of undocumented workers with limited English skills frees up low-skill American workers who can then specialize in tasks that require better English’ (31). Furthermore, illegal immigrants may actually stimulate the American economy through their consumption at American stores. This consumption always includes sales tax; therefore, these immigrants are also paying taxes! One study ‘estimates about a third of such immigrants nationally are homeowners, subjecting them to property tax payments. Another 50 percent are believed to pay income taxes. And as much as 75 percent of the population is believed to pay into the U.S. Social Security system (a system of benefits they wouldn’t be eligible to receive anyway unless they became U.S. citizens).’ These tax contributions amount to $12 billion every year (32). If the United States deports all 11 million of these people, this tax revenue would cease to fund the government, and immigrants’ purchases would no longer go to American businesses.”
As long as we can ensure that we know who is coming into the country for security reasons, workers should be able to come here and achieve the American Dream. All the while they are paying taxes and stimulating the economy through their consumption and work. As long as they are lawful and join the back of the citizenship line, they should be able to stay, become citizens, and continue contributing to the American economy. It is in the spirit of the Statue of Liberty to accept anyone who is trying to escape war-torn or poverty-stricken countries so that they too can have an equal opportunity at achieving economic success for themselves and their children.
“When unions are strong, America is strong. Hillary will: strengthen unions and protect worker bargaining power; raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules; support working families through equal pay, paid family leave, earned sick days, fair schedules, and quality affordable child care.”
As I argue in The Importance of Labor: Past, Present, & Future, the right to collectively bargain is crucial in balancing workers’ power with the power of massive corporations. Workers are limited in their ability to switch jobs whenever convenient. Therefore, they must often accept any job they can find even if it does not pay as well as desired or does not grant all desired benefits. Due to this fact, workers need the ability to band together as one voice in the form of a union to demand that they never be exploited for their hard work. In addition to raising wages, Clinton supports paid family and medical leave, which the rest of the developed world already requires. Studies show that getting time away to be with family or to heal from a sickness increases future worker satisfaction and productivity. Quarterly capitalism only cares about cutting costs today, yet investing in workers will increase gains in the long term.
“Manufacturing is critical to the U.S. economy. Hillary will: strengthen America’s investment in manufacturing; create tax incentives to encourage investment in the hardest-hit manufacturing communities; crack down on trade violations to level the global playing field for American workers.”
As Hillary Clinton argues, free trade is an overall positive for the world. It lifts up workers’ wages around the world and allows the importing of inexpensive consumer goods for Americans. It also frees up Americans to achieve higher skilled jobs. This is what I argue in The Economics of Bernie Sanders; however, these policies must also invest in job training programs so that displaced American workers gain the skills to succeed in new job opportunities. Additionally, policies must fight monopolies that hinder the competition that would drive down prices and increase quality for American consumers. Additionally, countries like China in the past have intentionally manipulated their currencies to suck manufacturing out of the U.S. Clinton wants to enact policies that do not hinder trade or enact expensive tariffs but rather protect American workers while allowing for the laws of comparative advantage to work.
“With policies that keep us strong and safe, America can lead the world in the 21st century. Hillary will: keep America safe and secure by defending our core values and leading with principle; defeat ISIS and global terrorism and the ideologies that drive it; strengthen our alliances and nurture new relationships to tackle shared challenges such as climate change, cyber threats, and highly contagious diseases.”
Hillary Clinton understands that defeating terrorism is not just about killing terrorists but also fighting an idea. If we are not cautious about how to carefully dismantle ISIS and its allies, we can create even more terrorist sentiment. That is why Clinton has denounced harmful tactics like Donald Trump’s proposed banned on Muslim immigration which further alienates that community. She has also distinguished the difference between peaceful Muslims and those who pervert the religion. Furthermore, she understands that putting ground troops down to fight ISIS will only help its recruitment efforts in that ISIS believes that the U.S. coming to its territory fulfills a theological prophecy.
However, Clinton must also increase her caution in her support of drone strikes against ISIS. If not done carefully, innocent civilians can be killed which can further increase terrorist sentiments. Therefore, it is crucial for moral and strategic reasons to be very diligent in how the U.S. conducts these strikes.
Additionally, Clinton did err in her vote for the Iraq war. This unprovoked attack on the Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein was based on the false premise that the dictator had weapons of mass destruction. While the man was horrendous in that he killed innocent people, removing him left a power vacuum that was only filled with more corruption and instability. Of course, with the Middle East almost no action will be perfect as there are too many overlapping alliances and too much opportunity for conflict and power grabbing. The U.S. acted against the United Nation’s (UN) recommendations by invading Iraq, and arguably this decision allowed for ISIS to have the power to rise up and control territory in Iraq. Hillary Clinton’s arguable mistake in voting for the war was due to a sort of liberal interventionism which aligned with President George W. Bush’s Neo-conservatism. Both believed in the effort to spread democracy around the world, and arguably Saddam Hussein stood in the way of that effort. However, too little concern was given for the aftermath of the war, which created ever more chaos that was present under Hussein. To blame the Senators like Clinton who voted for the war is questionable as the blame may primarily fall on the Bush Administration for not handling well the aftermath of the invasion.
Having learned from this, Clinton knows that forming alliances is crucial to making the right international decisions. When we act multilaterally, we more often make the right decision with the lest disastrous consequences. That is why our participation in organizations like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is so critical. There we can form policies that are best for the world. Through these alliances, we have been able to address concerns like climate change, cybersecurity, and disease which are almost as or just as threatening as terror groups like ISIS.
Another alliance was responsible for forming a nuclear agreement with Iran than Clinton helped negotiate. Due to this deal, future war was hopefully avoided through the diplomatic process of relieving sanctions on the country in return for an end to its nuclear program. Because of this, Israel and its allies have less to fear.
Social Security and Medicare
“We must preserve, protect, and strengthen these lifelines. Hillary will: fight any effort to privatize or weaken Medicare and Social Security, and expand Social Security for today’s beneficiaries and generations to come by asking the wealthiest to contribute more; reform our health care system to incentivize and reward quality care; demand lower prices for prescription drugs for seniors receiving Medicare; expand Social Security benefits for widows and those who took time out of the paid workforce to care for a child or sick family member.”
Entitlement programs are a double-edged sword in that they are so critical to ensuring that our nation’s elderly do not fall into poverty, yet the programs are costing the government more and more to fund. Efforts to combat this have included privatizing Social Security, which would place workers’ plans onto the stock market. There they could be able to earn a higher return, yet the market is often vocative. This means that if someone is looking to retire when the market crashes, significant portions of their savings could be eliminated. Another plan is to raise the retirement age, yet this would disproportionately harm the poor if that they are not living as long as wealthier Americans. This is the group we wish to most protect–not harm. In order to finance Social Security, Clinton instead wishes to raise the cap on the income on which wealthy Americans have to pay Social Security taxes. She does not provided exact numbers for doing so, but this could help finance the program a little longer, but more reform may be necessary.
Veterans, the armed forces, and their families
“America must fully commit to supporting veterans. Hillary will: put our veterans needs first by ensuring access to timely and high quality care and blocking efforts to privatize the VA; ensure that the men and women who risk their lives for our country have access to a good education and good jobs when they come home by solidifying services and programs that connect veterans to jobs after their service; strengthen services and support for military families who serve alongside our service members.”
Clinton wishes to make the Veteran’s Affairs healthcare sector more efficient to veterans by integrating with private insurance when necessary but not allowing the VA to be privatized. Doing so could lessen the government’s bargaining power and raise healthcare costs. Additionally, Clinton wishes to protect whistleblowers to ensure greater accountability at the VA so that inefficiencies can be reported and fixed. Clinton also wishes to increase funding for veteran mental healthcare so that veterans can obtain the support they need upon returning from duty.
On the economic side, Clinton proposes increased tax credits and benefits for veterans so that they can obtain education and job training to reenter the workforce. These Americans who have served our country deserve the opportunity to have a successful life at home after their work is finished.
Wall Street reform
“Wall Street must work for Main Street. Hillary will: veto Republican efforts to repeal or weaken Dodd-Frank; tackle dangerous risks in the big banks and elsewhere in the financial system; hold both individuals and corporations accountable when they break the law.”
The 2008 economic crash was primarily caused by the reckless behavior of Wall Street banks. These institutions acted far too riskily in the name of making short-term profits. Due to this reality, Hillary Clinton supports continuing the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act which regulates the areas the Wall Street abused in 2008. Additionally, Clinton wishes to penalizes banks via fees that verge on risky practices. Clinton plans to empower regulators to step in when a bank becomes too large and to risky for the health of the financial system. She also wishes to be able to prosecute bank executives so that they can be held accountable when their decisions lead to American workers’ losing their life savings and jobs. Americans also have a more difficult time keeping up the value of their 401(k) retirement plans when banks have the computerized ability to high-frequency trade giving themselves an unfair advantage; thus, Clinton wants to tax such behavior so that Americans are on a more level playing field.
In almost every area, Hillary Clinton hopes to improve on the progress of President Obama. The economy is strong under the current president, yet her plans demonstrate a willingness to invest in various areas so that the American worker can be given new opportunity to obtain better jobs and higher pay. From universal preschool to debt-free college to job training programs to infrastructure investment to immigration reform to tax credits for workers and worker-focused businesses, Clinton aims to make the American economy more robust than ever. Of course, some details are lacking and Congress will have to approve most of her plans if elected, but on the whole Secretary Clinton’s goals seem to be the right path to follow in order to make this country more fair and more prosperous for the American people.