Election 2016: The issues

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article by: Copy Editor Roman Jones

Often during an election year, the general public tends to spend more time critiquing the character of presidential candidates and not nearly enough time analyzing the pertinent issues facing the country as a whole. Questions such as “Is Hillary Clinton trustworthy?” or “Is Donald Trump sexist?” are relevant; however, a more pressing question is “Which candidate should be president and why?”

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Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump after the first presidential debate. photo courtesy of Megynkelly.org.

Regardless of party affiliation, most would agree that the candidate who is granted the presidency ought to be the person who is capable of leading the country in the right direction, a proficient leader who will adequately address the current issues which range from immigration and foreign policy to economy and health-care. The character of a candidate running for president is significant; however, their stance on the problems facing the country and how to solve them is more critical. Here are some of the issues and what each contender has had to say about them.

On the subject of immigration reform, Clinton has gone on record supporting the DREAM Act, legislation that allows conditional residency for undocumented immigrants and a path to being granted eventual citizenship. According to her campaign website, Clinton has also pledged to enact a national Office of Immigrant Affairs if she becomes president. This newly proposed organization would serve to integrate immigrants and refugees more fully into American society by breaking down significant “language, education, and economic barriers” through increasing “federal resources for adult English language education and citizenship education.”

Clinton has been criticized for promoting a path towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants rather than taking the stance of deportation. In Clinton’s view, it is highly impractical for the federal government to attempt to deport mass quantities of undocumented individuals, a process which would be time-consuming and draw heavily from federal funds.

When delivering remarks back in April, after accepting the endorsement of the New York Immigrants Rights Coalition, Clinton stated, “No one who can be a citizen and wants to be a citizen should miss out on doing that.”

On immigration reform, Trump has gone on record stating that his administration would build a wall between the United States and Mexico and that Mexico would pay for this wall. According to Trump’s campaign website, if he becomes president his first order of business would be to begin construction of this wall. Outlined in Trump’s “Pay for the Wall” plan which was also found on the campaign website, Mexico would make a one-time payment to the United States of $5-10 billion for development. Visa fees for immigrants would also increase to help finance the project. Trump then wants to move undocumented “criminal aliens” out of the country through “joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement” and overrule President Obama’s two executive amnesties. In Trump’s view, it is well within the government’s ability to find and deport millions of undocumented individuals.

Trump believes immigrants bring crime. He stated in his announcement speech last year, “They’re [Mexico] sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

On the issue of foreign policy, Clinton has affirmed interest in continuing to provide US foreign aid to Israel, enforcing the nuclear agreement with Iran, and strengthening ties with Cuba. Clinton’s strategy to defeat ISIS and radical jihadism boils down to continuing to bomb their bases of operation, utilizing airstrikes, and working with intelligence agencies in Europe to “dismantle global terror networks” abroad. In an interview last year with CNN, Clinton stated, “Radical jihadists, like so many adversaries in our history, underestimate the strength of our national character. Americans will not cower or cave. And we will not turn on each other or turn on our principles. We will defeat those who threaten us.”

On the issue of halting the spread of terrorism, Trump has remarked, “As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.” In the same speech, Trump stated, “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyber warfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting.”

Trump has also stated he wants to rebuild the military: “We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned.”

When speaking on the economy, Clinton has vowed to make college debt-free and provide Americans with prior debt the means to refinance their student loans. According to Clinton’s campaign website, she also will push for new measures to strengthen Wall Street reform and ensure “the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share.” Clinton has also cited equal pay, childcare and housing, and guaranteed paid leave as important issues her administration will address. Clinton’s campaign website states, “Despite massive shifts in how our economy works today, too many of our policies are outdated and basic protections have not kept up. We need policies that match how we actually live and work in this 21st century economy.”

When speaking on the economy, Trump has cited a plan to create 25 million new jobs for Americans over the next decade. Trump’s plan involves cutting the funding for regulations outlined in policies such as the Waters of the US and the Clean Power Plan. As reported by his campaign website, Trump also wants to enact “tax simplification.” He stated in a speech given at the Detroit Economic Club, “My plan will reduce the current number of [tax] brackets from 7 to 3, and dramatically streamline the process. We will work with House Republicans on this plan, using the same brackets they have proposed: 12, 25 and 33 percent. For many American workers, their tax rate will be zero.”

Lastly, on the subject of health-care, Clinton has pledged to expand the Affordable Care Act to cover more people regardless of immigration status, defend reproductive care for women, and lower the cost of prescription drugs. On her campaign website, Clinton stated, “As your president, I want to build on the progress we’ve made. I’ll do more to bring down healthcare costs for families, ease burdens on small businesses, and make sure consumers have the choices they deserve. And frankly, it is finally time for us to deal with the skyrocketing out-of-pocket health costs, and particularly run-away prescription drug prices.”

Remarking on healthcare, Trump wants Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and instead push for Americans to be allowed the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs would be required by law to be tax-free and apart of an individual’s estate so they “could be passed on to heirs,” as reported by the campaign website. Trump states, “To reform healthcare in America, we need a President who has the leadership skills, will and courage to engage the American people and convince Congress to do what is best for the country. These straightforward reforms, along with many others I have proposed throughout my campaign, will ensure that together we will Make America Great Again.”

Immigration, foreign policy, the economy, and healthcare are only a few of the major issues facing America today. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have presented contrasting views and plans on how to address them. It is up to the American people to ultimately decide who they want to represent them as their president.

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