Day two of the Republican National Convention could provide a crucial springboard for Donald Trump’s upstart run for the White House.
The official theme of the gathering in Cleveland on Tuesday — “Make America work again” — plays into the presumptive GOP nominee’s appeal to the millions of Americans who, polls show, fear for their economic prospects and look at globalization with suspicion. No surprise, then, that the speakers scheduled to speak today at the convention include Republican heavyweights House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
For Trump, a focus on issues such as trade and taxes is an opportunity to highlight his plans for energizing a U.S. economy that continues to show the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, as well as to attack Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
For the Republican leadership, the day’s speeches are a chance to signal that the party is unified, even after some delegates on Monday sought to stage what was effectively a protest vote against party rules.
Achieving harmony has proved difficult with Trump, an avowed political outsider who has underlined his willingness to go against mainstream Republican views.
Of course, whomever wins in November is certain to face obstacles, with many observers expecting a reprise of the divided Congress and bitter partisanship that has paralyzed Washington in recent years. As the convention rolls on, here’s a cheat sheet for where Trump and Clinton stand on key economic and business issues.
Trump: In his biggest departure from the traditional Republican script, Trump has attacked international trade agreements including NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), labeling them a “disaster” for average Americans. He also frequently rails against China, vowing to declare the world’s second-biggest economy a currency manipulator and threatening to impose tariffs.
Clinton: The presumptive Democratic nominee, who as U.S. Secretary of State referred to the TPP in 2012 as the “gold standard” of trade pacts, has walked a finer line. During the Democratic primaries, Clinton accused rival candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of being reflexively anti-trade, while at the same time seeking to win over left-leaning voters by highlighting her own willingness to challenge deals that further open up the global economy. She now say she opposes the TPP.
Trump: Pledging to deliver tax relief for middle-class Americans, Trump has proposed simplifying the tax code by establishing three tax brackets (10/20/25 percent). As part of that plan, he would nearly quadruple the standard tax deduction from $6,300 to $25,000 for individuals and from $12,600 to $50,000 for married couples. Some 75 million Americans — single people earning less than $25,000 and married couples making less than $50,000 — would pay no federal income tax. He also has vowed to eliminate the “carried interest” loophole, which lets high-earning hedge fund and private equity executives pay taxes on much of their income at the preferred 23.8 percent rate on capital gains, as well as to phase out the tax exemption on life insurance interest for wealthier Americans.
Critics say top income earners would still fare better under Trump’s tax proposal than average Americans would because of his plan to cut taxes on all businesses to 15 percent, from the current 35 percent. Trump also wants to eliminate the federal estate and gift taxes and allow U.S. multinationals to repatriate profits earned abroad on a one-time basis at a greatly reduced tax rate. Opponents say that both policies would also disproportionately benefit the rich.
Clinton: She would raise taxes on top income earners, including a 4 percent surcharge on annual income of more than $5 million and a 30 percent minimum tax on people making more than $1 million. Clinton also would restore the federal estate tax, now at 40 percent on estates of at least $5.45 million, to its 2009 rate of 45 percent and reduce the exemption threshold to $3.5 million. Like Trump, she would repeal the alternative minimum tax.
Trump: Although Trump blames globalization for hurting the middle class, he has not detailed what policies he would put in place to increase the number, and quality, of jobs in the U.S.
For instance, Trump has said that the nation’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is too low. But he also opposes a federal move to raise the baseline pay for workers and has said a wage hike should be up to the states.
Clinton: She has proposed lifting the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour and ending the reduced pay floor for tipped workers, which now stands at $2.13 per hour. Clinton also favors making it easier for Americans to join a union; backs national paid family and medical leave, including at least 12 weeks for the birth of a child or to deal with a serious illness; and supports a federal plan to bar banks, credit card and other companies from requiring customers to waive their rights to join a class-action lawsuit.
Trump: He wants to scale back or dismantle Dodd-Frank, which Trump claims burdens banks with excessive regulations. But he has yet to detail how he would change the 2010 law, which was passed after the housing crash to shore up America’s financial system.
Clinton: She has vowed to strengthen parts of Dodd-Frank and to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency formed under the reform measure. Clinton, accused by critics of being too cozy with Wall Street, has proposed imposing an annual “risk fee” on financial firms adjudged “too big to fail” and to make it easier for regulators to fine individual executives.
Although the former New York Senator has backed a tax on some kinds of high-frequency trading, the proposal stops short of the broader “financial transactions tax” on all securities trading that some experts say would tamp down speculation while boosting government revenue.
Trump: He has come out strongly in favor of the fossil fuels industry, calling for measures to protect the coal industry, expressing support for the Keystone XL pipeline and trumpeting the benefits of natural gas. Trump also rejects evidence that people are contributing to global warming, previously referring to climate change science as a “hoax” and a “con job.” He is a strong advocate for nuclear power.
Clinton: She advocates boosting renewable energy production on land and water, and plans to install half a billion solar panels across the U.S. within four years. While opposing Keystone XL, a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, Clinton backs increased production of natural gas and nuclear energy in the U.S.