JACKSON, Miss., October 15, 2016 — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both been accused of bad behavior. That’s putting it mildly. Each has accused the other of serious criminal behavior.
Americans claim to prefer policy discussions over gutter politics, but salaciousness drives ratings. The same people who say they want serious intellectual discussion also treat policy discussions like poison.
We don’t know whether Trump’s inappropriate words about women were converted into action, nor how Clinton’s server compromised national security. We do know that there are serious, substantive policy differences between the two.
1. Trump vows to cut income taxes. Clinton vows to raise them. She says she will do it only on the rich, but the real debate is whether cutting or raising taxes on anyone in this economic climate is a good idea.
2. Clinton promises to invest in education. This includes giving taxpayer-funded pre-school education to all children at a cost of more than $1 trillion. Given America’s nearly $20 trillion debt, another budget-busting entitlement should concern us.
3. Trump promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Clinton wants to save it. The Act has provided health insurance for millions, but has pushed deductibles and premiums so high that millions more can scarcely afford actual medical care, even with insurance. The debate over whether this law should be saved or repealed is worth continuing. In 2010 and 2014, it was a central issue that led to Democrats getting crushed in congressional elections.
4. Trump has vowed to protect the Second Amendment. Clinton insists she will not seize guns, but she intends to make it much easier to sue gun manufacturers. This will drive them out of business, effectively gutting the Second Amendment.
5. Clinton supports the Iran deal and considers it successful. Trump opposes it and declares it a total surrender and failure. He would scrap it and start over.
6. Clinton believes that stopping climate change is a top national priority. She glosses over the fact that to effectively do it would require vast, new government control over how we live our lives. Trump believes giving the EPA more power would further cripple already anemic economic growth and cause huge job losses.
7. Clinton believes the economy is on sound and strengthening footing. Trump observes that the economy is growing at 1 percent, and that we now have the lowest labor participation rate in a generation.
8. Clinton stands with Black Lives Matter, declaring them an important advocacy group deserving of respect. She blames systemic institutional racism for the deaths of blacks at the hands of police. Trump stands staunchly with police officers and vows to restore law and order.
9. Trump stands squarely on the side of Israel and has declared the Palestinians to be responsible for their own failed lot in life. Clinton favors a neutral approach, treating Israeli self-defense and the Palestinian terrorism as morally equivalent.
10. Clinton obsesses over the Buffett Rule that allows capital gains to be taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income. She wants to raise capital gains taxes. Trump does not. Clinton praises Bill Clinton’s 1990s economy, but Bill Clinton cut capital gains taxes. So did George W. Bush.
With total inconsistency, Clinton praised her husband but criticized George W. Bush on this policy decision, even though they made the exact same decision. Raising capital gains rates is terrible for stocks. The stock market is near all-time highs and may be ready for a downward correction. Raising the capital gains rate could turn that correction into a crash.
11. Trump wants to protect coal miners and their jobs. Clinton wants to retrain them for green energy jobs. She has never said what would happen to them if those jobs never materialize, which was the case in 2008. Should they be forced out of work and be retrained for work that may never appear?
12. Clinton wants to import thousands of Syrian refugees. She says that to deny them entry is xenophobic. She insists that she will only admit the good ones and keep out extremists. Trump says the refugees should not be allowed to enter. Allowing them in is a national security threat, and there are no adequate methods of vetting them. The FBI has said it does not have the capability to vet them all.
13. Clinton wants more immigration and says those who want to secure the border are anti-Hispanic bigots. Trump says that illegal immigration drives down wages and leads to more crime and disease. Clinton’s emails show that she wants open borders. Trump argues that without borders, there is no such thing as a nation.
These are serious policy differences. The media and the American people can discuss them, or continue to obsess over gutter politics.