Comparison: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton on the economy


File photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Reuters / Jonathan Drake (Trump); Lucas Jackson (Clinton)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton laid out competing visions for the American economy during a pair of speeches this week, pitching a variety of ideas to accelerate job creation and economic growth.

The proposals they unveiled - some new, some familiar - ran the gamut from tax and wage reforms to national investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.

Here's a look at how their plans compare and contrast.



*Trump has proposed to abolish the estate tax, which he calls the death tax, saying people who have been taxed all their lives shouldn't also be taxed when they die.

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*To reform personal income taxes, Trump has embraced the House Republican plan, which proposes eliminating the current seven income brackets and replacing them with three brackets - individuals with annual incomes up to $37,650 would pay 12 percent. Individuals earning between $37,650 and $190,150 would pay 25 percent, and individuals earning more than $190,150 would pay 33 percent. For many low-income people, Trump emphasizes, deductions would bring their total federal income tax burden close to zero.

*The current federal corporate tax rate is 35 percent, though many companies pay far less than 35 percent due to deductions and loopholes. Trump would slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate a variety of deductions and loopholes in the tax code to fill some of the resultant revenue shortfall.

* Trump's latest tax plan has been revised from a previous version, but an analysis of the previous version by the left-leaning Tax Policy Center concluded it would reduce revenues by roughly $9 trillion. Trump has said the growth his plan would create would offset that shortfall, but beyond that, his team has offered little specifics on how a President Trump would prevent the deficit from exploding.


*Clinton would like to expand the estate tax. Currently, the first $5.45 million of an individual's estate is untaxed, and beyond that threshold, the government collects 40 percent when that person dies. Clinton would like to lower that threshold to $3.5 million for an individual's estate ($7 million for a married couple's estate), and she'd like to tax estates above that threshold at a 45 percent rate.

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*On personal income taxes, with the goal of reducing inequality, Clinton would institute the "Buffett Rule" to ensure nobody with an income over $1 million pays less than 30 percent in federal income tax. She'd do that by eliminating certain deductions and investment maneuvers that primarily benefit wealthy people. She'd also impose a four percent tax "surcharge" on incomes over $5 million.

*On corporate taxes, Clinton would adjust the code to incentivize businesses to keep jobs in the U.S. She'd make it more difficult for companies to undergo "inversions," in which a corporation merges with a foreign competitor to put itself under the auspices of that competitor's more favorable tax environment. She's also suggested offering tax credits to companies that offer jobs to former apprentices, and levying an "exit tax" on companies that are moving overseas.

*Analysts at the left-leaning Tax Policy Center estimate Clinton's tax proposals would bring in an additional $1.1 trillion in revenue over 10 years. She's said she will use that money to fund some of the additional investments detailed below.

Family and Workplace Reforms


*After a complicated back-and-forth, Trump seems to have settled on a proposal to hike the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10 per hour, and he's suggested individual states and localities could raise wages even higher.

*Trump would also like to create a tax deduction for child care. According to the New York Times, "If the policy were implemented as a typical deduction, it would provide no advantage for the 45 percent of people paying no tax and provide the biggest advantages to people in high-income tax brackets. His campaign has indicated that the Trump administration would find ways to make its advantages shared more broadly, though staffers had no details."


*The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. After initially proposing to raise the minimum to $12 per hour, Clinton eventually said she would support a hike to $15 per hour, indexed to inflation - a proposal that has now been enshrined in the Democratic platform. She's supported efforts by states and localities to go even higher.

*Clinton has proposed capping limiting the cost of child care to 10 percent of a family's income, and she'd increase access to child care on college campuses for parents getting a degree. Perhaps her most consequential proposal on child care, though, is her idea of a child care tax credit for families. The New York Times explains how her idea differs from Trump's proposal of a child care tax deduction: "While she has not enumerated all the details of what she has in mind, a refundable credit would avoid the problems created by offering a tax deduction and would be valuable for lower- and middle-income families even if they don't pay federal income tax."

*Clinton has also proposed guaranteeing at least 12 weeks of paid family leave, with individuals on leave receiving at least two-thirds of their usual wages. Current law guarantees 12 weeks of leave for new parents, but it does not require employers to pay them, leaving many families with infants unable to take considerable time off work after a child's birth.

*Clinton would also like to guarantee universal access to pre-Kindergarten education, arguing it would both help children develop and relieve financial burdens on low- and middle-income families.

Infrastructure and Energy


*Lamenting the "disastrous" condition of America's roads, bridges, and airports, Trump has proposed spending at least double the $275 billion that Clinton has suggested to rebuild the country's infrastructure and create jobs. He's not offered an exact spending target, but he has raised some ire among fiscal conservatives by suggesting he'd tolerate significant deficit spending to make it happen.

*On energy, Trump has proposed a broad regulatory overhaul that would open up significantly more U.S. energy resources for development. He'd immediately rescind all of President Obama's executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan capping greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power plants.

*Trump would also like to lift the moratorium on energy production on federally owned areas, and he'd urge Canada to renew the application for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the Obama administration quashed.

*Trump has suggested any revenues accrued by increased energy production could be redirected to fund his proposed infrastructure developments.


*Clinton, as noted above, has proposed $275 billion in new infrastructure spending to improve roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, and more. Her website claims she'd pay for the improvements through unspecified "business tax reform."

*Clinton wants to preserve and strengthen President Obama's climate action plan, arguing the new federal standards should be a "floor," not a "ceiling," when it comes to cleanliness and efficiency.

*Clinton has also proposed a sizable investment in clean energy, with two stated goals: first, powering every home in America with renewable energy within 10 years of taking office. Second, increasing renewables' total share of U.S. energy production to 33 percent, also within 10 years of taking office.

*She wants to install half a billion additional solar panels and expand other forms of clean energy, like wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and more. She also wants to invest in revitalizing the power grid to increase efficiency and reliability, especially in rural areas.

Trade and Manufacturing


*Trump has said he will pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and renegotiate existing trade agreements (like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA), to secure a more advantageous deal for the United States.

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*Trump has also pledged to crack down on China's unfair trade practices by imposing tariffs and fighting back against the country's export subsidies, currency manipulation, and theft of American intellectual property.

*Trump has repeatedly suggested he'd slap a steep tariff on any company that relocates its manufacturing to another country, arguing the move would discourage outsourcing by raising the company's cost of operating abroad. He's offered prospective numbers as high as 45 percent, saying the "threat" of such a tariff would keep American companies from shipping jobs overseas. He's largely brushed aside concerns that such a move could ignite a trade war and raise the cost of goods and services.


*Despite speaking positively about a draft version of the Trans Pacific Partnership as secretary of state, Clinton has now confirmed her opposition to the final agreement, suggesting it doesn't meet the labor, environmental, and other standards she's set for any such pact. She's said she will continue opposing it unless those standards can be met.

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*Clinton has also proposed a crackdown on unfair trade practices from China and other countries. She's said she wouldn't hesitate to impose "targeted tariffs" on any country that "gamed the system," and she's pledged to expand the U.S. trade policy personnel by "appointing a new chief trade prosecutor, tripling the number of enforcement officers."

*Clinton has floated the idea of a $10 billion "Make it in America" partnership that, according to her website, would "bring together workers and labor, business, universities, community colleges, and government at every level to harness the strength of manufacturing communities across America. Businesses that take part will pledge not to shift jobs or profits from these partnerships overseas. And we will support strong "Buy American" standards so we make things here."

*She's also vowed to offer tax incentives to lure businesses to particularly hard-hit manufacturing communities, and to expand apprenticeships and job training programs to ensure manufacturers have access to a skilled American workforce.