Clinton v. Trump – The First Debate

I like to watch college basketball, especially during the NCAA tournament known as March Madness. I don’t like games in which the highly favored team pummels the underdog, but I really enjoy close games and games in which the underdog shocks the heavy favorite. As long as the favorite isn’t my team, of course.

With that propensity to root for the disadvantaged, I wondered if I might identify with one of the presidential candidates as the underdog and find myself pulling for him or her during last night’s debate. The underdog wasn’t a given – there were much higher expectations for Clinton than for Trump, so in a way, basketball is the wrong analogy. Since this was a handicapped event, bowling is a better comparison – except that I don’t watch bowling.

Still, I did not watch the debate as I would watch a sporting event. I had my computer and a pile of papers so I could get some work done during the debate, but half-way through reconciling the checking account, I put everything aside and just watched. After it ended, I read the fact-checking analysis at two different sites (NPR and the Washington Post), checked what www.fivethirtyeight.com had to say, and watched several videos on Fox News’ website. Then I followed the links included in the fact-checks and read economic analyses, so I didn’t get to bed until around 1:30 am.

Then I has a little trouble falling asleep because this is not a game – it is a really important election.

I have told friends that the country can survive four years of a bad president, and that we would not be moving to Canada or do anything drastic. I will probably sell some stocks and keep a little extra cash around, but that’s another story. For me, the economy is the most important issue and I have now made up my mind which presidential candidate has better ideas for economic prosperity in the United States.

Here are the economic points that convinced me Hilary Clinton would be fiscally more responsible for the country’s economy:

  1. Trump: “Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan,leaving Ohio, they’re all leaving.”
    • U.S. unemployment rate is 4.9%, Michigan’s is 4.5% and Ohio’s is 4.7%. 10.5 million private sector jobs have been created during Pres. Obama’s time in office.
    • Job creation per year for each president since 1976:
      • Clinton: 2.9 million
      • Carter: 2.6 million
      • Reagan: 2.0 million
      • Obama: 1.3 million (through January)
      • Bush (41st): 659,000
      • Bush (43rd): 160,000
  1. Trump: “Under my plan I will be reducing taxes tremendously….”
    • Per the right-leaning Tax Foundation, Trump’s plan would reduce federal revenue by $4.4 to $5.9 trillion over the next decade, but potential higher growth could mean that the debt will increase by less than that – $2.6 to $3.9 trillion (still a lot).
    • The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the Trump plan would add $5.3 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, while Clinton’s plan would add $200 billion versus current tax and spending laws.
    • After-tax income would increase 10.2-16% for the Top 1% earners, but remain flat to 1.9% growth for the bottom 80%. With the reduced tax rate, Trump would pocket an additional $71-$111 million on his self-reported $694 million income.
    • According to the economic working paper “Tax Cuts for Whom? Heterogeneous Effects of Income Tax Changes on Growth and Employment” by Owen M. Zidar, tax cuts for the top 10% earners have statically no effect on growth and employment over the two years following the cut, but tax cuts for the bottom 90% have a large effect.
  2. Trump: “Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt.
    • The U.S. has been the world’s largest natural gas producer since 2011 and largest oil producer since 2013.
  3. Trump: “NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country.”
    • Manufacturing jobs increased 3% to 17.3 million between when NAFTA took effect on January 1, 1994 and the end of Bill Clinton’s term in January 2000.
    • “NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters. The net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest,” according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
  4. Trump: “Now look, we have the worst revival of an economy since the Great Depression.”
    • This has been a slower than usual recovery, but it has also been the longest recovery since the Great Depression. I personally like this steady recovery because there isn’t a bubble to burst and devastate the economy and people again.
    • Private sector employers have added 15.1 million jobs since the bottom of the recession in 2010.
  5. Trump: “And believe me: We’re in a bubble right now. And the only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that’s going to come crashing down. We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. And we better be awfully careful.”
    • Since his main message is how bad things are in the country, I don’t understand what bubble he believes currently exists. He mentions the stock market after he mentions the bubble and indicates that it’s the only thing that looks good. This doesn’t appear to make sense.
  6. Trump, referring to his income tax return: “And — as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.”
    • The IRS commissioner has stated that there is no restriction that prevents disclosure while the audit is ongoing.
    • Richard Nixon released his tax returns in 1973 while they were under audit.
    • There is good reason for candidates to release their income tax returns as they can identify potential conflicts of interest.
    • Every candidate for more than 40 years has released his or her returns.
  7. Trump: “When we have a country that’s doing so badly, that’s being ripped off by every single country in the world, it’s the kind of thinking that our country needs, because everybody — Lester, we have a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? That means, who’s negotiating these trade deals?”
    • The pro-trade Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that 4 million jobs could be lost and the economy could slip into recession if Trump’s threat of high tariffs on goods from China and Mexico leads to a trade war.
  8. Trump: “…it is about time that this country had somebody running it that has an idea about money.”
    • Without Trump’s tax returns to review, the information available on the Trump businesses are primarily legal filings which show largely poor money handling skills (bankruptcies, lawsuits, underpayment or nonpayment for products and services received).
    • Trump: “But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections where I filed a one hundred and four page, essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have.”
      • I may be biased by the fact that he won’t release his tax returns, but I don’t trust the information in his campaign’s disclosure.
  9. Clinton: “You even went and suggested that you would try tonegotiate down the national debt of the United States.”
    • Trump denied ever saying that, but the fact-checkers had the proof that Clinton’s statement was true.
    • This is a very dangerous thing for a presidential leader to say because, if it is believed by the debt ratings companies, the U.S. could end up paying much higher interest rates on the national debt.
    • This statement is in character with Trump’s business dealings, namely, underpaying or not paying for services and goods provided.
  10. Trump: “… had we taken the oil — and we should have taken the oil — ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income.”
    • Trump appears to be suggesting that U.S. troops should have fought the armies of Iraq and Syria to control the oil fields and pipelines as part of the U.S. withdraw from the combat mission in Iraq.
    • This would have been very costly and required an occupying force in two Middle Eastern countries to prevent a future terrorist organization from acquiring an income source. It makes no sense, and if that is the proposed strategy, there are many other countries that should be invaded and occupied.
  11. Trump: “Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us.”
    • In 2014, South Korea paid the U.S. $866.6 million for our military presence and Japan’s budget shows $4 billion for base-related expenses.
  12. Trump: “I mean, can you imagine, we’re defending Saudi Arabia? And with all of the money they have, we’re defending them, and they’re not paying?
    • Saudi Arabia has purchased more than $90 billion worth of weapons during the Obama administration.

As with so many others, I have framed this argument in the negative. I highlighted Trump’s economic negatives rather than Clinton’s economic positives. Sorry about that, but there’s a reason.

Economies rise and economies fall, and one or two bad decisions can tip the balance. From what I heard last night, I worry that Trump may not just tip the balance, but overturn and step on it. Clinton, on the other hand, has a policy similar to President Obama’s, and that has generated steady, non-bubble economic growth for six years. I may be boring, but I will vote for steady improvement over wild claims.

About tonyj126

I'm a 50+ married man who always seems to have a large backlog of work to do, but also a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Much of the work I do is volunteer or taking care of extended family members. I suffer from, as my priest calls it, "the sin of self-sufficiency," which means I can figure out how to do most things myself, and consequently, reduce the need for community to solve problems. As a logical extention (at least to me), I find myself called to comtemplate the country's and the world's woes and offer my observations. I hope someone out there will find them useful.
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