Three professors analyzed the presidential candidates’ policy platforms at the Hot Spots lecture Wednesday in the President’s Dining Room.
Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, described his perspective on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s and Republican candidate Donald Trump’s policies on taxes and international trade. Richard Gelm, professor of political science, talked about the candidates’ motives, practical approaches to domestic policy, and the policies’ ramifications. Gitty Amini, associate professor of political science, outlined Clinton”s and Trump’s foreign policies.
Ispahani said the United States has many deals with other countries and one of the lowest tariff rates in the world. He credited the success of the American economy to free trade in both global and interstate commerce.
“Each state specializes in items in which they have a comparative advantage or in which they can produce a lot cheaper than some of the other countries,” Ispahani said. “And this comes to either having the advantage of technology, or having the advantage of having natural resources.”
Ispahani said that while Clinton has changed her mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership, she agrees with most of the conditions, and is a proponent of freer trade. Trump opposes deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership and claims that jobs are going to Mexico. Opponents of such trade deals believe American businesses cannot compete with Mexico due to Mexico’s lower wages, to which Ispahani offered a counterargument.
“We can compete with Mexico due to our technology,” Ispahani said.
Ispahani said Trump wants to lower the tax rate. The economy experiences a boost when taxes are lowered, according to Ispahani. He credited former President Reagan’s reduction of the marginal income tax rate for the economic boom of the 1980s. Ispahani said that reduction of the marginal income tax rate incentivizes business. He believes in the elimination of loopholes in tax laws and the establishment of a flat tax rate.
“The problem is not the high tax rate, but the loophole in the tax laws,” Ispahani said.
Gelm said that Clinton desires open borders and a united Western hemisphere, like the unity European countries experience under the EU, but does not push for it in her campaign.
“She’s realistic, she knows we’re nowhere near ready for that, with the various levels of economic disparity, etcetera, we’d have flooding across the borders,” Gelm said.
Clinton pushes for moderate border control and a path to citizenship. She wants to continue Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, which President Obama carried out through executive order. Gelm described DAPA and DACA as imposing limitations on the enforcement of deportation laws on undocumented immigrants with parents or children who possess legal status. Gelm stated that due to the unlikelihood of getting a Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, Clinton will push most of her policies through executive orders.
“I think she’s going to make Obama’s executive orders pale in comparison,” Gelm said. “If she can get control of the Senate, and she can get a new Supreme Court justice confirmed, then she has many more opportunities for executive action.”
Gelm said Trump’s promise to build a wall stems from the opportunity to expand business opportunities.
“Building a wall would be one of the biggest construction projects in the history of humankind,” Gelm said.
Gelm said that Trump’s proposal to build a wall was an emotional driver to gain supporters during the Republican primaries. However, the Democrats in the Senate could filibuster such a policy. Gelm said the proposal demonstrates Trump’s lack of understanding on how the federal, state and local governments interact in order to formulate and execute policy.
If the wall were to be built, determining which country has control of the Rio Grande would be difficult. Gelm said that the environmental impact must also be taken into account. The migration patterns of wildlife that drink from and cross over the Rio Grande would be affected.
“It’s completely impractical, in my opinion,” Gelm said.
Gelm stated that Clinton wants cap and trade, an approach to pollution emission reduction that taxes businesses for their carbon emissions, but Clinton steers away from it in her campaign.
“The political realities are that the oil companies in the United States have substantial leverage over the United States Congress,” Gelm said.
Clinton proposed a stimulus program in which federal subsidies are given to industries centered on alternative energy sources. Development of these industries would result in decrease demand for fossil fuels. Trump has denied global warming and wants to continue subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, according to Gelm.
Gelm stated that while Clinton desires a single-payer policy for health care, she would support the “public option,” in which the government provides health care if a buyer does not want to opt for private insurance. Trump wants to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Trump believes the lifting of the ban on buying insurance companies across state lines will increase competition between companies. He also wants to make it difficult for patients to sue doctors for malpractice.
“One of the arguments of Republicans is that the reason healthcare costs are so high is because malpractice insurance is so expensive for doctors,” Gelm said. “And so if we made it harder for individuals to sue for malpractice, then their premiums could come down and lower the prices.”
Amini described Clinton as a “typical Republican” in her foreign policy, which she contrasted to Obama’s more liberal approach.
“He had more of the liberal perspective of leading by example, by being a good role model for the rest of the world, ‘If the world sort of respects us, they will follow us,’” Amini said. “Clinton believes in the active use of United States power.”
Amini presented a slideshow displaying the basic tenets of the candidates’ foreign policies in bullet points. While Clinton wants to strengthen alliances with South Korea and Japan, Trump wants American allies to “pay their fair share.” Clinton and Trump want China to curtail North Korea’s progress in developing nuclear arms. Clinton wants to bolster America’s ballistic missile defense shield in Asia. Clinton and Trump both want to lift the embargo on Cuba.
“The Guantanamo Bay thing is the only real difference. Clinton has the typical Democratic approach, ‘We should close Guantanamo Bay,’ and Trump thinks we should keep it open,” she said.
Trump does not trust the Iran deal, while Clinton backs it, according to Amini.
“She thinks that we should keep it going,” Amini said. “She says that the main thing is to make it clear to Iran that if they cheat, if they don’t abide by the terms of the deal, that she will punish them.”
Clinton and Trump believe that the United States should fight ISIS with a coalition of allies, establish no-fly zones, and increase air strikes. While Clinton wants to arm Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters against ISIS, Trump wants to send in more American troops.
Amini recommended the Council of Foreign Relations as a source for those researching the candidates’ foreign policies.
Students and teachers found the Hot Spots lecture informative and engaging.
“I thought Gelm’s analysis on the logistics of the wall was really comprehensive,” said Jackie Ku, sophomore and political science major.
“It helped having them lay out the policies,” Danielle Ridewood, sophomore and international studies major, said. “Watching the debates, I want to turn the TV off.”
Al Clark, professor of humanities, discussed with students after the lecture. He stressed the importance of voting this November.
“This will be either the first woman president or the first demagogue,” Clark said. “Either way, it’s a historic election.”
Aryn Plax can be reached at email@example.com.