The first debate of the election season lived up to its hype Monday, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offering drastically different visions for America’s future. Though personal finance topics took a backseat to larger issues of jobs, race, trade and temperament, there were a few moments when the candidates touched on them specifically. Here, we’ve outlined what each candidate had to say last night about the issues that could affect your wallet.
1. Equal Pay
Though incomes have been increasing at a record rate after years of stagnation, NBC moderator Lester Holt said as he opened the debate, income inequality still remains, with nearly half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. How would each candidate address the issue?
Clinton, who responded first, was pointed: “I want us to invest in you,” she said. Beyond ushering in jobs for those in infrastructure, innovation, technology and small businesses, she stressed the importance of making “the economy fairer,” particularly for women, who suffer a 20% wage gap with men, according to the American Association of University Women. Equal pay would certainly play into her program, as would “paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable child care and debt-free college,” she said. In the past, Clinton has said her goal is for workers to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
Trump agreed something must be done to narrow the gender gap, though he did not offer concrete solutions. “As far as child care is concerned, and so many other things,” he said, “I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do, but perhaps we’ll be talking about that later.”
“How do you bring back jobs, American manufacturers,” Holt asked mid-way through the event.
“Well, the first thing you do is don’t let the jobs leave,” Trump said. He added, “But if you think you’re going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you’re wrong.”
Clinton suggested adding jobs where the country needs them most: clean energy, especially for dealing with the issue of climate change. “We can have enough clean energy to power every home,” she said. “We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.”
3. National Debt
When it came to America’s national debt, the debate grew increasingly heated. At one point, Clinton asserted that Trump “would try to negotiate down the national debt of the United States.” Trump denied this, saying, “we build roads, and they cost two and three and four times what they’re supposed to cost. We buy products for our military, and they come in at costs that are so far above what they are supposed to be, because we don’t have people that know what they’re doing.”
In a report released over the summer by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, researchers estimated Trump would have what Credit.com reporter Christine DiGangi called “a Miracle Gro-like effect on the debt, increasing it by $11.5 trillion within 10 years.” Researchers estimated Clinton would tack $250 billion onto the national debt over the next decade.
As he’s done in the past, Trump assured the public he would cut taxes substantially for businesses. “And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan,” he said. “I’m very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs.”
Clinton wasn’t convinced. “Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald’s proposed, and basically they’ve said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would in some instances disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go in effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession.” For her part, Clinton would cap itemized deductions and hit taxpayers with incomes over $5 million with a 4% surcharge. Beyond that, she would enact a number of policies intended to raise taxes on individual and business income.
Previously, Trump proposed eliminating the estate tax and restructuring tax brackets entirely. As part of the latter plan, single people earning less than $25,000 annually and married people filing jointly with an annual income below $50,000 would not pay income tax. He would achieve this by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy and businesses. A one-time repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at a 10% tax rate while ending tax deferrals for corporate income earned abroad would also contribute.
[Editor’s Note: No matter who wins in November, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your finances. You can monitor your financial goals, like maintaining good credit scores, on Credit.com.]