The second presidential debate had everything you were expecting, including discussion of the lewd language in the video that everyone was talking about over the weekend. But along with all the mature-audiences stuff, Clinton-Trump round 2 also offered occasional detours into economic, kitchen-table issues raised via questions submitted online and by undecided voters on the debate stage in St. Louis.
Here is a look at 3 topics related to your money that were addressed during the debate.
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One voter’s question about health care highlighted a key economic divide between the 2 candidates.
Question: “Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. It is not affordable. Premiums have gone up. Deductibles have gone up. Copays have gone up. Prescriptions have gone up. And the coverage has gone down. What will you do to bring the costs down and make coverage better?”
Hillary Clinton said she would “fix it,” while Donald Trump vowed to repeal the law.
“Obamacare will never work,” Trump said. “It is very bad, very bad health insurance. Far too expensive, and not only expensive for the person that has it, unbelievably expensive for our country. It’s going to be one of the biggest line items, very shortly.”
— TheStreet (@TheStreet) October 10, 2016
Trump said his administration would replace the Affordable Care Act with something “much less expensive, and something that works.” The federal government could, for example, help drive down health care costs by eliminating rules that forbid insurance companies from competing across state lines.
Clinton, meanwhile, defended the legislation, saying it led to 20 million more Americans receiving health care.
Rather than repealing the law, she said reining in the costs of health insurance “has to be the highest priority of the next president.”
“So if we just rip it up and throw it away, what Donald is not telling you is, we just turn it back to the insurance companies the way it used to be,” Clinton said. “And that means the insurance companies get to do pretty much whatever they want, including saying, ‘Look, I’m sorry you got diabetes, you had cancer, your child has asthma, you may not be able to have insurance because you can’t afford it.'”
Obamacare has cost significantly *less* than what original CBO estimates had. pic.twitter.com/SfsSjJhWUw
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) October 10, 2016
But Clinton also highlighted what she said were key advances the legislation made, including:
- Barring insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
- Eliminating lifetime limits on benefits.
- Preventing insurance companies from charging women more than men.
- Allowing adults under the age of 26 to remain on a parent’s policy.
Trump said he would favor keeping the provision ensuring that consumers with pre-existing conditions can still get coverage.
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The 2 major-party candidates briefly sparred over taxes. The discussion mostly focused on who would raise — or lower –- taxes the most. But the bombshell appeared to be an admission by Trump, in light of a recent New York Times article, that he legally avoided paying income taxes for years.
Question: “My question is: What specific tax provisions would you change to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes.”
Clinton said any tax hike under her administration would not impact individuals earning less than $250,000 annually. She did, however, pledge to raise taxes on the wealthy.
“I want to have a tax on people who are making a million dollars,” she said. “It’s called the Buffett rule. Yes, Warren Buffett is the one who’s gone out and said somebody like him should not be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. I want to have a surcharge on incomes above $5 million.”
Trump said he would lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, and also cut taxes on the middle class, although he was not specific during the debate about who that would include or by how much.
“You can look at me — she is raising your taxes really high,” Trump said. “And what that’s going to do is a disaster for the country. But she is raising your taxes, and I’m lowering your taxes.”
Both Clinton and Trump said they favored eliminating carried interest, which allows private equity and hedge fund managers to pay taxes on their earnings at the capital gains rate, which is lower than the ordinary income tax rate.
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The candidates raised employment issues several during the debate, first when Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the “greatest disaster trade deal in the world.”
The last time came in response to the second-to-last audience question of the debate.
Question: “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?”
Trump blamed regulation — specifically the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions –- for eliminating energy jobs, and he promised to “bring back our workers.” He also accused Clinton of trying to eliminate jobs in the coal industry.
“We have to guard our energy companies,” Trump said.
Clinton, meanwhile, made no promises about restoring jobs in the coal industry, but she applauded the U.S. for being energy independent.
She also suggested she would “revitalize coal country.”
“Because those coal miners and their fathers and their grandfathers, they dug that coal out, a lot of them lost their lives, they were injured, but they turned the lights on and powered our factories,” Clinton said. “I don’t want to walk away from them.”