6 things we learned from the debates


6 things we learned from the debates

Drew Angerer-Win McNamee/Getty Images

Congratulations, you’ve survived all 3 presidential debates. Through it all, you have witnessed character assassination, unseemly theatrics and more than a few tall tales.

You may have even learned something along the way.

Despite it all, when it comes to your money Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did, in fact, outline substantive policy positions, most notably in the final debate.

Here are 6 things we learned about from the debates, from the 1st at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, to Wednesday night’s final tussle at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

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1. About the economy

In a few rare moments of candid conversation, the 2 candidates laid out their plans for the economy during the final debate, even as moderator Chris Wallace appeared to criticize them both.

Wallace characterized Clinton’s economic plan as similar to President Obama’s, which he said has resulted in slow growth. Trump’s plan, meanwhile, “is unrealistic,” Wallace said.

“Look, our country is stagnant. We’ve lost our jobs,” Trump said. “We lost our businesses. We’re not making things any more, relatively speaking. Our product is pouring in from China, pouring in from Vietnam, pouring in from all over the world.”

He pledged to recraft trade agreements that would be more favorable to American workers.

Clinton, meanwhile, boasted of plans to bring on the “biggest jobs program since World War II,” raise the minimum wage, give women equal pay and offer free college to families who earn less than $125,000 a year.

“I think we can compete with high-wage countries and I believe we should,” Clinton said. “New jobs and clean energy, not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new businesses. I want us to do more to help small business. That’s where two-thirds of the new jobs are going to come from.”

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2. About the national debt

Wallace was also pointed in questioning the pair on the national debt, which has ballooned to $19.7 trillion. According to data from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the nation’s debt would rise to 86% of gross domestic product over the next decade under Clinton and to 105% of GDP under Trump.

“Question is, why are you both ignoring this problem?”

Trump said he disagreed with economists, and said that his economic plan would lead to GDP growth of 5% or 6%.

Clinton pledged not to add “a penny to the debt,” calling it “the kind of approach that will enable more people to take those new jobs, higher-paying jobs.”

3. About entitlements

In the final debate question, Wallace tried to pin down the candidates’ plans on Social Security and Medicare. By and large, Trump did not bite, arguing only that his plan to reform health care would build up the economy.

Clinton said the country needs to find a way to shore up Social Security, perhaps by increasing what Americans pay into the system. She vowed not to make benefit cuts.

“But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund by making sure that we have sufficient resources,” Clinton said. “And that will come from either raising the cap and or finding other ways to get more money into it. I will not cut benefits. “

4. About health insurance

The 2 candidates demonstrated clear differences during the 2nd debate in St. Louis when it comes to the state of the nation’s health care policy. They briefly touched on their differences again in the final debate.

Trump called for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, while Clinton defended the controversial legislation, saying it had led to millions of more Americans receiving health care.

Clinton said she would work to control costs, while Trump wants to eliminate rules that forbid insurance companies from competing across state lines.

5. About taxes

The 2 candidates have also sparred repeatedly over taxes: Trump wants to cut them, particularly corporate tax rates, while Clinton says she would raise taxes on the wealthy. Who does that include? Any American who makes $250,000 or more.

“We’re going to cut business taxes massively,” Trump said. “They’ll start hiring people. We’re going to bring the $2.5 trillion that is offshore to the country. We are going to start the engine rolling again because right now our country is dying at one percent GDP.”

Clinton responded: “…He is going to advocate for the largest tax cut we’ve ever seen, three times more than the tax cuts under the Bush administration.”

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6. About trade

Trump’s most pointed policy criticism focused on Clinton’s support of trade agreements. He said she favored the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP – a trade agreement between a dozen Pacific rim countries — before she rejected it.

He opposes this deal and others, including the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it moved blue-collar factory jobs from the U.S. to other countries.

“So my plan — we are going to renegotiate trade,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a lot of free trade, more free trade than we have right now. But we have horrible deals. Our jobs are being taken out by the deal that her husband signed — NAFTA — one of the worst deals ever. Our jobs are being sucked out of our economy.”

Clinton has defended NAFTA previously, but vowed to oppose TPP, saying it doesn’t pass her test to add jobs, raise income and protect national security.

“I’m against it now, I’ll be against it after the election, I’ll be against it when I’m president,” she said.