United States

2016 election: A breakdown of the candidates


In an election year that appears to be anything but conventional, voters may have slightly better clarity on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and where they stand on key issues following the conclusion of the two major political party conventions.

Differences in economic policies of Clinton and Trump mostly follow along party lines and viewpoints about the role of government. Clinton proposes a measured agenda. It is one that offers change, but without revamping the existing system and without throwing aside longstanding practices such as staying within budget constraints. Trump is focused on three main economic policy issues: 1) raise barriers to immigration; 2) impose large tariffs on goods from Mexico and China; and 3) enact large tax cuts.

The presidential candidates’ policy platforms on key issues is detailed on the following pages and is reflective of information released as of Sept. 12, 2016. However, details are expected to continue to emerge or change as the official debate season begins and as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enter the final weeks of the U.S. presidential campaign.

Looking forward, the Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the following dates for the upcoming three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate where the candidates will meet head-to-head and discuss their positions on key economic and political issues.

  • First presidential debate: Sept. 26, 2016 at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
  • Vice presidential debate: Oct. 4, 2016 at Longwood University, Farmville, VA
  • Second presidential debate: Oct. 9, 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
  • Third presidential debate: Oct. 19, 2016 at University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Hillary Clinton (D)

Donald Trump (R)

Individual taxes

  • 4 percent tax surcharge on income greater than $5 million
  • “Buffett Rule” - minimum 30 percent tax rate for incomes greater than $1 million
  • Itemized deductions capped at tax value of 28 percent
  • Increase tax rate tiers on capital gains from 2 to 7  
  • Reduce tax brackets from 7 to 3 (12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent)
  • Increase standard deduction to $25,000 per person
  • Taxes on dividends and capital gains capped at 20 percent
  • Repeal alternative minimum tax, estate tax and gift tax

Corporate taxes

  • No proposal changing corporate income taxes
  • Proposals tied to policy goals:
  1. Broaden definition of inversion transaction
  2. Prevent “earnings stripping” of U.S. affiliates of multinational companies
  3. Levy exit tax on multinational companies departing the U.S. before recognizing earnings
  • Reduce corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent
  • Disallow deferral of corporate income taxes on foreign income
  • Bring overseas corporate money back to U.S. with one-time repatriation tax rate of 10 percent
  • Limits on interest expense deductions


  • Supports the Affordable Care Act and would seek to expand access
  • Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act


  • Proposes $275 billion in infrastructure spending
  • Proposes more than $500 billion in infrastructure spending


  • Wants to make in-state public colleges and universities tuition-free for middle class families; proposes measures that provide student loan debt relief
  • Details are still emerging on the candidate’s higher education policy

Entitlement programs

  • Proposes to expand entitlement programs
  • Proposes to leave entitlement programs mostly unchanged


  • Reject trade agreements that do not meet high standards
  • Proposes renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • Opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
  • Proposes a renegotiation of NAFTA
  • Opposes TPP
  • Proposes protections against currency manipulation and trade enforcement with China


  • Clean Energy Challenge – incudes grants and tax incentives for solar, wind and other renewable energy efforts
  • Opposes Keystone pipeline
  • America First Energy Plan – lift moratorium on energy production in federal areas
  • Proposals that support America’s coal industry
  • Supports Keystone pipeline

Wall Street

  • Tax on high-frequency trading
  • Supports more regulation and defends initiatives such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Dodd-Frank Act
  • Seeks to scale back or repeal Dodd-Frank Act
  • Moratorium on new federal regulation


  • Supports immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship
  • Supports proposals such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act
  • Increased enforcement
  • Heightened border control between the U.S. and Mexico


  • Vows to strengthen partnerships with key alliances
  • Proposes reforms to attract new armed forces recruits
  • Seeks major initiatives that support veterans
  • States he will increase military spending
  • Calls for a “rethink” of U.S. involvement in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Seeks major initiatives that support veteran


Markets often react negatively to uncertainty, and this political campaign season continues to provide exactly that. In the coming weeks, market volatility might very well continue ahead of the U.S. presidential election scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

RSM US Wealth Management LLC continues to believe that maintaining a diversified portfolio and following a disciplined rebalancing plan will help enable investors to weather volatility in such uncertain times. We believe that our role as advisors becomes even more significant during volatile and unpredictable times and stand ready to listen and provide straightforward advice. For further information and assistance, please contact any of the professionals at RSM US Wealth Management.

Sources: www.donaldjtrump.com and www.hillaryclinton.com.

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