Here’s a Factcheck of Hillary Clinton’s Attack on Donald Trump’s Economic Policies
Hillary Clinton rattled off a series of claims about Donald Trump on Tuesday that seemed too strange to be true. Some were. Some weren’t.
Yes, he once described climate change as a hoax invented by China. But her suggestion that he might sell the Statue of Liberty or Yosemite National Park veered toward the fantastical.
Clinton took liberties with her own record as well as Trump’s when she delivered a broadside against her Republican presidential opponent in an Ohio speech.
A look at some of her claims and how they compare with the facts:
CLINTON: “Donald Trump … has no serious plan to encourage manufacturing, innovation or job creation in America.”
THE FACTS: Serious is in the eye of the beholder, but Trump’s proposal to sharply cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% is intended to encourage more businesses to remain in the U.S. rather than move overseas. Trump’s proposed cut is steeper than most but the idea of cutting corporate taxes has widespread support among economists. President Barack Obama proposed cutting the rate to 28% from 35% in 2012.
CLINTON: “The Trump campaign said that, if worst came to worst, we could just sell off America’s assets. Really? Even if we sold all our aircraft carriers and the Statue of Liberty—even if we let some billionaire turn Yosemite into a private country club—we still wouldn’t even get close. That’s how much debt he’d run up.”
THE FACTS: First, Trump and his team weren’t talking about paying off debt that “he’d run up.” They were talking about eliminating the $19 trillion in debt on the books from previous years. Trump himself talked about doing this through robust economic and job growth, not stripping the U.S. of what the government calls “heritage treasures” like parks and monuments.
To be sure, economists of various stripes say it’s impossible to eliminate an enormous debt built up over generations simply with strong growth. Trump’s fiscal numbers don’t add up. But he has never suggested a fire sale on Lady Liberty.
Clinton’s claim is rooted in a statement by a Trump campaign adviser, Barry Bennett, who said Trump could “do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets we hold,” like selling unused government buildings and leasing more federal land. She’s right that unloading excess inventory would fall far short of erasing the country’s debt.
CLINTON: “One of John McCain’s former economic advisers actually calculated what would happen to our country if Trump gets his way. … We would lose three and a half million jobs, incomes would stagnate, debt would explode, and stock prices would plummet.”
THE FACTS: That was a selective reference to an economist who has given money to her own campaign. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, released an analysis deeply negative about Trump’s economic proposals on Monday. Zandi did advise McCain during his 2008 Republican presidential campaign. But he also produced research supportive of Obama’s stimulus program. And he donated money to Clinton’s campaign last year. That doesn’t mean Moody’s analysis is wrong. Most economists are highly critical of Trump’s proposals to slap large tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, to remove everyone in the country illegally and to implement massive tax cuts that probably would balloon the deficit.
CLINTON: “I believe we can compete and win in the global economy. To do that, we should renegotiate deals that aren’t working for Americans, and reject any agreements—like the Trans-Pacific Partnership—that don’t meet my high bar for raising wages or creating good-paying jobs. ”
THE FACTS: She was actually a leading champion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership when serving as Obama’s secretary of state, calling it the “gold standard” of trade agreements in a 2012 speech in Australia and echoing that sentiment across the world stage. She flipped against it in her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders, who blames past free trade agreements for undercutting U.S. manufacturing and jobs.
Clinton said in an October debate with Sanders that details of the liberalized trade deal among Pacific nations, completed in the fall, “didn’t meet my standards” despite her earlier words of praise. The final agreement, however, dropped or changed some provisions that liberal activist groups—the wing of the party she was courting in the primaries—had strongly criticized.
CLINTON: “He said, and I quote, ‘Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country,’ at a time when millions working full-time are still living in poverty.”
THE FACTS: True enough, but just as Clinton changed her position on the Pacific trade deal, Trump has appeared to change his mind on the minimum wage.
In August he said a low minimum wage, while “nasty,” is not a bad thing because a high base wage would cost jobs in this global economy. In a November debate he said the federal minimum wage should be left at $7.25.
But in May, he told “Meet the Press” he didn’t know “how people make it on” the current minimum and said it should be increased. He did not say by how much, instead saying the level should be left to the states.
CLINTON: “The Republican primary featured the Trump immigration plan: round up and deport more than 11 million people—almost all of whom are employed or are children going to school—then build a wall across our border and force Mexico to pay for it.”
THE FACTS: It’s highly unlikely “almost all” the people who are in the country illegally are working or going to school. A majority appears to be, but by nature of their status, such immigrants are under the radar and defy precise counting.
The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, estimates 64% of people in the country illegally (age 16 or older) work. When the estimated number of children in school and young adults in post-secondary education is added, it appears that a little over 70 percent of people in the country illegally are thought to be either working or in school. That’s a rough estimation, but probably a ceiling, and far short of “almost all.”
CLINTON: “He just says that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
THE FACTS: He did, in a 2012 tweet: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” And in 2014 he tweeted about the “GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”
He’s evolved — slightly. He’s said the comment about China was a joke. Yet in the campaign he’s said “a lot” of climate change is a hoax and China benefits by not doing anything about it.