Trump, Clinton, and Your Money

Nov 7, 2016 by

Go VoteOn this I think nearly all would agree: thank goodness this campaign season is almost over.

Each successive U.S. presidential campaign gets more bizarre and uncivil than the last, but this one set the bar so high that one shudders imagining what the 2020 campaign will bring. I’m an American living in Canada, so I’ve thankfully been insulated from much of the insanity. But the spectacle of the Donald & Hillary show has proved irresistible to many Canadians and thus Canadian media too, so it’s hard to avoid, even here.

How Would Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Affect Your Money?

Right or wrong (okay—it’s wrong), many Americans think mainly, if not only, of their own financial well being in choosing a candidate for their vote. So before you head off to the polling place tomorrow, have a look at my partly tongue-in-cheek guide to how Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s proposed policies would affect your finances.

Taxes and the Economy

Donald Trump

Trump says he will collapse the current seven individual income tax brackets to three, like this (for those married, filing jointly):

• Less than $75,000: 12%
• $75,000 – $225,000: 25%
• Over $225,000: 33%

Capital gains rates won’t change, and Trump will repeal the alternative minimum tax, the estate tax, and the 3.8% Affordable Care Act tax on investment income earned by high-income taxpayers.

In an independent report, economist Mark Zandi wrote that if implemented Trump’s full economic plan (of which tax changes are a big part) would eliminate 3.5 million jobs, stagnate incomes, explode the (already detonated, imho) federal debt, and crash stock prices.

Moody’s Investor Services has concluded that Trump’s economic plan would significantly weaken the economy, due largely to greater isolationism, diminished international trade and immigration, and reduced foreign direct investment.

The Trump team disagrees.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton proposes a 4% income tax surcharge on taxpayers making more than $5 million per year. Also, Clinton supports the so-called Buffett Rule: those making more than $1 million would pay an effective tax rate of at least 30%. And she would return the estate tax to its 2009 parameters, which would translate to an increase for some high-buck estates.

A recent analysis using the Penn Wharton Tax Policy Simulator concluded that Trump’s plan would be better for the economy in the short term, while Clinton’s would be better over the longer term.

Wall Street

Donald Trump

Wall Street doesn’t much like Donald Trump. Wall Streeters don’t mind that he’s a crass misogynist, an unabashed bigot, a childish buffoon, a confessed sexual assaulter, a grand narcissist, an irredeemable liar, a profound ignoramus, and a grotesque bully. They don’t like him because he’s a lousy businessman with whom no one partners or works more than once.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton says, “Wall Street must work for Main Street.” If I may interject: HA! First, Clinton’s taken huge money from Wall Street. Check out the sources of 5 of Clinton’s top 7 campaign contributors over her career, according to OpenSecrets.org:

Hillary Clinton lifetime campaign contributors

(Emily’s List? Really?) Oh yeah—scanning this list, I can believe Hillary’s really going to go after Wall Street (sarcasm)!

Second, fleecing small investors is a crucial element of Wall Street’s business model and brother, believe me, nobody’s going to change that. Nobody can change that because greed is good, you see.

Conclusion: After the usual and transitory post-election stock price gyrations, it’ll quickly be back to business as usual on Wall Street with no lasting change to the impact on your pocketbook. Wall Street creates its own oxygen.

Mexico Border Wall

Donald Trump

Trump says “on day one” he will begin work building an “impenetrable physical wall” along the entire 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico. Cost estimates vary, but generally range from $15 million to $25 million per mile. That translates to a total cost of $30 billion to $50 billion. Wall maintenance costs may be in the vicinity of $750 million annually. Not to worry, says Trump: he’s going to force Mexico to pay for the wall. How? By threatening to 1) prohibit illegal aliens from wire transferring money outside of the U.S., 2) enact trade tariffs, 3) cancel visas issued to Mexicans, and 4) boost visa fees, all unless Mexico pays for the wall.

And if those measures don’t work, he promises to jam all the Mexican broadcast and cable channels with reruns of The Apprentice until President Nieto screams “me doy por vencido.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton would not build a wall along the U.S. southern border, regardless of who pays for it.

My suggestion is to forget about this one. No wall’s going to be built, no matter who wins tomorrow. There’s insufficient collective stupidity even in Washington, D.C. to pursue this cockamamie project. Not going to happen.

Health Insurance

Donald Trump

Trump would repeal the Affordable Care Act and effectively depend, once again, on America’s profit-driven insurers and healthcare providers to create a cost-efficient, affordable system that keeps Americans insured and cared for. Or not, how ever, you know, the infallible free market works things out.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton aims to “defend and expand” the Affordable Care Act. Her goal remains to make affordable health care available to all Americans.

Though analyses abound, the truth is no one can predict the pocketbook impact of the Trump or Clinton approach to health insurance, but you may be absolutely sure of one thing: health care and health insurance costs will continue rising for the foreseeable future at a rate far more than inflation and GDP growth. Due to wilful ignorance and the power of entrenched special interests, Americans will never accept or get the single-payer system that every developed country in the world already enjoys. The much vilified (in the U.S.) Canadian system, though sometimes characterized by wait times to which Americans are unaccustomed, nevertheless produces uniformly better health outcomes at a cost of roughly half (per capita) of the pre-Obamacare American system. I’m not sure what else matters when ranking health insurance systems. Oh, I remember now—single payer is socialism, ick.

Guns

Donald Trump

Trump subscribes to the theory considered tautological by the NRA that the more people there are walking around carrying guns, the safer we’ll all be.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton would expand background checks and work to keep military-style weapons (whatever that means) off the streets.

The bottom line here: U.S. gun sales will continue to explode—for different reasons—no matter who’s elected! Might be a good day to buy some Smith & Wesson stock, or at least pick up one of these buttons and join the trend:

GunVote Button

Hey, to conclude in all seriousness: Relying on politicians to help assure your long-term financial security would be craziness, my friend. Anything Donald or Hillary or Jill or Bernie or Gary or anyone else does will prove trivial compared to what you can do yourself: pay off debt, live far below your means, have long-term goals and a plan that will get you there, understand investing risks, avoid investing fees, and remember when seeking money advice that only you put your family’s interests first.

Please vote carefully tomorrow, but most of all: VOTE!

Hang in there—it’ll all be over soon. Then, if Clinton wins, the four years of nonstop investigation and impeachment hearings will begin. 🙂

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