When talking about jobs, trade and the economy, Presidential candidates often say what voters want to hear: The economy will thrive and jobs will stay at home.
"I want us to have the biggest jobs program since World War II, jobs in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing," Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said at the third presidential debate. "I think we can compete with high-wage countries, and I believe we should," she added.
Asked to respond to the same question about the state of the economy and their plans to speed up growth, Donald Trump focused on stricter trade enforcement.
"Our jobs have fled to Mexico and other places. We're bringing our jobs back," Republican nominee Donald Trump said at the third presidential debate. "I am going to renegotiate NAFTA," he promised.
But the devil is in the details, and while debates are excellent for highlighting differences they rarely expose how the candidates aim to accomplish their goals.
For that reason, Supply Chain Dive has put together a guide to the candidates' official positions on issues that could impact the supply chain. The positions and statements were extracted from the candidates' websites, when available:
Strengthening American Manufacturing
The candidates' positions on manufacturing is clear: both would bolster "Buy American" policies, enhance trade enforcement and somehow punish companies relocating to another country.
Clinton's website shows a robust plan for accomplishing her goals, dedicating one of 41 issue-pages to the topic.
- $10 billion for "Make it in America Partnerships" which aim to "link together all parts of the supply chain and build on the strength of a region in particular industries." The funds will be used to incentivize innovation, and distributed solely to partners who pledge not to shift jobs overseas or undermine "Buy American" standards.
- A "Manufacturing Renaissance Tax Credit," or an investment tax incentive for companies willing to invest in areas suffering, or about to suffer from job losses due to manufacturing relocations.
- An "exit tax" for companies leaving the U.S. and "claw back" tax breaks for U.S.-based R&D if companies later relocate.
- A $1,500 tax credit for each apprentice hired by a company, in order to develop young talent.
Trump's website does not have a dedicated site for his plan to strengthen manufacturing, so the following positions were gathered from various speeches and his general "trade" and "economy" platforms:
- Allow U.S.-based manufacturers to fully expense the cost of new plants and equipment.
- Reduce the business tax rate to 15%, while adding a 10% repatriation tax.
- Scale back federal regulations. Trump mentions the "Waters of the U.S. Rule" and the "Clean Power Plan" during a speech at the New York Economic Club.
Stricter Trade Enforcement
Both candidates are generally in favor of free trade, but argue the current proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership does not advance U.S. interests and the country needs tougher enforcement mechanisms to protect fair trade.
Clinton's position on trade is ambiguous – so ambiguous, that she does not list it as one of her 41 issues — but her manufacturing proposal includes a few positions on the subject:
- Appoint a special trade prosecutor to enforce trade agreements, taking particular note of illicit dumping of steel by China.
- Reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership since it does not meet her standard of "raising wages, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing our national security."
- Review existing trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and evaluate it based on the above standards.
- Support the Export-Import Bank.
Meanwhile, Trump's trade policy is central to his campaign and his plan to rebuild the economy. He outlines a seven-point plan in his website:
- Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Appoint "tough and smart trade negotiators."
- Identify all current trade violations and use every tool available in national and international law to prosecute offenders.
- Immediately renegotiate NAFTA, and if Mexico and Canada refuse, withdraw from the agreement.
- End sweatshops in Mexico and eliminate the country's value-added tax.
- Label China a currency manipulator.
- Bring trade cases against China in the U.S. and the World Trade Organization.
- Resort to tariffs against China if necessary for their violations, which includes the theft of trade secrets.
Invest in America's Infrastructure
Hardly a center point of Trump's campaign, both candidates recognize the country's infrastructure needs are growing.
Trump's infrastructure plan is elusive at best, but a site search of his website reveals a few key positions:
- Lift restrictions on all sources of U.S. energy and use the revenues to "rebuild our roads, schools, bridges, and public infrastructure."
- Use revenues from regulatory cutbacks and tax reforms to rebuild the country's infrastructure.
- Streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects
Clinton’s plan is more clear cut, as she outlines a five-year $275 billion dollar plan (financed through business tax reform) to meet the country's infrastructure needs. The plan proposes to:
- Allocate $25 billion to a national infrastructure bank to provide credit, issue bonds, select merit-based projects, and streamline public-private partnerships.
- Reauthorize the Build America Bonds program to enhance sources of capital.
- Initiate upgrades of at least the 25 most costly freight bottlenecks.
- Streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects.
- Support multi-modal transportation projects.
- Build a safer passenger rail system.
- Focus on "smart" investments like modernizing airports, pushing for 100% internet connectivity by 2020, creating a resilient electrical grid and promoting smart cities.
Of course, the proposals are but campaign promises which must often be approved or be held accountable by Congress, whose national platform can be found here (Democratic | Republican).
Nonetheless, the positions outlined above reveal the candidates' priorities, and how each while serving as president could impact the supply chain through manufacturing, trade and infrastructure policies.