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Election 2016: Where the Candidates Stand on Issues Affecting the Construction Industry
November 04, 2016
Here we are. The rollercoaster 2016 election is ending. Millions of Americans have voted already. Polls show a close race heading into Election Day. As the last Americans go to the voting booth, we take a look back at what the candidates have said about the issues most affecting the construction industry. 
The chart below summarizes publicly available information on the two major party candidates’ positions on the following issues: infrastructure spending, climate change and the environment, small business, minimum wage, international trade, and taxes.
The Issues Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton Republican Party: Donald Trump
Infrastructure Spending Clinton plans to invest $275 billion on infrastructure development within five years. Of that, $250 billion would be allocated to direct public investment and would come from business taxes, while the other $25 billion would fund a national infrastructure bank with responsibility for issuing loans and other forms of credit enhancement.
Clinton has explained that her plan will focus on the following:
  • Repair and expand roads and bridges
  • Lower transportation costs and unlock economic opportunity by expanding public transit options
  • Connect all Americans to the internet
  • Invest in building world-class American airports and modernize the national airspace system
  • Build energy infrastructure for the 21st century and unlock America’s clean energy potential by modernizing infrastructure such as dams, levees and wastewater systems to save billions of gallons in clean drinking water and generate clean energy
Trump has long pledged to double Clinton’s infrastructure investment.  On October 22, he unveiled his plan for the American Energy and Infrastructure Act (“Act”), a signature legislative measure he would pursue during his first 100 days in office.  According to Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter,” his legislation would be revenue neutral and would leverage public-private partnerships and private investments through tax incentives to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years.  While he has not detailed how the Act would achieve these goals, Trump has previously said he would invest between $500 billion and $1 trillion on new roads, bridges, broadband and more. In interviews, he frequently refers to the need to improve roads, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, airports and railways while interest rates remain at historic lows. Trump also has referenced creation of an infrastructure fund supported by government bonds, and he has pledged “to put American steel and aluminum back into the backbone of our country.” Of course, a long-time centerpiece of Trump’s campaign also has been his plan to construct a border wall with Mexico.
Addressing Climate Change Clinton plans to invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Clinton believes climate change is an urgent threat and plans to make America the world’s “clean energy superpower” by taking steps to reduce carbon pollution at home and around the world. Clinton plans to have half a billion solar panels installed by her first term and has stated her goal to power every American home with clean energy by 2026. On water issues, Clinton has pledged to increase investment in water infrastructure to replace aging distribution lines and to establish a Western Water Partnership to coordinate water use in the Western U.S. Trump rejects the concept of climate change, which he has called a hoax, and has maintained that taking action to mitigate its effects will make the U.S. uncompetitive. Trump has pledged to make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water while conserving natural habitats, reserves and resources. He plans to focus heavily on oil and drilling by cutting regulations and expanding access in oil-rich areas. Trump also promises to restore coal production as a central source of American energy and would like to see fracking expanded greatly. Trump has said access to clean water would be a top priority, and has urged investment in fresh water infrastructure, including desalinization and distribution networks.
Small Business Clinton supports giving small businesses more access to financing, reducing red tape and simplifying tax filing. She wants to focus on reducing regulations on small banks and would double support for community development financial institutions and the state small business credit. Trump believes that small businesses should fall under the same statutory tax rate as bigger firms. He has called for reducing or eliminating corporate loopholes that cater to special interests and for overall plans to reduce the amount of regulations faced by small businesses, particularly regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Minimum Wage Clinton supports raising the minimum wage and strengthening overtime rules. She has proposed a $12 federal minimum wage and supports state and local governments to go even higher to $15. She supports the Obama Administration’s expansion of overtime rules. Trump has commented that he supports an increase in the minimum wage, but that the establishment of such rates should be left to the individual states. In the past, he has supported an increase in the federal minimum wage rate to $10.
International Trade Clinton has supported free trade deals in the past, although she has opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership. She has stated that, to gain her approval, trade deals would need to meet high environmental and labor standards. Trump strongly opposes international trade deals. Trump has called for congressional rejection of trade promotion authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership. He also wants to reverse course in trade relations with China and Mexico. He proposes strong negotiation and imposing tariffs with both countries.
Immigration Clinton’s Vision:
  • Introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office. She states her legislation will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.
  • Defend President Obama’s executive actions known as DACA and DAPA
  • Enforce immigration laws humanely by targeting resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety, and ensure refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. have a fair chance
  • Promote naturalization by working to expand fee waivers to alleviate naturalization costs, increase access to language programs to encourage English proficiency, and increase outreach and education to help more people navigate the process
Trump’s Vision:
  • Prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people
  • Establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first
  • Protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living in the U.S. by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions. Select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient
  • Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting presently cannot be ensured
  • Enforce the immigration laws of the United States and restore the Constitutional rule of law upon which America’s prosperity and security depend
  • Construct a border wall with Mexico to control the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Taxes Clinton’s tax proposal does not include changes to the current income tax brackets, but would cap the tax value of itemized deductions at 28 percent of the deduction.
On the business side, Clinton would strengthen rules preventing inversions, including the creation of a new “exit tax” on un-repatriated earnings of U.S. firms that have undergone inversion (i.e. reducing corporate taxes by reincorporating overseas to avoid paying domestic taxes on foreign earnings). Clinton’s plan also would establish business tax credits for profit-sharing and apprenticeships.
Trump proposed relief for middle class workers, simplification of the tax code, and taking preventative measures to keep corporations from escaping tax on foreign earnings. He proposes establishing four individual tax brackets, eliminating the alternative minimum tax and net investment income tax, and a 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on certain investment income. All personal tax deductions would be eliminated with the exception of charitable deductions and the mortgage interest deduction.

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