SOUTH PORTLAND — If you are considering voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, you are probably well aware of the dismal prospects facing too many American workers.

But would Trump, in fact, create more and better-paying jobs? Is it possible that the hardworking middle class would fare worse under Trump than under the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton? Let’s talk about some of Trump’s economic policy proposals, then decide what you think.

More education is a well-documented route to higher wages, but Trump’s education platform is weak. He plans to hand federal student lending over to banks, despite the higher interest rates that implies. To ensure that students could pay back their loans, colleges would work with banks to direct students to majors in line with what business is demanding. He opposes free community college. What’s more, Trump has not discussed retraining for workers whose jobs have evaporated as the economy shifts toward new industries.

Clinton has a strong pro-education stand, with the consequent price tag. She plans to lower interest rates on federal student loans, gradually phasing in repayments based on income. She supports free community college and is also promising to work for debt-free tuition at public universities. She will ask Congress to increase funds for retraining unemployed workers.

Trump’s tax plan gives huge income tax breaks to the wealthiest (equal to 19 percent of after-tax income for the top 0.1 percent), but only modest cuts to the middle class (5 percent of after-tax income). This would result in an increased concentration of wealth and a huge rise in the federal deficit.

Although the deficit would also rise somewhat under Clinton, despite her plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest, the increase under Trump would be much greater, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


Will these tax reductions mean more good jobs? Recent history says no. Since 2000, profits of corporations have tripled and worker productivity has increased 30 percent, but real hourly wages are lower than in 1972; employment is not keeping up with the increase in the workforce.

Inequality is at record highs as profits go to those at the top. When asked about exorbitant CEO pay, Trump declared, “It’s very hard if you have a free enterprise system to do anything about (what companies pay CEOs)” – or, as we know, what they pay workers. Today, the bottom 80 percent of families in the U.S. own only 5 percent of total wealth, not including homes.

Tax cuts entail cuts in federal spending. Trump would slash funding for the U.S. Department of Education, shifting costs to the states for teacher training, special education and more. Other quasi-government and government agencies, from the Postal Service to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would also be affected. States in turn would have to raise taxes to maintain these services. (States, by the way, are now allowed to impose tolls on federal interstates; we could see more such innovations.)

Trump would repeal the Dodd-Frank legislation passed in the wake of the financial crisis, arguing that the new regulations stifle lending and investments. Ask yourself: Is it really advisable to allow once again the same risky financial investments that nearly caused the world economy to collapse in 2008? Clinton is taking a firm stand for further reform, but Congress has so far nixed even bipartisan efforts in this area.

The federal minimum wage should be abandoned in favor of state minimum wages, believes Trump. He favors right to work laws. Not all federal regulation would meet his disapproval: He would probably support federal legislation to restrict consumer lawsuits, for example. He is not worried about climate change and wants to fire up coal plants, despite their notorious carbon emissions.

Clinton is strongly pro-union and supports equity in the workplace for all. She favors keeping our commitment to reduce carbon emissions made in the Paris Agreement on climate.

Trump’s policies would likely bring greater power and profit to U.S. companies. Still, his economic plan was given a failing grade by Moody’s, an international corporation best known for its bond rating services. The Moody’s analysis warned of a diminished U.S. economy and recession under his policies. Clinton’s economic proposal, according to Moody’s, would strengthen the economy and create more jobs.

The president has great influence with Congress, and promotes his economic agenda through the leaders his office chooses for over 5,000 federal posts. Would you rest easy with Trump as president? Think hard about your vote this fall.

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