Let’s take a look at the websites of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on issues that affect seniors.
A striking thing about Clinton’s website is its comprehensive coverage of a long list of issues. Many candidate websites on the Republican side limit themselves to five or six issues, usually “hot button” topics such as the Second Amendment or immigration. Not so, Hillary’s. Her website covers twenty-seven broad issue areas, ranging from campaign finance reform to Wall Street and corporate America, and delves into details and specific proposals under each heading. This gives potential critics plenty of material to work with, and her willingness to run that risk shows courage.
There is much at Clinton’s website of special interest to seniors. The very first issue on her list is Alzheimer’s disease, and she proposes a reliable funding stream of $2 billion per year for research on prevention and treatment through 2025. Current spending is just $586 million per year. Hillary would cover comprehensive Alzheimer’s care planning sessions under Medicare, and work with Congress to re-authorize the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program.
On Social Security, Clinton promises to oppose Republican efforts to raise the retirement age; expand benefits for those who took significant time out of the workforce to care for children, ailing relatives or aging parents; and, place the program on a sound financial footing by requiring the wealthy to contribute more. She would resist Republican attempts to privatize Medicare and would drive down drug costs by permitting the program to negotiate with drug companies on prices. Clinton would also permit seniors to import lowest cost drugs from foreign countries with approved safety standards.
With respect to gun safety, Clinton would reinstate the assault weapons ban and close gun sales loopholes. She also favors repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields the gun industry from civil suits by victims of gun violence. (Clinton is highlighting this issue at the moment as a way of distinguishing herself from Bernie Sanders.)
Meanwhile, Clinton’s website features a host of proposals on the economy, education, infrastructure, and clean energy intended to promote growth and prosperity in the decades ahead. Economic growth, as noted in our 2016 political vision statement, is good for seniors and for those who come after us.
Donald Trump’s website lists just five “positions:” U.S. China Trade reform, Veterans Administration reforms, tax reform, Second Amendment rights, and immigration reform. This is a short list for a candidate who says he wants to “Make America Great Again.” Many seniors have an interest in the Veterans Administration, but reforms are already underway there, thanks to the bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, signed into law by President Obama in August 2014. Trump’s proposed massive tax cuts and draconian immigration measures seem likely to disrupt the economy in ways that would be harmful to all Americans, young and old.
Under “Second Amendment Rights,” Trump defends assault weapons, writing that “Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons,’ ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice.” Recently, Trump has proposed doing away with gun-free zones in schools.
Trump has positions on other issues, not mentioned at his website. In his book, Crippled America, he describes our nation’s infrastructure as “crumbling,” and mentions our deteriorating roads and bridges, our inadequate power grid, and our slow internet speeds compared to other countries. This is a positive, but Trump doesn’t lay out a blueprint for dealing with these problems, arguing instead that we should just trust him because of his experience as a builder. “When you talk about building,” he says, “you had better talk about Trump.” Donald also says he opposes changes to Social Security and Medicare, but offers no practical proposals for strengthening the finances of the two programs. Anyway, he in fact favors one major change – allowing people to invest a portion of their Social Security savings on their own. This is a type of privatization that would benefit Wall Street and leave many seniors short of the funds needed to retire.
Even if we grant Trump a little credit for issue positions not mentioned at his website, there is no doubt that Clinton’s stances fit far more closely with the interests of common-sense seniors.
Coming soon: the websites of Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz.