No education issues were discussed in this evening’s presidential candidate debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Nor did anyone expect education policy would be one of the topics. Mrs Clinton did, however, make a reference to her plan for debt-free college.
Lester Holt of NBC News moderated the debate, which featured an initial segment that Mr Holt entitled “Achieving Prosperity,” but he appended a note that central to that topic is “jobs.” Of course, getting a good education is important for getting a high-paying job, but the 95-minute debate didn’t focus at all on education issues.
“The central question in this election is really, what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together,” Mrs Clinton opened her remarks. “First we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just for those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.”
I want us to invest in youth. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business.
We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guaranteeing, finally, equal pay for women’s work. I also want to see more companies do profit sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.
And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. … Let’s have paid family leave, earned sick days. Let’s be sure we have affordable childcare and debt-free college.
She said she would make this plan happen by closing corporate loopholes in the tax code and having wealthy people pay their fair share.
When Mr Trump had the floor, he began speaking directly about what he believes the effects would be of lowering taxes on corporations from 35 to 15 percent, as his plan calls for:
“Our jobs are fleeing the country,” he said. “They’re going to Mexico; they’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country, in terms of making our product. They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them.”
They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China. And many other countries are doing the same thing. So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them.
When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world—some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much.
So, Ford is leaving … their small car division—leaving—thousands of jobs, leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving, and we can’t allow it to happen anymore.
As far as childcare is concerned, and so many other things, I think, Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do. But perhaps we’ll be talking about that later.
But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all their people.
For the record, Ford’s small car division did decide to move major manufacturing operations to Mexico, but Ford also announced that two other vehicles would be manufactured in the plants that were losing the small cars, including a new Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup. That makes Mr Trump’s example partially true and partially false, even taking into account his exaggeration involving “all their people.”
In general, Michigan and Ohio have lost manufacturing jobs, as Mr Trump claimed, but recovery is in the works. The August unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in Michigan and 4.7 percent in Ohio, both of which are right around the national average.
Still, Mr Trump’s talk about trade showed an astute understanding of the problem, but his solution—killing the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Parternship—is like performing microsurgery with a sledge hammer and would likely have a negative economic impact or very little impact at all, economists say.
Two more debates are scheduled, and education policy may be brought up at some point with both candidates on the stage. But, since education isn’t really a huge federal issue, don’t hold your breath.
A notable absence from the debate was any discussion on the issue of immigration, and I thought that was one of Mr Trump’s biggest campaign points—and probably an area where he differs significantly from Mrs Clinton. Perhaps that will come up some time.
There was some discussion about climate change, although not much was said of the traditional Republican Party position of denying either any contribution from human activity or any possibility that we’ll be able to get the climate change under control.
Mr Trump did say he supports all different kinds of energy, but he didn’t go much more into it than that. He also referred to the traditional Democratic Party position by saying that nuclear proliferation was a much more pressing problem for the US to deal with than climate change.
Four years ago, he tweeted that climate change was a hoax hoisted on the American people by the Chinese in order to force the US to render manufacturing corporations less competitive, although he later characterized that tweet as a joke. He has also tweeted that he doesn’t officially believe that human activity is even a partial cause of climate change.