Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Money Issues
This week, the biggest prize of primary season, Super Tuesday, is up for grabs. And the outcome could have a bigger effect on your finances than any other presidential contest to date this year.
On Tuesday, voters in 12 states and one territory will flock to polling stations to pick their party's nominee for the general presidential election. More delegates will be committed to candidates on Super Tuesday than on any other day. And with a diverse cross-section of places represented—from Alabama to Alaska to American Samoa—the day is set to serve as one of the first indicators of the candidates' electability on a national scale.
So how will the results affect your pocketbook? For those headed to the polls on Tuesday, Money has broken down what you need to know about the frontrunners' stances on big personal finance issues before you cast your ballot.
Hillary Clinton's plan cracks down on the rich. She would require people who make more than $1 million each year to pay at least 30% in taxes—on average they now pay 28%—and would also add a 4% surcharge on the taxes of those who make more than $5 million.
Bernie Sanders' proposal would establish four new federal tax brackets for high earners: 37%, 43%, 48%, and 52%. The top rate would apply to taxable income over $10 million. Additionally, the liberal Vermont senator would raise the rate on people in all other tax brackets by 2.2%.
Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner, suggests creating four income tax brackets: 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25%. The top rate would apply to income above $150,000 for single filers and $300,000 for joint filers. People at those income levels currently pay between 28% to 33% of their earnings in taxes.
Ted Cruz proposes a flat tax of 10% on all ordinary income. The junior Republican senator from Texas would also up the standard deduction to $10,000 per filer, up from $6,300.
Marco Rubio wants to establish three tax brackets of 15%, 25%, and 35%. The top rate would apply to taxable income above $150,000 for single filers and $300,000 for joint filers. He would also eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends.
Clinton has promised to uphold Social Security. She also wants to expand benefits for widows and widowers, as well as for those who take time off work to care for aging parents and grandparents.
Sanders opposes any reductions to Social Security benefits and any increase in the retirement age. He also wants to raise the system's taxable wage limit to $250,000, from the current level of $118,500.
Trump rejects the idea of cutting Social Security benefits. And unlike his Republican opponents, he opposes raising the retirement age.
Cruz wants to raise the retirement age and cap increases in the cost-of-living adjustment. He also wants to allow workers to save up to $25,000 in personal savings accounts.
Rubio supports a gradual increase in the retirement age to match rising life expectancies. He also would make cuts to benefits for higher-income seniors.
Clinton proposes that no family or student should have to borrow money to fund their college education—and that community college be totally free. She also says that those with existing student debt will be able to refinance it at lower rates. Clinton says her plan's $350-billion price tag (over 10 years) would be paid for by tax adjustments for the wealthy.
Like Hillary, Sanders believes in free higher education, but he wants low-income students to use state, federal, and institutional aid to cover the cost of tuition, living, and other expenses. He also wants to more than triple the federal work-study program. Bernie estimates the plan will run about $75 billion a year—and he'll fund it by taxing the "Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago," according to his campaign website.
Trump has never released an official plan that addresses college costs. However, he told The Hill in July, "That's probably one of the only things the government shouldn't make money off—I think it's terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans."
Though Cruz has said he took out student loans to finance his own education, he hasn't said much publicly about addressing student debt. His position on student loans is a bit murky: He's voted in favor of capping federal student loan interest rates as a senator, but he also voted against Sen. Elizabeth Warren's student loan refinancing bill in 2015.
Rubio has often referenced his past as a student loan borrower with more than $100,000 in debt. He supports a universal automatic income-based repayment plan. He also proposes a plan in which students could apply for "student investment plans," in which approved investors would pay a student’s tuition in exchange for a percentage of the student's income for a set period of time after graduating.
Clinton promises to uphold and expand the Affordable Care Act. She would require insurance providers to limit out-of-pocket prescription drug spending to $250 a month, as well as lower the price tag of deductibles and copays.
Sanders proposes a single-payer "Medicare-for-all" system that would provide all Americans with comprehensive health coverage. Under his plan, private insurance would exist only to provide supplemental coverage. His website says the plan would cost $1.38 trillion per year but will save $6 trillion compared to the current health care system over the next ten years.
Trump does not have a formal health care plan (something his opponents attacked him for in the most recent debate). The billionaire businessman says he'd repeal Obamacare if elected, but he's been sparse on the details of what he would replace it with. He's said he would allow people to buy their plans from insurers in any state, regardless of where they live. He also supports using health savings accounts to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance.
Cruz also has not released a formal health care plan. But in debates and interviews, he's said he would also repeal Obamacare and expand health savings accounts. Like Trump, he'd also let individuals buy health insurance in any state, no matter where they live.
Rubio, like his Republican opponents, wants to repeal the ACA. But he suggests replacing it with a refundable tax credit to purchase health insurance, which would increase each year. He'd also let people buy insurance in any state.
In October 2015, Clinton wrote an op-ed in Bloomberg defending the Dodd-Frank Act. If elected, she's said she would protect the 2010 bill that overhauled the country's system of financial regulation. She's also promised she would get rid of the carried interest tax loophole—which lets allows hedge funds, private equity firms, and venture capitalists to avoid billions of dollars in taxes each year—and impose a "risk fee" on banks with more than $50 billion in assets.
Sanders wants to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which would separate commercial banking from investment banking. He's also proposed legislation to break up big banks and supports taxing Wall Street speculation.
Trump has slammed Dodd-Frank, calling it a "disaster." He promised in an October 2015 interview with The Hill that he would "absolutely" repeal it if elected.
Cruz has also called for the repeal of Dodd-Frank, claiming it did not help prevent bailouts and instead merely created pricy regulations.
As senator, Rubio voted against Dodd-Frank four times. He's also said he's not "anti-Wall Street," and has proved that point by accepting more money from Wall Street donors than any other candidate of either party, Reuters reported in February.