In Their Own Words: Trump and Clinton on Poverty

This year’s presidential campaign has been about a huge list of topics – but one that seemed to be largely missing from that list was poverty and homelessness. Here’s a last minute, pre-election primer on where the candidates have stood.

– Trump says he’ll get Americans out of poverty by “creating incentives.” 

No, it’s not a question of things. It’s a question of incentives. We have to create incentives. We have to restructure our tax system so that people create incentives. You can do zones. You can do lots of different things to get people to work. We have to change — I mean, we have a very massive change coming up because this country cannot sustain itself. It just can’t.

Every income group receives a tax cut under the Trump plan, with million more being removed from the income tax rolls and low-income Americans paying no income tax at all. The greatest percentage reduction in tax bill goes to working and middle class taxpayers.

  • Trump said he wanted to spend $20 billion on school choice initiatives for 11 million children living in poverty.

“If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal and win two World Wars, I have no doubt that we can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in the country,” he said. 

– Clinton says she wants to “connect housing to opportunity” via a $25 billion housing investment program.

Clinton will increase support for affordable rental housing in the areas that need it most and encourage communities to implement land use strategies that make it easier to build affordable rental housing near good jobs.

– In addition to having a section for poverty on her own site, Hillary Clinton outlined a plan for “helping America’s poor” in a New York Times op-ed.

My plan would expand Low Income Housing Tax Credits in high-cost areas to increase our affordable housing supply, and fuel broader community development. So if you are a family living in an expensive city, you would be able to find an affordable place to call home and have access to the transportation you need to get to good jobs and quality schools. 

– Clinton “appreciates” the idea of a “10-20-30” proposal, one that Speaker Paul Ryan also supports.

I am concerned about what’s happening in every community in America, and that includes white communities, where we are seeing an increase in alcoholism, addiction, earlier deaths. I’m going to do everything I can to address distressed communities, whether they are communities of color, whether they are white communities. I particularly appreciate the proposal that Congressman Jim Clyburn has–the 10-20-30 proposal–to spend more federal dollars in communities with generational poverty.

Tessa Roy is a freelance writer currently based in Boston.

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