Presidential policy matters to Missouri’s economic future
Let’s begin by setting aside the off-color tweets and unfiltered insults. Let’s also ignore the email server and subsequent FBI investigation.
Let’s look past Benghazi. Let’s forget about the bankruptcies.
For the sake of this article, let’s not dwell on the many factors that have turned the presidential campaign into something resembling an unpopularity contest. If you want to read about the scandals, look elsewhere.
Because beyond those headlines, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have laid out contrasting economic ideas — some of which address key issues facing Missouri.
Energy policy is a good place to start, as it highlights a big, and important, difference between the two candidates. In Missouri, power is largely generated from coal — the state generated 78 percent of its power from coal in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
However, new environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan unveiled during President Barack Obama’s tenure are aimed at transitioning the nation away from coal. In Missouri, this has led to concerns about increased energy costs.
In response, Trump has proposed reversing the trend away from coal. He has said he would like to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, which is leading the push away from coal power.
“We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan,” Trump said at a North Dakota rally in May.
Trump’s embrace of coal indicates that if he becomes president, coal could remain a major source of power in the country. That would likely give Missouri the option to continue its status quo as a coal-reliant state.
“The Clean Power Plan standards set the floor, not the ceiling,” Clinton said in a statement last year. “We can and must go further.”
Clinton has proposed a dramatic shift to renewable energy sources, including installing roughly 500 million solar panels by 2020. She wants to produce enough renewable energy to power every home in the U.S. This path would ensure Missouri continues its transition away from coal power.
It’s unclear how much impact a major investment in solar production would have in Missouri, which is rated as having an average solar resource compared with other states, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
In addition to energy policy, Missouri businesses will have to adjust to the next president’s workforce ideas. The need to improve Missouri’s workforce is one of the top business concerns in the state. Only 44 percent of Missouri business leaders said they are satisfied with the availability of skilled workers, according to a Gallup survey commissioned as part of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Missouri 2030 strategic plan.
Clinton would address this problem with a program she calls the New College Compact, which would eliminate college tuition for most students and help make college debt-free. She has also proposed boosting technical training and other workforce development programs.
“Companies are already partnering with universities and education providers to create degree programs outside of traditional settings, so that students can obtain skills directly relevant to career placements,” according to a policy paper released by the Clinton campaign. “Hillary will enable students to use federal student aid in these types of new programs, as long as they are accountable and have proven track records of success.”
Trump has said he wants to see more competition in education, with less federal oversight. He strongly opposes the Common Core State Standards.
“We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education,” Trump said in a video on his campaign website. “Common Core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.”
Some of Trump’s most defined workforce proposals are intertwined with his position on immigration. Many of his ideas in this area are aimed at compelling businesses to hire American workers before looking outside the borders. He wants to retool the government’s high-tech guest worker program to ensure companies are paying guest workers the same wages as American workers. He would also end a visa program for foreign youth and instead insist that companies hire inner-city youth.
Trump has also proposed making all employers use the federal E-Verify system. E-Verify use is not currently required for most Missouri companies. Clinton has not stated a position on E-Verify.
In recent years, Missouri has also debated the issue of the minimum wage. Clinton supports phasing in a raise for minimum-wage workers to $15 per hour while studying the impacts of the increase. In interviews and debate remarks, Trump has agreed with keeping the minimum wage as is or raising it as high as $10 per hour. He has said he prefers that states set their own minimum wages.
Regarding paid leave, Clinton is proposing expanding benefits to allow for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. According to her plan, this would be paid for by new taxes, including what she calls a Fair Share Surcharge on people who make more than $5 million per year. Trump has not offered a stance on expanding leave benefits.
Business-minded voters should also consider the influence the next president will have over the future of the Supreme Court. Nominating a replacement for former Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year, will be one of the first responsibilities of the next president. Trump has publicly released a list of potential nominees. Clinton has not released a list of names of people she would consider forwarding to the Senate for confirmation.