Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton’s Economic Policy Speech

Clinton made several claims in her speech today.

ByABC News
August 11, 2016, 6:27 PM

— -- Hillary Clinton laid out her economic policies in a speech outside of Detroit today. ABC News fact-checked several of her claims involving both her own policy proposals and Donald Trump’s positions.

Claim: Donald Trump’s child care plan would give 30 or 40 cents on the dollar to wealthy families for child care

Rating: Unclear, but possible. Trump’s child care deduction would disproportionately benefit higher-income families but due to a lack of detail, it’s unclear by how much. A Trump adviser also floated the possibility of capping the income of eligible families.

“He would give wealthy families 30 cents or 40 cents on the dollar for their nannies, and little or nothing for millions of hardworking families trying to afford child care,” Clinton said.

Background: In his economic policy speech this week, Trump announced: “My plan will also help reduce the cost of child care by allowing parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care spending from their taxes.”

What’s clear is the tax deduction would do nothing for families that pay for child care but do not make enough money to pay income tax: Trump’s plan is a tax deduction, rather than a tax credit.

This means that the plan only benefits those who have enough taxable income to use the deduction. As the Associated Press wrote on Trump’s plan, “…because more than 40 percent of taxpayers don't make enough money to owe taxes to the federal government at the end of the year [n]o matter how much they reduce their income for tax purposes by deducting expenses, they still owe nothing.” This means that low-income families that still need to pay child care costs but do not benefit from a tax deduction because they do not pay an income tax would have to pay out-of-pocket.

What is unclear is the level of income that would allow a family to qualify for the deduction.

Trump has not released enough details on the nature of his plan in order to verify this particular claim. According the Associated Press, Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to the Trump campaign, said that the campaign “is still working out specifics and hasn't yet settled on the details of the plan. But [Moore] said households reporting between $30,000 and $100,000, or perhaps $150,000 a year in income, would qualify for the deduction.”

Claim: Hillary Clinton voted against the only multilateral trade deal that came before her as senator

Rating: Technically true, but potentially misleading. This claim omits key context about Clinton’s previous support for other multilateral trade deals, including NAFTA and TPP.

Hillary Clinton said: “I opposed the only multilateral trade deal that came before the Senate while I was there, because it didn’t meet my high bar.”

Background: It is true that, as senator, Hillary Clinton voted against a free-trade deal between the United States and a half-dozen Latin American countries. But her public record on multilateral trade deals is broader than her senate tenure.

As first lady, Clinton publicly supported President Bill Clinton’s endorsement of NAFTA. According to Politifact, she continued to support the deal through the 1990s, and praised it in her 2003 memoir "Living History." Even as recently as 2004, she said “on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America.”

Clinton would eventually change her position on NAFTA during her 2008 campaign for president. Similarly, she now says she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership after previously supporting it, earning her a “full flip-flop” rating from Politifact.

Claim: Donald Trump is against equal pay for women

Rating: Unclear. Trump has been inconsistent on the issue of equal pay. He has said that he believes women deserve equal pay for equal work, but has also suggested equal pay runs counter to the merit-based “American dream.”

Hillary Clinton said: "For example, guaranteeing equal pay won’t just increase paychecks for women – it will boost family budgets and get incomes rising across the board. Yet for some reason, Trump’s against it."

Background: It’s difficult to determine precisely where Donald Trump stands on the issue of equal pay. It is clear, however, that unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump has yet to put forth a formal position paper that spells out his views.

Asked about equal pay on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in August 2015, Trump replied, “If they do the same job, they should get the same pay,” and added that equal pay is “one of the things that we have to look at very strongly.”

He gave a similar response at an October 2015 convention hosted by the group “No Labels”:

Audience member: "I want to get paid the same as a man, and I think you understand that. So if you become president, will a woman make the same as a man? And do I get to choose what I do with my body?"

Trump: "You’re going to make the same if you do as good a job. And I happen to be pro-life. OK? I’m pro-life."

Yet he has also expressed reservations about the policy, saying last November that under wage equality, “you get away from the whole American dream, you get away from capitalism.” He said a policy that undermines merit-based capitalism could lead to “socialism.”

Claim: Student loans cannot be refinanced

Rating: Partly true. While federally-backed student loans can be refinanced into private loans, students may not refinance a federal loan into another lower-interest federal loan.

Hillary Clinton said: "It’s not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts, but students and families can’t refinance theirs."

Background: Politifact investigated this claim after Bill Clinton made it earlier this year, and discovered students face limited options when it comes to refinancing their debt.

According to the nonprofit group American Student Assistance, student loans can be refinanced for lower-interest private loans. But by doing so, they may lose fixed-interest rates or the option to pause repayments, which are both available under federally-protected loans.

So strictly speaking, it is untrue that student loans cannot be refinanced.

However, Hillary Clinton is right that there is currently no legal mechanism that lets students refinance a federal loan into another lower-interest federal loan, which she has pledged to allow if elected.

Claim: Clinton fought currency manipulation and intellectual property theft as secretary of state

Rating: True, but potentially misleading. The State Department is not responsible for fighting currency manipulation or intellectual property theft.

Hillary Clinton said: “And as secretary of state, I fought hard for American businesses to get a fair shot around the world and to stop underhanded trading practices like currency manipulation and the theft of intellectual property.”

Background: As secretary of state, Clinton was certainly responsible for advancing and promoting the priorities of the Obama administration, which included opposing intellectual property theft and currency manipulation around the globe. She made speeches on intellectual property theft while secretary of state, for example.

However, the U.S. Treasury is ultimately responsible for monitoring and fighting current manipulation around the world. The Department of Justice, along with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, is ultimately responsible for fighting and prosecuting intellectual property theft around the globe.

Claim: Donald Trump opposes raising the federal minimum wage.

Rating: False. Although Trump has changed his position at several points during his campaign, Trump currently supports raising the federal minimum wage.

Hillary Clinton said, “Raising the federal minimum wage won’t just put more money in the pocket of low-income families – it also means they spend more money at the businesses in their neighborhoods. Trump’s against that as well.”

Background: The Washington Post recently published a piece that tracked Trump’s position on the minimum wage. According to the article, Trump’s campaign told the Post that “Mr. Trump has voiced support for raising it to $10 at the federal level, but believes states should set the minimum wage as appropriate for their state.”

Politifact also rated Trump’s reversal on minimum wage a flip-flop.

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