Okay, I don’t take Donald Trump very seriously as a presidential candidate. I mentioned this in an online forum and someone said they knew a couple of people who said they liked his policies. Well, to be honest, I really didn’t know what his actual policies were, so I went to his campaign’s website to see what he was really about. I thought to myself, this would tell me his policies and stands on the issues straight from his campaign, not bits and pieces gleaned from soundbites and pushed through a media filter.
With this optimistic spirit, I went to www.donaldjtrump.com and was presented with a big picture of Donald Trump and a menu that looked like this:
Hmmm…. nothing about issues or policies readily apparent. Maybe it was in ‘about’. Nope–nothing there but a bunch of stuff about how great Donald Trump is. The videos didn’t seem to be a lot of help either.
Well, so much for that. But I was curious now, what do other candidates provide on their campaign’s website? I decided to check out a more conventional candidate and went to Scott Walker’s website. His campaign is about solutions, not about personality, right? Of course there would be information there.
I went to www.scottwalker.com and was presented with a big picture of Scott Walker with the slogan ‘Let’s get to work.’ With that slogan there had to be some good information on the issues. I clicked on the menu icon and…
… sigh. I tried the ‘Meet Scott’ option, but no dice. Maybe I could intuit what his policies would be from some of the accomplishments listed there, but I’m not looking to have to intuit things.
I decided it was time for a game of sorts. I would pick four issues of the day and see if a visit to the candidate’s website would tell me his or her solutions. For the four issues I decided on the ones listed below. There are plenty of other important, even critical, issues, but I didn’t want to get bogged down with too many and these have been in the news of late.
1. Healthcare – Healthcare is always in the news and I don’t think even supporters of the ACA (aka Obamacare) think it solves all our healthcare problems. So what is the candidate’s solution to making healthcare accessible to everybody and controlling the growth of healthcare costs?
2. Wages – It’s well established that lower and middle class incomes have been stagnant in terms of adjusted dollars for quite awhile. What does the candidate propose to do to help grow income for the bulk of Americans?
3. Black Lives Matter – What does the candidate propose to do to address the serious social and economic injustices that face the black community? Yes, other groups face problems that need addressing too, but this has really been brought to national attention recently even though the problem dates back to the very beginning of the country.
4. ISIS – What does the candidate propose to do to diminish ISIS and address the chaos in Syria? This is one of the biggest foreign policy challenges of the day.
I decided to rate the answers to these questions with the following scale:
Nope – No information or something so vague that it is meaningless. Score of 0.
Sorta – An answer that’s vague or leaves big questions. Score of 1.
Okay – An answer that gives me an idea of the direction the candidate will take if not precise policy. Score of 2.
Good – A solid answer with some actual policy details. Not every detail, but enough to really evaluate the solution. Score of 3.
Okay. So far the score is:
Trump: Healthcare – Nope, Wages – Nope, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Nope. Score: 0
Walker: Healthcare – Nope, Wages – Nope, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Nope. Score: 0
Next up, the two Republican candidates I consider (along with Walker) the most likely to get the GOP nomination: Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.
First Jeb Bush, or Jeb! as his campaign says. Like the others, I’m greeted with a big picture of the candidate and a menu. Again, no obvious place to go for his stand on the issues. Maybe I could glean something from the news items he links to or from his description of his accomplishments in his ‘Meet Jeb’ section, but there’s nothing that’s really there for me on issues and policies.
Bush: Healthcare – Nope, Wages – Nope, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Nope. Score: 0
On to Rubio. Again, there is a big picture of the candidate, but this time there’s a menu item that says ‘Issues’. Now we’re cooking! Let’s see what the Rubio campaign has to say on the issues.
There’s a section called ‘Obamacare’ that is about transitioning from the ACA after it receives a fatal blow from the King v. Burwell case. Well, that’s a little out of date, but it does spell out what Rubio thinks our Healthcare system should transition to.
First, we should provide an advanceable, refundable tax credit that all Americans can use to purchase health insurance. The value of these credits should increase every year, and we should set the tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance on a glide path to ensure that it will equal the level of the credits at the end of the decade. This will prevent large-scale disruptions and reform one of the most significant distortions in our tax system.
Second, we must reform insurance regulations to encourage innovation. Americans with pre-existing conditions should be able to find coverage through their state’s federally-supported, actuarially-sound high risk pools. Americans living in high-cost states should have the opportunity to purchase coverage across state lines. Consumer-centered products like health savings accounts should be expanded. And under no circumstances should taxpayers be asked to bail out an insurance company that loses money, as is currently the case under Obamacare.
Third, we must save Medicare and Medicaid by placing them on fiscally sustainable paths. Without reforms, these programs will eventually cease to be available for those that need them. I believe we must move Medicaid into a per-capita cap system, preserving funding for Medicaid’s unique populations while freeing states from Washington mandates. Medicare, meanwhile, should be transitioned into a premium support system, empowering seniors with choice and market competition, just like Medicare Advantage and Part D already do.
I’m rating that answer as ‘Good’. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the solution, but I’m getting the information I need and that rates a ‘Good’.
This was a little harder to find. But I did find something under the ‘America’ section.
If we reform our tax code, reduce regulations, control spending, modernize our immigration laws and repeal and replace ObamaCare, the American people will create millions of better-paying modern jobs.
If we create a 21st century system of higher education that provides working Americans the chance to acquire the skills they need, that no longer graduates students with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to jobs, and that graduates more students from high school ready to work, then our people will be prepared to seize their opportunities in the new economy.
That took to me his ‘Student Loans’ section. To get more clarification and that seemed to boil down to this:
I believe that before any of our young people take out student loans, that school has to tell you how much you can expect to make when you graduate from that degree from that school so people can decide whether it’s worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to major in basket weaving.
All-in-all it’s pretty vague, but there is a little bit of policy idea in there. I’m going to give this a ‘Sorta’.
Couldn’t find anything. This is a ‘Nope’.
There’s a section called ‘ISIS’ so this was easy to find. There’s a lot about why ISIS is a problem followed by this solution section:
First and foremost, we need to move now to degrade ISIS’s capabilities. The President’s decision to send 300 advisers to Iraq is a good first step, but their ability to deter ISIS will be limited unless we eventually engage in airstrikes to target their leaders as well as the supply lines that they use to transfer weapons and fighters between Syria and Iraq. We know where these supply lines are, we should not hesitate to halt the ISIS resupply to their strongholds in Anbar, Ninawa and Salah ad-Din.
Second, we also need to understand that our lack of an effective Syria strategy has allowed ISIS to take hold and flourish in the region.
ISIS has been able to develop its capabilities, increase its ranks, and obtain combat experience for its fighters over the last 18 months in northern Syria.
We need to begin to tackle the root causes of the problem in Syria by overtly arming the moderate Syrian rebels that are fighting ISIS in that country even as we simultaneously tackle the challenge they currently pose to Iraq.
The U.S. and allies should consider additional counter terrorism measures in Syria, perhaps working with regional partners. This is all a response to the same problem, and must be part of a unified strategy.
The President’s long overdue announcement on Thursday of an overt plan to train and equip moderates in the opposition is a welcome development, but we need to do much more to finally deal with the threat that the Syrian conflict poses to regional stability and ultimately, to U.S. security.
Third, as ISIS has gained ground in Iraq, its wealth and ability to make money have increased. We need to stop their ability to sell the Syrian and Iraqi oil they attempt to market to the outside world. We also need a new diplomatic strategy to counter ISIS funding and support.
Unfortunately, some of our partners in the Gulf have contributed to this problem. Others in the region have turned a blind eye to foreign fighters flocking to the fight. This needs to end.
Finally, our partners in the region need our support. Jordan deserves special attention and assistance. Jordan is already dealing with an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in Syria. Jordan is a close partner of the United States and a likely target of ISIS’s attention. In recent days, the group captured the border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.
The United States should find ways to make clear that the United States will defend Jordan’s security, including militarily if necessary.
Some will argue that the challenges faced by Iraq or countries such as Jordan are none of our business. That we have spent too many years, lives, and dollars trying to make Iraq and the broader Middle East a better place.
None of the options before us are ideal, but the question is whether we take action against ISIS now or deal with the consequences later here on U.S. soil.
There’s a lot here, but there’s plenty that’s pretty vague, especially on how to stabilize Syria. The U.S. is already performing airstrikes on ISIS and arming other rebels in Syria, so some of the proposals aren’t anything different than what Rubio’s campaign says isn’t working. I don’t think I can go ‘Good’, but I think I can go with an ‘Okay’.
Rubio: Healthcare – Good, Wages – Sorta, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Okay. Score: 6
There are still plenty of Republicans out there, but I think it’s time to check out a couple of Democrats.
Hillary Clinton’s website has a slight difference in style with a large banner with a picture of the candidate. There is a link right up front called ‘The Four Fights’ that takes me to her stand on the issues. She appears to be trying to build more of a narrative than just breaking it down to individual issues, so finding specific topics isn’t that easy, but I suppose it’s just a matter of taste. Here’s what I could find:
Defend the Affordable Care Act and reduce health costs
We will slow the growth of overall health care costs and deliver better care to patients. And we will ensure that the savings from those reforms benefit families—not just insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations.
This is pretty vague, but it does state that she intends to keep the ACA so that’s a policy of sorts. I’m going to give it a ‘Sorta’.
This is a tough one to score. Clinton touches on a lot of issues related to helping lower and middle class families. Some very directly related like economic growth, raising the minimum wage, and protecting the rights of workers to organize. However, there’s also mention of more affordable child care, more affordable college education, and other things that make it easier to work or find better-paying jobs. There are several points about making it easier for small-businesses to grow and provide jobs. Other points include tax breaks and paid family leave that will benefit lower and middle class families, but don’t address wages. However a number of those points are like these:
We will make the necessary investments in infrastructure, research, and education to put people to work today and grow our economy for tomorrow. Increased investment will lead to economic growth, that in turn will increase wages and boost bottom lines for both families and American businesses.
Child care is a critical issue when it comes to our economy, our families, and our children’s future. We will make quality, affordable child care a national priority to give working families the support they need and give our children the opportunities they deserve.
In other words, really vague. Still there are so many points and some with enough specific content that I’m going to call it ‘Okay’.
Again, you have to go digging around but there is an acknowledgment of the issue and a little bit addressing the criminal justice system.
We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America. From Ferguson to Baltimore, the patterns have become undeniable. There is something wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than their white counterparts. A third of all black men born today face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes.
A balanced criminal justice system
The recent tragedies in Ferguson, Baltimore, and North Charleston demonstrate the need to reform our criminal justice system and restore balance to our communities. The inequities that persist undermine our shared vision for what America can be and should be.
One out of every 28 children now has a parent in prison. We will work to end mass incarceration while keeping our communities safe.
The bonds of trust and respect between police officers and the citizens they protect are eroding. We will listen to law enforcement leaders and work with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions.
Our communities need change that can be felt in our streets. We will ensure that federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets. And we will make sure every police department in the country has body cameras to record interactions on patrol.
I’m going to have to go with a ‘Sorta’ here. There isn’t much in the way of details and it only focuses in on mass incarceration and policing when there are plenty of other issues.
There is a little bit on ISIS:
ISIS and the foreign terrorist fighters it recruits pose a serious threat to America and our allies. We will confront and defeat them in a way that will truly enhance our security instead of miring our troops in another misguided ground war. And we will empower our partners to defeat terrorism and the ideologies that drive it, including through our ongoing commitment to Afghanistan’s democratic government and our partnership to build Iraqi capacity.
I think I have to call this a ‘Nope’. She wants to avoid a ground war, but everything else is so vague I can’t make out a policy.
Clinton: Healthcare – Sorta, Wages – Okay, Black Lives – Sorta, ISIS -Nope. Score: 4
Next, I went to the Bernie Sander’s Campaign website to check it out. Like the Republican websites there is a big picture of the candidate. There’s also a link for ‘Issues’ so I know right where to go. From the list of issues presented you can see Sander’s focus on economic justice so there’s not much information once you stray to other issues. Still, let’s go through the four issues in my game.
Now I think most people know that Sanders would like to implement universal healthcare coverage with a single-payer system like Canada or several European countries do. However, there’s not really anything about it on the website so I have to give this one a ‘Nope’.
While it’s not all in one place there is a lot about improving employment and increasing wages along with less direct benefits like required sick, vacation, and family leave time. There are some specific points as well that highlight what he has supported in the past and presumably would support as president.
Introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure, creating and maintaining at least 13 million good-paying jobs while making our country more productive, efficient and safe.
Opposed NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China, the TPP, and other free-trade agreements. These deals kill American jobs by shifting work overseas to nations which fail to provide worker protections and pay extremely low wages.
Introduced the Employ Young Americans Now Act with Rep. John Conyers. It would provide $5.5 billion in immediate funding to employ one million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, and would provide job training to hundreds of thousands of others.
I think I’ll give this one a ‘Good’.
The only mention I could find was a concern about unemployment among young black people.
A recent study found that over 50 percent of young African-Americans and more than one-third of white and Hispanic youth are looking for full-time work.
A brief mention of one problem isn’t enough to give me any real information so I have to go with a ‘Nope’.
Nothing there. ‘Nope’.
Sanders: Healthcare – Nope, Wages – Good, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Nope. Score: 3
Where to now? I think I’ll switch back to the Republicans and go to Chris Christie. He’s the ‘Telling It Like It Is’ candidate, so I’d expect him to have some views on the issues listed.
When I loaded up his website something horrible happened. He has a huge autoplaying YouTube video. I hate websites that autoplay audio or video upon loading. Am I saying you shouldn’t vote for Christie because he has autoplaying video? Yes. Yes I am.
Anyhow, once I paused the video I turned my attention to the menu and there’s an ‘Issues’ link. All right, let’s see where he stands on my test issues.
There’s some good information on his Medicare and Medicaid proposals with a summary on his issues page and bullet points giving specific details on a linked PDF. (Really? Links to PDF files? C’mon put some effort into the website.) However, I can’t find anything on healthcare outside of Medicare and Medicaid.
Here are just the summaries for what’s there on Medicare and Medicaid:
Medicare spending growth is placing an inescapable burden on future generations and failing to produce high-quality health care results for our seniors. In order to make these programs fiscally solvent for future generations and improve the kind of health care services and treatment those utilizing these programs receive, Governor Christie proposes keeping it simple – if you can afford to pay more for your health benefits you will and if you can’t, you won’t. Governor Christie proposes expanding the existing sliding scale for Medicare premiums for higher-income seniors.
Governor Christie proposes giving each state a set amount of Medicaid funds indexed to the number of enrollees in Medicaid. Under such an arrangement, Medicaid would continue to provide more funding for states and low-income individuals when the economy is doing poorly and unemployment increases. By implementing a per capita cap system, all states will have increased freedom to tailor Medicaid programs to their citizens in the best-suited manner for their state.
There’s so much good detail under these topics that I’m going to go with a ‘Sorta’ despite the lack of information on healthcare outside these programs.
The best place to find his ideas is to go right to his PDF on his economic plan. This starts off with a quote about the importance of growing middle-class wages.
“As a Republican, I don’t suffer from the disease that Democrats do – I don’t feel the political need to vilify the wealthy and accomplished. But by the same token, I do not feel we need to protect them either. The policies of this president have led to a crippling decline of middle class wages and opportunities, while our wealthiest have gotten wealthier on a stock market fueled by borrowing and easy money. I will not attack or vilify those who have been successful, but America now needs leaders who will fight for our middle class by growing our economy and unleashing the opportunities that will come with growth.”
You can follow this to the PDF to see more:
There’s a lot of good information on his policies here, but mostly it’s about creating more economic growth in general and not very specific about what to do about stagnant wages for the lower and middle class, a problem that extends well before the Obama administration despite periods of strong economic growth. I think I’m going to have to go with an ‘Okay’.
There’s nothing. ‘Nope’. One could argue that his proposals on educational reform and economic growth will benefit the black community, but that’s not good enough to say the issue is being addressed.
You have to follow the link to his PDF, but there is a little bit about ISIS mixed with Iran.
Confront ISIS And Check Iran Through Regional Coalitions:
Iran might not have the bomb right now – but their influence is absolutely radioactive. Meanwhile, our piecemeal strategy to deal with ISIS doesn’t inspire confidence. We need to contain Iran with our moderate Sunni Arab allies, while at the same time rolling back the shadow of ISIS. We need to do more to organize our allies into a strong coalition on the ground, and to train and equip the moderate opposition to Assad in Syria and to ISIS across the region.
Meh. I’m going to go with a ‘Nope.’ I don’t think there’s enough for me to go with a ‘Sorta’ here even though it’s close.
Christie: Healthcare – Sorta, Wages – Okay, Black Lives – Nope, ISIS – Nope. Score: 3
Well, that’s what I consider to be the major Democrats and major Republicans (plus Trump and Christie). All in all, I don’t feel especially informed after visiting their websites, though kudos to Macro Rubio for giving me the most information on my topics of interest. I’m especially disappointed in the campaign websites for Bush and Walker that have no information laid out on their positions at all.
Maybe I’ll get to some of the other candidates later.
There’s still a lot of time to go before the primary voting begins, so I ask the presidential candidates to please post more information on their positions. Maybe in today’s political landscape issues aren’t really that important, but I like to at least pretend they are. This is the candidates’ perfect platform for laying out their ideas with no media filter and with the ability to express all the supporting arguments they wish to spell out. Why not use it?
(Remember, I’m not rating how good I think the policies are, just how much information there is about them.)
Cumulative Score For the Issues
(Scale of 0 to 3 summed over 7 candidates.)
Healthcare: 5 – Huh. Pretty low.
Wages: 8 – Looks good compared to the others but it averages out to a ‘Sorta’ answer over all the candidates.
Black Lives: 1 – Seriously? This is one of the biggest issues of the day.
ISIS: 2 – I really expected to find more than this.
State of the presidential candidate websites? Great if you want to donate money. Not so great if you want to actually learn what they want to accomplish as president.