At the third presidential debate, Trump and Clinton talked about the economy (yes, really)

By Tina Irgang

In a contentious, personal debate that at times descended into name-calling, the two major-party candidates for president did fit in a discussion on their positions regarding some key economic issues, such as job creation, trade and immigration. Here’s what they said.

Asked how she would spur job creation and grow the economy, Hillary Clinton emphasized boosting the clean-energy industry and helping small businesses, while Donald Trump said his plan was to renegotiate trade deals and cut business taxes.

Clinton (all debate quotes courtesy of The Washington Post’s transcript):

“I want us to have the biggest jobs program since World War II, jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing. I think we can compete with high-wage countries, and I believe we should. New jobs and clean energy, not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new businesses.

I want us to do more to help small business. That’s where two-thirds of the new jobs are going to come from. I want us to raise the national minimum wage, because people who live in poverty should not — who work full-time should not still be in poverty.”


“We’re going to renegotiate trade deals. We’re going to have free trade, more free trade than we have right now. … I am going to renegotiate NAFTA. And if I can’t make a great deal, then we’re going to terminate NAFTA and we’re going to create new deals. We’re going to have trade, but we’re going to terminate it, we’re going to make a great trade deal.

And if we can’t, we’re going to do it — we’re going to go a separate way, because it has been a disaster.”

There was also discussion of tax plans, although both candidates spent more time criticizing each other than sharing specifics of their own policy proposals.


“[Hillary Clinton’s] plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes. Her tax plan is a disaster. … We are going to cut taxes massively. We’re going to cut business taxes massively. They’re going to start hiring people. We’re going to bring the $2.5 trillion … that’s offshore back into the country.”


“[Trump is] going to advocate for the largest tax cuts we’ve ever seen, three times more than the tax cuts under the Bush administration. I have said repeatedly throughout this campaign: I will not raise taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less. I also will not add a penny to the debt. I have costed out what I’m going to do. He will, through his massive tax cuts, add $20 trillion to the debt.”

On her website, Clinton provides more detail on her own plans for business taxes: “[We will] simplify and cut taxes for small businesses so they can hire and grow. The smallest businesses, with one to five employees, spend 150 hours and $1,100 per employee on federal tax compliance. That’s more than 20 times higher than the average for far larger firms. We’ve got to fix that.”

More detail on Trump’s plans can also be found on his website: “The Trump Plan will lower the business tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax. This rate is available to all businesses, both small and large, that want to retain the profits within the business. [The plan] will provide a deemed repatriation of corporate profits held offshore at a one-time tax rate of 10 percent. It eliminates most corporate tax expenditures except for the Research and Development credit.”

Finally, the candidates shared their views on immigration, with Trump reiterating his call to build a border wall and Clinton arguing that undocumented immigrants should be brought into what she called “the formal economy.”


“Now, I want to build the wall. We need the wall. And the Border Patrol, ICE, they all want the wall. We stop the drugs. We shore up the border. One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords, all of the bad ones — we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’re going to get them out; we’re going to secure the border. And once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. …

We have millions of people that did it the right way. They’re on line. They’re waiting. We’re going to speed up the process, big league, because it’s very inefficient. But they’re on line and they’re waiting to become citizens. [It’s] very unfair that somebody runs across the border, becomes a citizen, under her plan, you have open borders. You would have a disaster on trade, and you will have a disaster with your open borders.”


“I have been for border security for years. I voted for border security in the United States Senate. And my comprehensive immigration reform plan of course includes border security. But I want to put our resources where I think they’re most needed: Getting rid of any violent person. Anybody who should be deported, we should deport them. …

What I am also arguing is that bringing undocumented immigration out from the shadows, putting them into the formal economy will be good, because then employers can’t exploit them and undercut American’s wages.”

Tina Irgang is the managing editor of SmartCEO magazine and Contact her at