Here Are the Actual Issues from Last Night’s Presidential Debate


Well, that was something. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump held a tense, aggressive second presidential debate on Sunday night. But while the candidates spent most of their time talking about personal issues we’ve all heard before (like Clinton’s emails and Trump’s tax returns), they did occasionally veer into what they actually want to do as president.

So, here are some of the major policy issues the two candidates discussed during Sunday night’s debate. Click through to learn more about these issues, vote and tell your reps what you think.

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Both candidates acknowledged on Sunday night that the Affordable Care Act is flawed. Trump, however, said it would be too expensive to try to fix the law and that it needs to be fully repealed and replaced. The U.S. needs to find a new healthcare solution, he argued, that would be “much less expensive and something that works, where your plan can actually be tailored.”

Clinton highlighted some of the law’s more popular aspects (such as allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26 or requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions), and argued that repealing the law would mean doing away with those parts of it as well. But she also said that premiums are too high and the law needs changes to fix that.

Congress has long talked about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. What do you think?


They agree! … On taxes?

Well, not entirely. Clinton and Trump went back and forth on who’s really raising taxes on whom (here’s a quick run down of Clinton’s tax plan and Trump’s tax plan). But, both candidates say they favor getting rid of what’s called the “carried interest” loophole, which as Trump said Sunday, is “one of the greatest provisions for people like me.”

Basically, carried interest is a percentage of an investment fund’s profits that are paid to the fund’s manager. The loophole is that those profits (basically the fund manager’s salary) is taxed at a lower rate (it’s treated as a capital gains tax) than it would be if the feds treated it like income. For 2016, that means that carried interest is taxed at a 23.8 percent rate, rather than the maximum rate of 39.6 percent for income, according to Quartz.

The loophole has long been controversial. Critics say it’s an unnecessary benefit to wealthy Americans, while those who support keeping the carried interest loophole say Congress is unfairly targeting one specific industry’s money because they think it will play well with voters. What do you think? Should Congress do away with it?



The candidates were also asked about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war, and what role the U.S. should play in helping the people there while fighting ISIS.

Clinton criticized Russia for its role in the violence there, but argued in favor of arming Kurdish forces in the region to help fight ISIS and protect people in both Iraq and Syria. Critics worry that arming the Kurds will inflame tensions with the Iraqi and Turkish governments.

Trump argued that Clinton can’t vet the Syrian rebels and warned of dire consequences down the road for supporting them. “She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who the rebels are. You know, every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people. And you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people — look at what she did in Libya with Gadhafi. Gadhafi’s out. It’s a mess.”


Clinton also said that she supported investigating both Syrian and Russian leaders for war crimes over the bombings in Aleppo, Syria. Should the U.S. step in or let the United Nations take care of these investigations?


The Environment

Finally, the internet’s debate winner Ken Bone asked both candidates for their views on how the U.S. can meet its energy needs, while also being environmentally friendly.

Trump argued that the Environmental Protection Agency is over-regulating the industry, resulting in job losses and poor energy outcomes for the U.S. Congressional Republicans have pushed several bills in recent years to limit the EPA’s power. Currently, they’re looking at legislation that would require the EPA to publicize the science behind new regulations before they could go into effect. The House passed the bill last year, but the Senate has not voted yet. What do you think?


Clinton focused on the need to fight climate change and earn energy independence. But she added that she will also work to “revitalize coal country,” so that those workers aren’t left behind.

Congress is considering legislation that would serve as a formal (but not binding) commitment to address climate change. Should they pass it?


See you next time

The final presidential is on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 9pm.

— Sarah Mimms

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