On The Political Front: Trump Gets Specific About Immigration Plan

Aug 17, 2015

Donald Trump
Credit NHPR

On the Political Front in our Monday morning check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

Here we are in mid-August. The days are getting a bit shorter. Is what one GOP presidential candidate, guess who, has dubbed the  Summer of Trump almost over?

Summer is almost over. That I can say with confidence. I’ll speak with less surety on Donald Trump. But where presidential candidates stand in the polls in the summertime, and where they end up in February don’t always correspond. Donald Trump certainly packed in a crowd in Hampton Friday night, and he draws a disparate bunch, from arch conservative New Hampshire House members, people who rarely participate civically,  to others who’ve never even voted, or vote only rarely. His speech Friday was true to form of what we tend to see from Trump: utter self-confidence, excoriation of Washington, derision of other GOPers running for president, and very scant details about what he’d do if here were elected or how. Yesterday, however, Trump released a position paper on immigration, the issue that has seemingly helped catapult him to the top of the polls. It calls for a wall to be built – paid for by Mexico, through increased fees on border crossings. It would also end so-called birthright citizenship.

Now, that’s the first policy proposal from Donald Trump. Other candidates have begun to roll out some specifics, too.

Yes. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has used New Hampshire to roll out specific ideas on entitlement reform, and national security. And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton rolled out her plans to make it easier for students to pay for college and limit student debt.

All the leading Democratic candidates have spelled out proposals on this front?

Yes. It’s become a key issue for Democrats and the amount of student debt carried in this country is huge; $1.19 trillion was the last figure I saw. That's substantially higher than the nation’s gross credit card debt, for instance, and more that what is owed on every car in the country. So the numbers are huge and students in New Hampshire, as you know, graduate with the most debt of any state in the nation. Clinton’s plan would cost $350 billion dollars over ten years. Among other things, it would channel money to states that guarantee public university students can graduate without loans, provide grants to institutions that improve graduation rates, and help low-income and first-generation students to graduate.  It would also allow student debt to be refinanced, or forgiven after 20 years.

Is this any more feasible, politically, than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to make college tuition free, by taxing more activity on Wall Street?

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Credit Kate Harper for NHPR

Well, Clinton’s plan aims to be an easier sell, but I think it’s fair to say that like Sanders' plan, it would be a steep climb for Clinton to get hers through Congress, to say nothing of winning support from governors and state legislatures, particularly in GOP states, which the plan – or compact – as she calls it, would need for it work as promised. But college costs and student debt are issues candidates from both parties are definitely hearing about from voters, and Democrats certainly think the politics of the issue favor them.

A bunch of Republicans candidates will be in Londonderry this week to talk K-12 education.

Yes, the event is sponsored by the American Federation for Children, which is a school choice advocacy group. Jeb Bush,  John Kasich, Scott Walker, Chris Christie,  Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina are all supposed to speak.  I don’t think the governor-heavy list of participants is a coincidence; K-12 education, is of course a key part of any governor’s job. These governors have been aggressive proponents of school choice; Bush, and Jindal almost always talked about it when they campaign . So do Christie and Walker, who also talk up their willingness to battle with education unions.