Clinton goes after Trump’s economic plan, maintains support for unions

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WARREN, MI - AUGUST 11: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tours Futuramic Tool & Engineering before giving a speech there on the U.S. economy August 11, 2016 in Warren, Michigan. In her speech, Clinton contrasted her economic plan to that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Michigan has had its economic woes.

But, instead of talking about them and new policy proposals, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who is looking to pick up President Barack Obama’s mantel, Thursday attacked her Republican opponent Donald Trump. Michigan voted President Barack Obama into office in 2012.

Trump recently released a new economic plan that would offer a tax break for Americans, simplify the tax code, halve the number of income tax brackets and eliminate mandatory taxes for the poorest Americans.

Clinton, in her speech, said, “Here are four questions that the American people should ask of both candidates — and our answers should make your choice in November crystal clear. First, which candidate has a real plan to create good-paying jobs? Second, who will restore fairness to our economy and ensure that those at the top pay their fair share? Third, who will really go to bat for working families? And, fourth, who can bring people together and deliver results that will make a difference in your lives?”

With economic numbers improving but many Americans not feeling the boost, the economy has become a hot topic in the 2016 race. Clinton has looked to counter Trump’s populist message with pledges to boost the middle class, small businesses, and American manufacturers.

Clinton continued to brand herself as the “candidate who will stand up for working families and the middle class.” She added, Trump will create policies that “only benefits millionaires like himself.”

 The Trump campaign issued a statement Thursday, saying, “Right now the American economy is only working for the rigged system in Washington and on Wall Street, yet Hillary Clinton is running to keep things as they are. Clinton’s plans today will short circuit our economy by raising taxes, increasing spending and killing jobs. Donald Trump presents a better vision and a new direction — a plan to unleash prosperity, create jobs and increase wages so that all Americans can succeed.”

Even the venue for Thursday’s event is another chapter in this effort: Clinton used Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Michigan, a machining and manufacturing plant in swing Macomb County as her backdrop. Clinton avoided diving into the heart of her economic plan, which has a pillar that addresses strengthening unions.

OpenSecrets.org tracks federal campaign contributions. Recent data shows that of Clinton’s major top 20 donors, four are from unions. Information can be found here.

What does her message mean for Pennsylvania?

According to the Commonwealth Foundation, one driving factor of economic distress is unions. The organization cites a new Rasmussen poll, which finds that most voters nationwide believe union leaders wield too much political influence and are out of touch with their members.

“Pennsylvania is a prime example of why voters and even union members are frustrated by union leaders’ out-sized political influence,” said Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy for the Commonwealth Foundation. “For more than a decade, government union leaders have blocked commonsense reforms to the state’s massively indebted public pensions, resulting in skyrocketing property taxes across the state. They’ve also killed major efforts to privatize the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system — reform favored by the majority of Pennsylvanians, including union members.

“Government union leaders’ influence in the state capitol should come as no surprise: The deck is stacked in their favor. Not only can they force workers to pay the union as a condition of employment, but they also tap public resources to collect millions in campaign contributions.”

Only a handful of current union members have the opportunity to vote on their union representation, Stelle added.

“Union leaders claim to speak for working people, but the numbers show they’re speaking a different language,” Stelle continued. “This poll should be a compelling impetus for ending special privileges for government unions and holding them accountable to their members and to the taxpayers.”

Results of the poll can be found here.