Hodgson: Trump v. Cruz (and Kasich): What’s their take on ESG?

What are the environmental, social and governance credentials, if any, of the Republican runners?

As a companion piece to the article which looked at Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s stances on ESG issues, this survey will look at where the three Republican candidates stand on environmental, social and governance issues. So what should we expect if any of them are elected president this November?
The current front-runner Donald Trump does not, like most of the other candidates, have detailed written statements on policy issues. Trump has distilled his messages on issues down to 40-second video soundbites, most of which are taken up by a graphics and a House of Cards-esque theme tune. Many of his promises are repeated, sometimes several times within the same video, sometimes across several videos. All of these can be seen on his issues page. Somewhat predictably, Trump does not address many of the ESG issues that are of primary importance to the Democratic candidates. Instead Trump addresses such issues as political correctness: “Being politically correct takes too much time. We have too much to get done!” His stance on gun law is “I won’t let them take away our guns.” Since Trump’s campaign is self-financed, campaign finance reform is an irrelevance so he does not address it.
In addition to the issues videos, Trump outlines his policies in just six position papers. On healthcare, Trump, like Sanders and Clinton, wants to allow import of pharmaceuticals, and, although he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), many of the reforms to the system that he proposes sound very much like the ACA. Trump’s tax reforms simplify personal income tax significantly and reduce the corporate income tax rate to 15%. Part of the impetus behind this rate cut is to stop the corporate inversions that Sanders and Clinton are seeking to ban. Furthermore, in order to stop US corporations from secreting cash overseas, there will be an end to corporation tax deferral and a one-time 10% tax in the repatriation of corporate profits.
Far from reducing the already large prison population, Trump’s policies seek to increase it by getting violent felons and dangerous mental health patients “off the streets” for guaranteed minimum periods. Far from limiting gun use, a paragraph in his Second Amendment Rights position encourages armed citizens to take the law into their own hands.
Both Trump and Ted Cruz are very pro-Israel and anti-Palestine. Like Trump, Cruz is a defender of the right to bear arms and has fought many legal battles to ensure that right continues. Cruz’s defence of the constitution focusses largely on his defence of religious liberties, though the examples of protecting the right to worship include only those exercising Christian worship.Rather than defending LGBT rights or disability rights, Cruz’s policies seek to defend the rights of the unborn child and of marriages between men and women, rights that he sees as under attack. Like Trump, Cruz will repeal the ACA and simplify the tax code so much that the Internal Revenue Service will cease to exist; indeed, he will also terminate the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He will also repeal most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, like the Clean Power Plan, as well as allowing a free-for-all in drilling and exploration. Unlike Trump, whose lengthy attack on China includes a promise to “put an end to China’s… lax labor and environmental standards,” Cruz does not mention the environment, but he is on record as saying climate change is a liberal conspiracy to increase government power.
While many non-Americans might be forgiven for asking “who?” when the name John Kasich is mentioned, he is still in the race for the republican nomination at the time of writing. Like Cruz, Kasich is a pro-life candidate and has enacted many laws in Ohio, where he was governor, to chip away at the right to have an abortion. Like Cruz, Kasich has been endorsed by the gun lobby NRA and opposes any actions taken by President Obama to impose additional controls on guns. Kasich also wants to repeal the ACA, but has no plans to replace it with anything. All three candidates want to devolve the responsibility for education down to the states. Indeed, for Cruz and Kasich, devolving power to the states is a constant mantra. In Kasich’s case this means devolving transportation planning, workforce programmes, and low income public assistance.
For Kasich, helping America’s most vulnerable means aiding those with mental illness and drug addiction and helping those in poverty move up and out of it. Indeed, he also intends reform to the public health programmes in the US – Medicaid and Medicare – to arrest spiraling costs though it seems as if these will largely be through economic stimulus and job creation so fewer people will need to access these services. Individual and corporate tax rates will also be cut and simplified, with the IRS’s “bias, arrogance and corruption” a special target.
On energy, Kasich seeks to balance care for the environment with job creation. He, like Cruz, would license the Keystone XL pipeline, and among his list of new energy technologies is “clean coal”. He also plans to bring down energy costs by creating abundance of energy which also indicates a relaxation on environmental regulations and increases in the use of all fossil fuels.