From Washington to Poughkeepsie How the Federal Election Can Impact You Above image is owned by DonkeyHotey, and is licensed under Creative Commons As strange as this presidential election cycle has been, it can be difficult to remember that there are many important policy decisions to be made. These decisions will impact each part of the country differently, and both candidates have very different ideas of what those decisions should be. Outlined below are a few issues which will have significant local impact, and what each candidate thinks about those issues. Healthcare As much as the word “Obamacare” gets tossed around, what would a Clinton or Trump presidency mean for Poughkeepsie residents? Trump has stated many times that he would aim to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a better system. However, it is still unclear as to what exactly the new system would be. New York State participates in the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, which provides healthcare for those whose income is under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The ACA also subsidizes health care for those within 400 percent of the poverty line. In Poughkeepsie, around 22 percent of the population is considered to be under the poverty line. Doctors in Poughkeepsie that accept Medicaid can be found here. However, this Medicaid expansion would end if ACA is repealed. Instead, states will be able to administer their own medicaid programs, and they will also be able to sell insurance plans across state lines. Clinton, on the other hand, while looking to make some changes, aims to keep the ACA in effect. In fact, she looks to offer a public insurance option, giving everyone the ability to receive insurance from the government, instead of solely those under Medicare or Medicaid plans. She would also change the cap of health insurance premiums, so that the maximum cost would be 8.5 percent of income instead of the current 9.6 percent. Supreme Court One of the most prominent jobs of a president is to nominate a justice to the supreme court should there be a vacancy, and whoever gets elected in November will do just that. Since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, the court has been functioning with only eight justices. This allows for the possibility of a tie, and so a new justice must be nominated (and approved by congress) for the court to function as it should. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s spot in March 2016, as is his constitutional duty. However, the confirmation has so far been blocked by Republicans in Congress, who claim the next president should have the power to nominate the justice, since Obama is in his last year. Many say this is due to their desire to have a Republican president (in this case Trump) nominate a conservative judge. Garland has set a record for the longest ever gap between nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, with Republicans refusing to hold a vote or hearing. Furthermore, Scalia’s seat may not be the only one up for grabs. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer are aged 83, 80 and 78 respectively. If any of them should step down or die while either Clinton or Trump is in office, that president has the power to appoint up to four new justices. As the Supreme Court is a lifetime position, these justices could hold their seat for decades. There are many large upcoming cases for the Supreme Court to decide on, all of which can have significant local impact — such as transgender citizens’ use of their preferred bathroom. One issue that looks set to reach the Supreme Court in the relatively near future is the property tax exemption of religious buildings. As reported by the Poughkeepsie Journal, the city of Poughkeepsie contains 134 tax-exempt properties, collectively valued at $118 million. Currently, a case is pending in the New York State Supreme Court over a church that lost its tax-exempt status because residents claimed that the church was only used during an annual festival, and otherwise empty. This case, or one like it, could reach the federal Supreme Court, with the decision highly affecting Poughkeepsie and the rest of the state. As Clinton is likely to appoint liberal justices, and Trump conservative ones, the new president could have a big say in the decisions of the highest court in the land. Early Childhood Education A recent issue for many families in this election has been the importance of early childhood education, as well as the high cost of childcare and preschool. At a time where children are expected to enter kindergarten with certain skills, it can be difficult for many families to afford to send their kids to programs that will give them the tools to succeed. For example, 30 percent of students in Dutchess County qualified for free or reduced lunch in 2014. Save the Children, an international children’s advocacy organization, states, “The average cost of full time child care nationally is more than $17,000 for an infant and more than $12,000 for a 4-year old.” If elected, Clinton’s website states her goal to make preschool universal for every 4-year-old, as well as increase investments in the Early Head Start program, which provides services for extremely low income families. In Poughkeepsie, Astor Head Start Center provides a “comprehensive child development program for children ages 3–5,” according to their website. Trump’s website does not provide many details about his early education plan, but he states in a YouTube video posted to the site that he believes “education has to be at a local level,” and that Common Core should be abolished. In terms of childcare, Save the Children has analyzed both candidates’ proposals. They report that Clinton aims to cap the cost of childcare, increase on-campus childcare, and increase wages of childcare workers. Clinton’s website reflects this, saying that higher wages will reduce turnover and increase quality of care. Trump’s plan looks to allow parents to write off the cost of childcare from their taxes, with even stay at home parents able to write off the average amount they would have spent. In their analysis, Save the Children expressed concern that the plan will not actually benefit low income families in practice, and that Trump has not provided details on how his plan (estimated to cost $25 billion) will be paid for. As for Clinton’s plan, Save the Children states that it could cost up to $20 billion, paid for by increasing child care subsidies, providing tax relief to low income families, and increasing taxes on the wealthy. In general, Save the Children reports that it “strongly supports Secretary Clinton’s aggressive proposal to increase families’ access to high quality child care.” Obviously, there are many more issues than this, all of which can impact Poughkeepsie and the Hudson Valley. More information on each candidate’s stance on various issues can be found on their respective websites, at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/issues and https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/