WHY IT MATTERS: Issues at stake in election

AP News
|
Posted: Aug 13, 2016 2:30 AM
WHY IT MATTERS: Issues at stake in election

WASHINGTON (AP) — A selection of issues at stake in the presidential election and their impact on Americans, in brief:

HEALTH CARE

About 9 in 10 Americans now have health insurance, more than at any time in history. But progress is incomplete, and the future far from certain. Rising costs could bedevil the next occupant of the White House.

Millions of people previously shut out have been covered by President Barack Obama's health care law. No one can be denied coverage anymore because of a pre-existing condition. But "Obamacare" remains divisive, and premiums for next year are rising sharply in many communities.

Whether Americans would be better off trading for a GOP plan is another question. A recent study found that Donald Trump's proposal would make 18 million people uninsured. GOP congressional leaders have more developed ideas, but key details are still missing.

Overall health care spending is trending higher again, and prices for prescription drugs — new and old — are a major worry.

Medicare's insolvency date has moved up by two years — to 2028.

Hillary Clinton would stay the course, adjusting as needed. Republicans are united on repealing Obama's law, but it's unclear how they would replace it.

___

AMERICA AND THE WORLD

How the U.S. uses its influence as the world's sole superpower is a central feature of presidential power.

It can mean taking the country to war — to protect the homeland or to defend an ally. Or it can mean using diplomacy to prevent war. It can affect U.S. jobs, too, as choices arise either to expand trade deals or to erect barriers to protect U.S. markets.

In the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, America's role in the world is a point of sharp differences. Each says the U.S. must be the predominant power, but they would exercise leadership differently. Trump calls his approach "America first," meaning alliances and coalitions would not pass muster unless they produced a net benefit to the U.S. Clinton sees international partnerships as essential tools for using U.S. influence and lessening the chances of war.

These divergent views could mean very different approaches to the military fight and ideological struggle against the Islamic State group, the future of Afghanistan and Iraq, the contest with China for influence in Asia and the Pacific, and growing nervousness in Europe over Russian aggression.

___

VOTING RIGHTS

Voting rights in America are in flux. Republican-controlled legislatures are tightening voter laws, placing limits on early voting and same-day registration, and imposing new requirements for IDs at polling places. In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That provision had required states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal preclearance to change election laws.

The issue has become highly partisan with the rapid growth of minority populations, which in recent presidential elections have tilted heavily Democratic.

The Obama Justice Department has challenged voter ID and other laws, saying they could restrict access for minorities and young people. Recent lower court rulings temporarily softened some of the toughest restrictions, but litigation remains knotted up with Supreme Court appeals likely. Bills in Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act are stalled.

Donald Trump opposes same-day voter registration, backing laws to ensure only citizens vote. Hillary Clinton wants Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and seeks a national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting.

___

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Robert Burns and Hope Yen contributed to this report.

___

This story is part of AP's "Why It Matters" series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election through Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters