America's transportation infrastructure is in serious need of help. At this point, only Democratic candidates have articulated substantive proposals for fixing it.
Political primaries are set to begin next week for the hotly contested 2016 U.S. presidential election, and travel-related issues have been at the forefront of the political debate so far.
While xenophobic rhetoric from Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz supporting restrictions to Muslim travel and immigration have garnered the most attention, other candidates are calling for renewed spending on travel infrastructure and increased security at American airports.
Here’s a breakdown of where the top presidential candidates stand on these issues related to travel and tourism.
Visas and immigration
Major candidates on both sides of the aisle supported the enhanced restrictions on visa waiver travel to the U.S. that were enacted last week. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, in particular, has voiced her support for more stringent screening of travelers entering the U.S. from visa waiver countries.
But Republican candidates are taking a much harder stance of immigration and visa issuance overall. Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., while Cruz has called for strict limitations on immigration.
Trump also wants to create criminal penalties for visa overstays.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has taken the lead so far in calls for a major government program to fix America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. A year ago he introduced the Rebuild America Act to the U.S. Senate, which would invest $1 trillion in American infrastructure.
Clinton, as well, has an infrastructure plan that would invest $275 billion in infrastructure improvements and a new national infrastructure bank to fund ongoing projects.
Trump has written an entire book decrying the sorry state of America’s infrastructure, but hasn’t described to a detailed plan to fix it. He says a trillion dollar investment plan won’t work, though.
While governor of Florida, Republican Jeb Bush was opposed to the idea of a high-speed rail network that has since been implemented by his successor.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida proposes removing federal control of infrastructure spending, leaving it up to states to decide whether to invest. He also wants to remove the Mass Transit Account from the Highway Trust Fund, which would severely hamper federal investment in public transportation.
Cruz proposed completely eliminating the Transportation Security Administration early in his campaign, but has since walked back his promise following November’s Paris attacks.
Bush and Cruz want to immediately implement a biometric exit system to help track visa holders leaving the country.
Republican candidate Carly Fiorina left a one-star Yelp review of the TSA in which she does not recommend the organization.
Republican calls for increased security along America’s borders conjure post-apocalyptic scenes from The Terminator, while Democratic plans are more measured.
Trump has proposed building a giant wall between Mexico and the U.S., which would be financed by Mexico and patrolled by 15,000 immigration officials. Cruz proposes a similar plan and calls for increased deportation.
Bush proposes constant surveillance of the border using a combination of drones, radar technology and sensor arrays.
Clinton says enhanced border security is important, but hasn’t articulated a vision for how she would change the current policy.
Rubio is the only major candidate to name the sharing economy as a top issue. He proposes limiting government regulations of sharing economy services, limiting online sales tax and preventing the taxation of online goods.
Clinton targeted sharing economy services in her first economic policy speech last summer, saying she would find ways to limit its abuses as president.
Long-shot Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley weighed in on the sharing economy as well, telling TechCrunch he uses Uber all the time and that sharing economy workers need a benefit safety net like full-time employees.
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Photo credit: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in front of his private jet at a Mesa, Ariz., airport. Gage Skidmore / Flickr