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Trump, Clinton advisors spar over economic plans

Economic plan showdown at debate

As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump head into their first one-on-one debate Monday night, their advisors are confident that their candidate's economic plan will win the day.

The stakes are high. According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, about half of likely voters rely on presidential debates to help them make their choice. And Monday night's debate may command an audience of 100 million.

Gene Sperling, economic advisor to the Clinton campaign and former director of the National Economic Council, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" the Democratic candidate will tout her "very specific plan" for middle-class jobs and wages, infrastructure, manufacturing and small business.

"This is her chance to remind people that she has been championing these issues her whole life," Sperling said. "That will contrast significantly with somebody whose both ideas and experiences … have been basically about what's been good for him, often at the expense of workers."

Puppets in the likeness of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) face-off
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

However, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an advisor to the Trump campaign, said the Republican candidate's economic plan is "100 percent correct."

"Raising taxes and increasing spending is not the way to fix this economy, which now has about a 1 percent GDP growth rate and labor force participant rates equal to 1978 levels," she said on "Closing Bell."

Trump's plan includes $4.4 trillion in tax cuts, expanded infrastructure spending and reduced regulation.

Among Clinton's proposals are higher taxes on the wealthy, increased spending and investing in clean energy.

Sperling said Clinton can increase spending in a "fiscally disciplined way."

"You can have an infrastructure, manufacturing, small businesses, jobs plan that is deficit neutral over time but you front load it so you get a stronger push and that allows you to have a tighter labor market and that will help increase wages," he said.

Meanwhile, a recent NYU study found that Trump's tax plan would raise taxes on millions of Americans, Sperling pointed out.

"His tax plan is now protecting the most well-off and actually raising taxes on middle-class families," he said.

However, Furchtgott-Roth argued that Clinton's plan to raise the minimum wage will hurt the "most vulnerable among us" by discouraging hiring.

"The answer is to have more economic growth, lower taxes," like lowering the corporate tax rate from 39 percent to 15 percent, she said.

"It's Donald Trump who is on the side of economic growth and American families," she insisted.