US Election 2020 Key Issues: Jobs, the economy and where Trump and Biden stand

While President Donald Trump touts the country’s pre-pandemic economy, Joe Biden is focussing on building back better, promising to ‘create millions of good-paying jobs’

US Election 2020 Key Issues: Jobs, the economy and where Trump and Biden stand

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of October 2020, a staggering 23.2 million people were on unemployment benefits in the United States. Although the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits is beginning to fall in many parts of the country, unemployment rates still remain alarmingly high amid a relentless COVID-19 pandemic and receding federal fiscal stimulus.

With the labour market recovery showing signs of strain, and a continuing drop in factory output and consumer spending, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the United States’ economy hard. The current unemployment numbers represent the worst job loss that any American president has faced going into an election since the Second World War. It is no surprise, then, that voters place high value on the presidential candidates’ plans to rebuild the economy after the pandemic.

While President Donald Trump touts the country’s pre-pandemic economy, claiming he is the candidate to pull it out of the slump and make it “great again”, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is focussing on building back better, promising to “create millions of good-paying jobs”.

Where Trump stands

Jobs appears as the first subject in Trump’s agenda, followed by COVID-19 and China. In this agenda, Trump’s campaign claimed the president’s priorities include creating 10 million jobs in 10 months and a million new small businesses.

“We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before. We will create 10 million jobs in the next 10 months. And it will be higher than that,” Trump said at the Republican National Convention in August.

Even if Trump wins the election and manages to keep his promise of creating 10 million additional jobs, the United States economy would still have 3 million fewer positions than it did in February 2020.

Trump also plans to further ease tax regulations and said he supports enacting additional tax cuts. “Just as I did in my first term, I will cut taxes even further for hardworking moms and dads. I will not raise taxes; I will cut them, and very substantially. And we will also provide tax credits to bring jobs out of China back to America, and we will impose tariffs on any company that leaves America to produce jobs overseas,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration enacted regulations that bar the federal government from buying goods and services from any company that uses products from five big Chinese corporations.

Trump also signed an executive order in August incentivising federal agencies to source their jobs domestically instead of outsourcing them. This was in line with several other executive orders that Trump signed to boost domestic production.

Where Biden stands

Biden and the Democratic camp propose reviving the economy on the strength of their Build Back Better campaign where they wish to increase government spending to cut unemployment in essential sectors, focus on domestic manufacturing and invest in renewable energy.

Biden plans to provide state and local governments federal aid to prevent “educators, firefighters and other essential workers” from being laid off, and extend unemployment insurance to others who have been forced out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also proposes providing a “comeback package for Main Street businesses and entrepreneurs” to get back on their feet after the economic blow in the last few months.

The former vice-president supports a $15 per hour minimum wage, universal paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid medical and family leave.

Like Trump, Biden also promises to shift focus to American manufacturing and production. He promises to sign executive orders in his first week as president to ensure the federal government uses taxpayer money to buy domestic products and supports local chains.

Biden said his ‘America-first’ policy will make a $400 billion procurement investment and a $300 billion research-and-development investment in the sectors of clean energy, telecommunication, biotechnology, transportation and artificial intelligence.

The Democratic nominee also said he’ll change the national tax code so that it encourages domestic production, “establishing a Biden Offshoring Tax Penalty and a Biden ‘Made in America’ Tax Credit”. He said tax regulations under him will help the poor and make big corporations “pay their fair share”, by abolishing tax for personal income under $4,00,000 and raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.

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