With the impact of the pandemic on the economy, the economic agendas of the candidates in the 2020 US general election have become particularly important and may influence the outcome.
In general, Trump's policies are more about external causes and protectionism, while Biden’s economic plans are more realistic, supporting internal adjustments and free trade. While Trump focuses on the working class, Biden has put more emphasis on benefiting the middle class in his economic plan.
Biden and Trump both support infrastructure development. The Democrats have released a 10-year, $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan as part of the election campaign, and Trump also said he wanted a $2 trillion plan as part of the coronavirus relief package.
In terms of taxes, Donald Trump wants to keep rates low, while Joe Biden plans to raise them. Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and adjusting the income level of individual tax brackets. Compared to Biden’s plan for capital gains taxes, Trump wants to decrease the rate from 23.8% to 15%. If elected, Biden will impose 15% minimum tax on the book income of large companies, apply Social Security taxes to earnings above $400,000, tax capital gains and dividends at ordinary rates for those with annual incomes of more than $1 million, and ensure 75% of the tax hike will be paid by the top 1% of households.
Regarding trade, Trump and Biden aim to try to build America's strengths and constrain China in different ways. Trump insists on “America first” and has instigated a trade war with China in his first term. He prefers to stop the trade deficit through unilateral tariffs. Biden focuses on domestic supply and global alignment. He wants a coalition with international allies around the world, and to re-join international organisations withdrawn from by the Trump administration, to restore the United States' international influence.
The bull market on Wall Street, rising GDP, 50-year low in unemployment, and 4.7% wage increase for poor workers per year were supposed to be the selling points for Trump’s re-election.
He is trying to convince the Americans that his previous achievements make him the best choice to restore the economy. However, Trump is facing a crisis over his economic policies and his opponent, Joe Biden, claims that his mishandling of the pandemic exacerbated its impact on the economy.
The differences in their economic plans will influence the results of the election. Middle-class people who support racial equality and free trade may be inclined to vote for Biden. On the other hand, white people with low income, low education and lack of life security may choose Trump as the loss of jobs and income is more frightening than a pandemic.
Image thanks to Planned Parenthood. Accessed 30th October 2020. https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections/biden-v-trump