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Election Fast Facts

Here are some major policy points from two of the best contenders for the next presidency collated by The Panel:

Hot Topic Biden Trump
Climate Change Former Vice President Biden has called climate change an existential threat, and says he will rally the rest of the world to act more quickly on curbing emissions by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Though he does not embrace the Green New Deal – a climate and jobs package put forward by the left wing of his party – he is proposing a $1.7tn federal investment in green technologies research, some of which overlaps with the funding in his economics plan, to be spent over the next 10 years, and wants the US to reach net zero emissions by 2050 – a commitment that was made by more than 60 other countries last year. He rolled back hundreds of environmental protections and began the withdrawal process from the Paris Climate Agreement (cannot happen until Nov. 4th, 2020). His administration approved oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been off-limits for drilling for decades.
COVID-19 Response Biden wanted 100,000 people to set up national test and contact tracing centers. He wants at least 10 testing centers per state. He initially wanted to national mandate masks, but changed position because of “constitutional issue”, now wants governors to do it. Trump has predicted the economy will bounce back immediately after the pandemic and praised Chinese response through March before reversing and blaming China for the “Kung Flu/China Virus.” He deliberately played down the pandemic to not “create a panic” and left pandemic response largely up to the states with some federal suggestions.
Foreign Relations and Trade He said he will focus on national issues first, but FoPo will still be important. He has also promised to repair relationships with US allies, particularly with the Nato alliance, which President Trump has repeatedly threatened to undermine with funding cuts. The former vice-president has said China should be held accountable for unfair environment and trade practices, but instead of unilateral tariffs, he has proposed an international coalition with other democracies that China “can’t afford to ignore”, though he has been vague about what that means. He is stepping away from some large multilateral agreements like the Paris climate accord or pulling back from some multilateral organisations, like the World Health Organization. He recently helped broker a deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise relations. He brought down US troop levels overseas – specifically in places like Germany and Afghanistan. He challenged some international alliances (ex: NATO, Trans Pacific Partnership) and withdrew from the Iran Nuclear agreement (JCPOA). He authorized strategic strikes on specific individuals (Soleimani, al-Baghdadi).
Healthcare He will implement a plan to insure an estimated 97% of Americans, but stops short of universal health insurance. Biden promises to give all Americans the option to enrol in a public health insurance option similar to Medicare, which provides medical benefits to the elderly and to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare itself from 65 to 60 years old. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan group, estimates that the total Biden plan would cost $2.25tn over 10 years. Though falling short of a complete repeal, the administration has succeeded in undoing parts of that law including a repeal of the individual mandate, which required people to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. He declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency in 2017 and offered $1.8bn in federal funding to states for prevention, treatment and recovery measures. He has also taken steps to restrict opioid prescribing. However, critics say his ongoing efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which expanded healthcare coverage to millions, is detrimental to battling the opioid crisis.
Criminal Justice and Police He opposes defunding the police. He would now create a $20bn grant program to incentivize states to invest in incarceration reduction efforts, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, decriminalize marijuana and expunge prior cannabis convictions, and end the death penalty. President Trump has touted the First Step Act as a key step he made towards criminal justice reform. Trump branded himself as a firm advocate of law enforcement and has remained so during his presidency, most recently escalating his support of police amid the nationwide protests against racial injustice.
Economy Mr. Biden wants to raise min-wage to $15/hour, spend $400 billion on american goods, invest $300 million in U.S. services, and fund manufacturing and R&D. He plans to create a 10% offshoring penalty surtax and a 10% advanceable tax credit for making things in America. Mr. Trump plans to bring back the economy, boost jobs, protect US trade interests, and to continue with his hard-line stance on immigration.
Guns He wants to hold gun manufacturers accountable and civilly liable for shootings. Vice President Bidenis for common sense gun laws, expanded background checks, closing loopholes in legislation, and buyback programs for “weapons of war.”  After this initial flurry of interest, Mr Trump has done little to move these ideas forward. The president has instead continued his vocal defence of the US constitution’s Second Amendment – which preserves Americans’ right to bear arms – and of the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Immigration In his first 100 days in office, Biden promises to reverse Trump policies that separate parents from their children at the US-Mexican border. He wants to rescind limits on the number of applications for asylum, end the bans on travel from several majority-Muslim countries, and protect “Dreamers” and ensure they are eligible for federal student aid. President Trump’s plans for immigration reform faced defeat this summer when the Supreme Court ruled against his administration’s bid to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca). He also wants to eliminate the visa lottery and chain migration – meaning immigration to the US that is based on family ties – and shift to a “merit-based” entry system.


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