Your Guide to Where Joe Biden and Donald Trump Stand on 6 Key Issues

Carolyn Twersky
·14-min read

From Seventeen

We are officially days away from the 2020 election. By now, your plan is set—whether you're voting in person or by mail—and it's time to cast your vote for either the incumbent, President Donald Trump, or the Former Vice President, Joe Biden. While there's a likely chance you've known who you are supporting for months (even years), it's never a bad idea to learn more about the candidates who have a direct impact on your future. I know, all of the information coming at you about the election can be a bit confusing, so we've broken down where both presidential nominees stand on five top of mind issues for the entire country right now. That way, you can feel confident when you cast your vote on November 3rd.

Now, I don't know who needs to hear this but yes, your voice matters. Every vote counts, which is why it's important to practice your civic duty and show up in this election. According to the Pew Research Center, one in ten eligible voters this year is a member of Gen Z. Plus, this generation of voters on track to be more diverse than its predecessors. Eligible Gen Z voters are expected to be 55% white and 45% nonwhite, made up of 21% Hispanic, 14% Black, and 4% Asian or Pacific Islander. Compare that to the Boomer generation, where 74% of voters are white. Gen Z is truly a representation of this country and your vote will exemplify that.

Photo credit: courtney chavez
Photo credit: courtney chavez

You may know what's important to you when it comes to a candidate, but as a whole, Gen Z's top issues are kind of a mixed bag. Taking into account surveys conducted by the Morning Consult and Politico, it seems like the economy is at the top of your mind with 32% of the surveys' respondents saying it was their top election issue. Eighteen percent answered health care and 16% said women's issues like abortion and equal pay. Meanwhile, 10.5% of responders said education was the most important to them and another 8.5% answered energy issues like carbon admissions and renewables. Finally, 8% said security issues like terrorism and foreign policy, 2% said senior issues like Medicare, and 5% answered other. Basically, you're considering a lot of different things when it comes to you future president. So, let's dive in and see where the two candidates lie on five of these major issues.

Photo credit: courtney chavez
Photo credit: courtney chavez

Biden

Despite being a gun owner, Joe Biden has a history of fighting for gun reform. He voted for the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993, which established a national background check system and a five-day waiting period for those who want to purchase firearms. In 1994, Biden also helped pass the controversial Crime Bill, which banned assault weapons for ten years.

On his site, Biden emphasizes that as president he will "end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment." In order to do this, Biden wants to "hold gun manufacturers accountable" by repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which keeps gun manufacturers from being held liable for their products. He also wants to reinstate the ban on assault weapons that Republicans in Senate failed to extend back in 2004.

His plan includes many other points, like, enacting universal background check legislation, ending the online sale of firearms and ammunition, and providing the proper funding to keep these programs running and incentivize states to cooperate.

Trump

President Trump doesn't have in depth plans for the next four years laid out on his site, but in looking at what he has said during his campaign, as well as his actions during his first term, he has proven to have a much more conservative view on gun control.

The National Rifle Association has spent more than $15 million on Trump's campaign to get reelected after spending over $30 million in 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last four years, Trump did a lot to strengthen the gun industry, most recently naming gun businesses "critical infrastructures" so they could remain open during the pandemic.

Trump also loosened regulations on the export of guns and, following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, he suggested arming school teachers as a solution.

After the shooting in El Paso in 2019, however, Trump did show interest in expanding background checks, though no stronger policies were ever created as a result. On July 15th, the NRA officially endorsed President Trump, saying, "You have done more than any president to protect the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The NRA stands behind you and your administration...You promised to defend the Second Amendment and stand tall for the constitutional freedoms in which our members believe. You recognize the Second Amendment is about liberties that belong to all Americans. You have delivered on your promise in extraordinary ways."

Biden

In the past, Biden showed support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion procedures in most cases, but last June, he changed his tune and now his plans for reproductive health include repealing the Amendment.

The Former Vice President's hesitance when it comes to reproductive health has to do with his Catholic faith. Now, though, it seems like he is fully pro-choice and his policies reflect that. As president, Biden wants to stop state laws that violate Roe v. Wade, which provides a constitutional right to abortion. He also wants to restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood and reverse Trump's ruling that organizations that offer abortion services can't obtain funding from Title X, a program set up to help low-income people get the health care services they need.

Trump

In 2017, President Trump expanded the Mexico City policy, also known as the "Global Gag Rule," which bans US funding for groups that conduct abortions or advocate for abortion rights abroad. Trump's expansion also put HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other health groups at risk of losing US funding as well by making them ineligible if they ever referred a client to a family planning service.

Trump has also said that he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade. With Trump's recent appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, he seemingly kept his word. Barrett is a conservative Catholic who believes "life begins at conception." About Roe, she said in 2016, that while she doesn't think that "Roe’s core holding that women have a right to an abortion," will change, "the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions" and "how many restrictions can be put on clinics" will.

Biden

According to his website, "Biden will commit significant political capital to finally deliver legislative immigration reform to ensure that the U.S. remains open and welcoming to people from every part of the world." To do so, in the first 100 days of his presidency, Biden will reverse Trump's policies that result in the separation of families at the border. He will also end Trump's asylum policies, like the Migrant Protection Protocols which force those seeking admission into the US from Mexico to return to Mexico as they wait for their immigration proceedings.

It is important to note that between 2009 and 2016, the Obama Administration—of which Biden was a part of as the vice president—deported over 3 million immigrants, more than any other administration in US history. Now, as Biden runs on his own, this number has continued to haunt him. Biden has denied to have taken part in these deportations, saying his power in Obama's administration was limited. Biden does, however, take credit for the creation the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program. One of his plans, if elected, is to reinstate these programs, which were terminated under Trump's presidency.

Trump

On his website, Trump briefly outlines his plan to "end illegal immigration and protect American workers." This includes blocking illegal immigrants from becoming eligible for welfare, healthcare, and free college tuition. He also wants "end sanctuary cities to restore our neighborhoods and protect our families." Finally, he wants to prohibit American companies from replacing citizens with "lower-cost" foreign workers while also requiring new immigrants to "be able to support themselves financially."

Trump also outlines his achievements over the past four years when it comes to immigration. He mentions pulling the United States out of negotiations for a "Global Compact on Migration," which would have provided a global plan to govern immigration and refugee policies. Trump also mentions terminating DACA, saying that the Department of Justice assessed that the program "lacks legal authorization" and now the Congress can consider "appropriate legal solutions." He has also hired 10,000 new ICE agents and 5,000 additional border patrol agents, proposed a merit-based immigration program, and signed a memorandum that deployed the National Guard to the US border. This is just the beginning of the actions Trump has taken when it comes to immigration. You can read more about them on his website.

Biden

The Former Vice President has shown support for the Green New Deal, a resolution that calls on the government to wean the US off fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to create new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries. His plan to address the "climate emergency" involves the US achieving "a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050."

To do so, Biden says that on day one of his presidency, he will sign executive orders that will put the country on track to reach this goal. These orders include requiring methane pollution limits for oil and gas operations, requiring public companies to disclose climate risks and their greenhouse gas emissions, and investing in research of liquid fuels, which he says "make agriculture a key part of the solution to climate change."

Biden's time in senate mostly supports his current views on climate change. In 1986, he helped introduce the Global Climate Protection Act in the Senate, which called for an EPA national policy on climate change, as well as annual reports to Congress. He also supported caps on greenhouse gas emissions in 2003, as well as higher fuel efficiency for motor vehicles back in 2007, though only the latter of the two passed.

Despite that, Biden didn't vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act back in 2008, known to be the strongest climate change bill to make it to Senate. He also opposed tightening fuel efficiency standards way back in his early days as a senator. His time in the Obama administration was a net-positive for climate change, however, as they achieved the Paris Climate Agreement, which pushed through auto fuel economy standards, and provided regulations on coal-fired power plants.

Trump

The President hasn't changed his views on climate change too much since he originally ran for president in 2016. In the past, the President has called climate change a "hoax," says the Associated Press, but at the first presidential debate last month, he did admit that human pollution and greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the warming of our planet.

Again, on his site, Trump doesn't provide his plan for dealing with climate change, but he does recognize some of the steps he took relating to energy and the environment over the past four years. One of the most notable is the axing of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which had the goal of moving the country away from its use of fossil fuels. At the first presidential debate last month, Trump said he did this "because it was driving energy prices through the sky," but in reality electricity prices were averaging to be just 2% higher through 2030. In fact, Trump has attempted to rescind almost every rule Obama put in place to fight against climate change, including announcing that he will be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump also prohibited California from setting stricter car emission standards in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. On his site, Trump states that he did a lot to expand American energy, including approving both the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines which has provided Americans with "42,000 jobs and $2 billion in earnings."

Biden

Before Biden focuses on the economy, he believes it's important to get the public health crisis under control. However, he does have ideas to do both at the same time. Biden has plans to provide relief for working families, small businesses, and communities that were hit hard by the pandemic. In order to do so, Biden will provide local governments with aid so essential workers are not laid off and will hire those who are currently unemployed to help fight the pandemic.

Once COVID is taken care of, Biden has a plan that involves "four bold national efforts to address four great national challenges" currently affecting America's economy. This includes "bringing home critical supply chains so that we aren’t dependent on other countries" and we can instead build a strong industrial base and provide jobs in manufacturing and technology to Americans.

Biden also wants to invest in modern sustainable infrastructure in order to build a clean energy economy. His third effort involves creating "a 21st century caregiving and education workforce which will help ease the burden of care for working parents, especially women." He wants to provide access to more affordable child and eldercare and increase pay, benefits, and opportunities for those in the industry.

Finally, Biden plans to address the systemic racism in our economy. To do so, he says he will "pursue a dedicated agenda to close the racial wealth gap," expand affordable housing, and invest in marginalized communities.

Trump

The President hasn't provided too much information when it comes to his plan to rebuild the economy following the pandemic. On his site, he says he will create 10 million new jobs in 10 months and one million new small businesses. He will cut taxes to boost take-home pay and enact fair trade deals to protect American jobs. Trump also has plans for new "Made in America" tax credits. While he doesn't elaborate on what that will entail, it most likely means tax breaks for companies that keep their factories stateside. This will also include companies that move jobs previously held in China back to the US, focusing on pharmaceutical and robotics companies, according to NPR.

Biden

On his site, Biden outlines a seven-point plan that he has devised in order to beat COVID-19. First, he will get testing and tracing in order. Biden wants to double the number of drive-through testing sites, invest in new forms of testing, and create a Pandemic Testing Board to help produce and distribute the tests more effectively. Next, he will use the Defense Production Act to enhance production of personal protective equipment. Part three of his plan involves providing "clear, evidence-based national guidance" as well as resources to communities, schools, small businesses, and families.

Once a vaccine has been created, Biden notes that it's important that there is a plan for an equitable distribution of it. In order to do so, he will invest $25 billion in the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine so every American can get one free of cost. As part of his plan, Biden also wants to protect the elderly and those at risk and implement mask mandates nationwide by working with mayors and governors across the country.

Trump

The President has promised a vaccine by the end of 2020, with a return to "normal" in 2021. He also states that he will "make all critical medicines and supplies for healthcare workers in the United States" and "refill stockpiles and prepare for future pandemics." Despite having contracted the virus, Trump still has not released a full plan to combat it. His administration's Operation Warm Speed has a goal of producing 300 million vaccines by January 2021. Part of this plan involves the government support of multiple vaccine candidates, so that once one is proven to be affective, distribution can begin quickly.

In May, the White House announced that they were looking into extending tax breaks to certain low-income communities that have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus. Mostly, though, Trump has left COVID response up to the states, with the federal government acting as a "supplier of last resort."

Of course, this is only a summary of five important issues that the two candidates are running on. Before you cast your vote this year, make sure you familiarize yourself on both Biden and Trump's plans and decide what's important to you when it comes to the future of our country.

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