The U.S presidential election is heating up but it’s still important to discern where the two candidates stand on key issues. Welcome to part three of Trump vs. Biden. What do they stand for?
Let’s start with the current President Donald Trump. What does he stand for?
According to the New York Post, Trump recently promised that he would eliminate the payroll tax entirely if he is re-elected. “On the assumption I win, we are going to be terminating the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year.” What is a payroll tax exactly, and why are people worried that eliminating the payroll tax will weaken Social Security?
Per Investopedia’s definition, a payroll tax is:
“A payroll tax is a tax withheld from an employee’s salary by an employer who remits it to the government on their behalf. The tax is based on wages, salaries, and tips paid to employees. Payroll taxes are deducted directly from the employee’s earnings and paid directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by the employer. In the United States, payroll taxes are divided into three main categories: Federal income, Medicare, and Social Security. The government also collects money for federal unemployment programs.Investopedia
Trump signed a major piece of tax legislation in 2017 called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Investopedia has a full length report on the act. 65% of Americans did get a tax cut (via The Tax Policy Center.) However, the Investopedia report notes that the Trump tax plan has some downsides.
“In its finalized form, however, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cuts the corporate tax rate, benefiting shareholders, who tend to be higher earners. It only cuts individuals’ taxes for a limited period of time. It scales back the alternative minimum tax and estate tax, as well as reducing the taxes levied on pass-through income (70% of which goes to the highest-earning 1%). It does not close the carried interest loophole, which benefits professional investors. It scraps the individual mandate, likely driving up premiums and making health insurance unaffordable for millions.“Investopedia
Foreign Relations: Iran
According to a Forbes report, President Trump said this week that, “Today I’m directing the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the previously suspended nation sanctions on Iran.” Trump pulled the U.S out of the Iran Nuclear Deal back in 2018.
Trump had added additional sanctions on Iran. According to Politico, “Many of the U.S. sanctions also penalize non-American firms and governments that do business with Iran, so few entities outside Iran are willing to invest in the country.” Trump is trying to utilize the deal’s “snapback mechanism,” which would enable the countries who participated in the nuclear deal to reinstate international sanctions on Iran. Triggering the snapback, could theoretically weaken or kill the deal entirely, according to the Politico report.
Back in 2018 the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a climate change report created by, “A team of more than 300 federal and non-federal experts—including individuals from federal, state, and local governments, tribes and Indigenous communities, national laboratories, universities, and the private sector,” stated that:
“With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states…Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.“The National Climate Assessment
According to the BBC, Trump responded to the aforementioned report by saying, “I don’t believe it.” Trump also stated his intent to withdraw the U.S from the Paris Agreement in 2017, which was a global agreement between nations to work on ways to combat climate change.
According to ec.europa.eu, the Paris Agreement, “Sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts. The Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement.”
U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last year that, “President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by US pledges made under the agreement.” (Via climatechangenews.com)
According to a World Resources Institute report, the Trump administration has made changes to legislation initially created to combat climate change. For example:
- The Trump administration weakened rules set by the Obama administration that, “required auto companies to make vehicles 4.7% more efficient each year.” (Per The Guardian.)
- “In 2019, the Trump EPA proposed to eliminate existing standards requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and repair leaks of methane — another super pollutant — from both new and existing equipment.”
- The Trump administration took apart the “Clean Power Plan,” and reworked it in a way which, “According to the agency’s [Environmental Protection Agency] own analysis — could result in 1,400 additional premature deaths from air pollution and $30 billion in health damages per year compared to the original Clean Power Plan, with the most dire impacts felt in the Midwest.”
How does Joe Biden stand on the aforementioned issues? Let’s explore.
Remember the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Trump signed into law? Biden would repeal the income tax reduction for citizens making over $400,000, according to the taxfoundation.org. According to the Tax Foundation, Biden would also, “Increase the 12.4 percent payroll tax on wage and self-employment income earned above $400,000,” as well as, “Taxing capital gains at ordinary income tax rates—up from a top rate of 23.8 percent today—for those earning over $1 million.”
A report from Reuters noted that various posts circulating on Facebook claiming that Biden would raise taxes from twelve to twenty five percent on families earning $75,000 dollars a year were incorrect.
“Biden would roll back the income tax reductions of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), for those with incomes over $400,000. He would also subject wages above $400,000 to the same 12.4% Social Security payroll tax that is currently only taxable for incomes up to $137,700.”Reuters
According to kiplinger.com, Biden has also proposed the following tax changes.
- Expanding the child and dependent care credit to $8,000 per child (up to $16,000), and making it refundable and payable in advance;
- Forgiving student loan debt and excluding the forgiven amount from taxation;
- Expanding the work opportunity tax credit to include military spouses;
- Enhancing tax breaks and access to 401(k) plans for workers who are saving for retirement; and
- Creating tax credits for small businesses that offer retirement plans for their workers.
Foreign Relations: Iran
The Iran Nuclear Deal was adopted when Biden was still vice-president back in 2015. While there has been a lot of speculation in the media on how Biden would handle the deal, Biden himself has yet to take a firm stance on the matter. In the interim, check out his foreign policy address from last year.
Biden did talk about climate change in his acceptance speech for the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party this past week. According to an Axios report, Biden’s proposed climate change plan would, “call[s] for $2 trillion in new investments over four years in clean energy and climate-friendly infrastructure programs.” Biden also states on his official website that he supports the Green New Deal which was initially first proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey as a way to tackle climate change. According to the Biden climate change plan, Biden would:
- “Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050“
- “As President, Biden will use the convening power of government to boost climate resilience efforts by developing regional climate resilience plans, in partnership with local universities and national labs, for local access to the most relevant science, data, information, tools, and training.“
- “The Biden plan will ensure that communities across the country from Flint, Michigan to Harlan, Kentucky to the New Hampshire Seacoast have access to clean, safe drinking water.“
- “Vice President Biden has committed that Biden for President will not accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives.”
The U.S presidential election is less than 75 days away. Will you be voting?