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Debate 2020: The two candidates’ platforms explained

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will continue their conversation on key issues like COVID-19, climate change and race at the debate Thursday.

The Presidential Debate Commission announced earlier this month the six topics for the final presidential debate. These topics include: fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.

At the first presidential debate, Trump and Biden discussed how their policies would shape the next four years for Americans.

Freshman Holly Smith hopes this debate gives her an opportunity to hear more about the candidates’ stances on the issues that matter most to her.

“For me, I’d really like to know where candidates stand on Black Lives Matter and environmental issues, of course,” said Smith. “There’s just so much we need to do.”

For some students, like freshman Cameron Terry, this final presidential debate and its discussion surrounding race and economic policy will help decide how he casts his vote.

“I want to see what happens in this upcoming debate, before I even make a decision,” he said.

Here’s a review of the two presidential candidates’ platforms on key issues:


In the fight against COVID-19, Trump says he will:

  1. Have a vaccine by the end of the year

  2. To make all healthcare workers’ supplies and medicine in America

  3. To refill stockpiles and prepare for future pandemics, according to his website.

In the last debate, Trump reinforced his stance that the country should not shut down again due to COVID-19.

“He wants to shut down this country, and I want to keep it open,” said Trump at the first debate.

If reelected, Trump said he does not plan on enforcing a national mask mandate, but will rather leave it up to state governments to choose.

Biden, on the other hand, lists a mask mandate as one of his key policies in fighting the virus, according to his website.

At the debate, Biden criticized the way in which the current president handled the pandemic, claiming he did not act fast enough.

“He knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was. He knew it was a deadly disease,” Biden said.

If elected, Biden says he will:

  1. Double the amount of testing sites around the country

  2. Rebuild the United State’s relationship with the World Health Organization

  3. Ensure an equitable distribution of tests and vaccines.

Climate Change

The Trump administration has made significant rollbacks to Obama-era environmental policies, including pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord — a decision he defended in the first debate.

“If you look at the Paris accord, it was a disaster from our standpoint,” said Trump.

He also called for better forest management and pointed to his participation in the Billion Tree Project as proof of his dedication to clean air.

In addition, Trump supports:

  1. Offshore oil drilling

  2. Keystone XL Pipeline

  3. Boost production of oil and natural gas

Biden’s plans for environmental protections are extensive, investing over $2 trillion in housing, transportation and conservation efforts.

These investments include:

  1. Creating 1.5 million “sustainable homes”

  2. Methane pollution limits

  3. Creating 1 million new jobs in the auto industry

The goals with these investments would be to reach net zero emissions, according to Biden’s website.

“We can get to net zero in terms of energy production by 2035. Not only not costing people jobs, creating jobs,” said Biden.


At the first presidential debate, Trump confirmed he has done more for Black people than any other president, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.

Trump plans to help Black Americans by:

  1. Continuing low unemployment rates

  2. Increasing federal support for minority-owned small business

  3. Addressing health care disparities with increased funding for low income hospitals

Biden acknowledged the existence of systemic injustice towards Black people in America on the debate floor.

“We can take this on, and we can defeat racism,” Biden said.

Biden promises to do so by:

  1. Expanding access to higher education

  2. Investing in African-American businesses

  3. Expanding African-American homeownership and access to safe housing

Criminal Justice and Policing

Trump’s administration calls for a focus on law and order in American.

The current president believes the government should bolster federal funding and protections for police, and will do so by:

  1. Increasing penalties for assault on police officers

  2. Maintaining bail

  3. Maintaining qualified immunity

Similarly, Biden does not believe in defunding the police, but rather wants to give law enforcement a bigger budget for more adequate training.

Biden’s plan also includes:

  1. Investing $300 million in policing programs for reform

  2. Government oversight of local police

  3. A $20 billion grant for crime prevention

Health Care

The most significant difference between Trump and Biden’s views on healthcare comes down to ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA comprises health care policies that are intended to provide health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

“No matter how well you run Obamacare, it’s a disaster. It’s too expensive. Premiums are too high that it doesn’t work,” said Trump.

Additionally, Trump’s stance includes:

  1. Cutting down drug prices by 80-90%

  2. Lowering insurance premiums

  3. Opposing a public option for healthcare

However, Biden defended the ACA and assured Americans that private healthcare will still be an option.

Biden’s plans consists of:

  1. Protecting the ACA

  2. Providing a public option

  3. Taking a stand against prescription drug corporations

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has been a contentious issue in America ever since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18.

President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barret to the court, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on her confirmation on Thursday, hours before the debate at Belmont. If it passes, the entire Senate will vote to confirm her.

Trump has been criticized for attempting to fill Ginsburg’s seat during an election year, and Vice President Biden has been clear about his opposition to Coney Barret’s nomination. With election day arriving in two weeks, many Democrats believe the seat should be left open until either Trump or Biden is inaugurated in January.

Should Coney Barret be confirmed, conservatives would hold a 6-3 majority. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean every case would be decided by the Republican Party, it does mean they would have the majority needed in every case on their docket.

Aside from Coney Barret’s nomination, the question of court packing has been brought up at both the first debate and the Biden town hall last Thursday.

Court packing is essentially the process of expanding the number of judges on the Supreme Court.

The Biden/Harris campaign has yet to clearly take a stance on the issue. At his town hall, Biden told moderator George Stephanopoulos that he is “not a fan” of court packing, but won’t shut down the possibility of it just yet.


The prosperity of the economy has been a prominent issue for middle and lower class Americans since the arrival of COVID-19.

President Trump has continuously maintained the notion that the country’s economy will significantly improve in the near future, and the unemployment rate will decrease to pre-pandemic numbers if he is elected a second term.

On the other hand, Biden said he believes Trump’s economic approach has only protected billionaires during the pandemic and cited the president’s tax returns as cause of concern.

The Biden/Harris campaign believes the economic recovery is K-shaped, meaning certain industries bounce back from recession while others decline even further.

Trump, on the other hand, said the recovery will be V-shaped if the country is fully opened, with industries improving just as drastically as they declined.

Trump’s plan for the economy includes:

  1. Creating approximately 10 million jobs in 10 months

  2. Reducing job outsourcing and encouraging domestic work

  3. Cutting taxes through incentivizing US-based jobs

  4. Continue free market economy

If Biden is elected, he says he will:

  1. Increasing taxes on those making over $400,000 per year

  2. Instating 28% corporate tax

  3. Reversing Trump’s tax breaks

  4. Increasing minimum wage

This article written by Kendall Crawford, Holly Vonder, Sarah Maninger and Allison Fedorchek.

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