Joe Biden and Donald Trump: Economic Policies
The forthcoming American presidential elections provide Americans with an opportunity to choose between two presidential candidates who espouse divergent economic policies. In the presidential election, the Republican presidential nominee, incumbent President Donald Trump, is facing off former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, in a closely contested political duel. The two presidential candidates espouse differing perspectives on a range of policy issues, such as international relations, national security, and the economy. Given the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are particularly interested in discerning the economic policies of each presidential candidate. Joe Biden, who has more than fifty years’ political experience, proposes a more progressive fiscal plan characterized by increased corporate taxes and taxation of the rich. Donald Trump, however, espouses a conservative economic policy characterized by trade protectionism, reduced corporate taxes, and taxation of the rich. Donald Trump and Joe Biden though proposing divergent economic policies on economic issues, such as taxation and trade, similarly propose combative policies with regard to Sino-American relations.
The last four years of President Donald Trump’s reign have been characterized by fiscal conservatism focused on boosting America’s economic growth mainly through tax reductions and economic nationalism. Fiscal conservatism is a politico-economic philosophy on economic policy and responsibility that is characterized by advocating for tax cuts and reduced government spending (Barrow). President Donald Trump in 2017 signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that reduced the corporate tax from 35% to 21% and the income level of individual tax brackets, with the taxation rate of the highest tax bracket falling from 39.6% to 37% (Barrow). President Donald Trump also advanced trade protectionism and economic nationalism with his America First slogan; thus, instigating numerous trade wars between America and its erstwhile trade partners, such as China, South Korea, and Mexico.
Under the leadership of former President Barack Obama and his Vice-president Joe Biden, America adopted progressive economic policies aimed at promoting egalitarianism. The economic progressivism adopted by the Obama administration was characterized by moderate tax increases on the rich to reduce the nation’s income disparities and the federal budget deficit (Walt). President Barack Obama’s progressive economic policies enabled America to successfully end the 2008 economic recession and spur massive economic growth in the nation. To address the legal loopholes and gerrymandering in the American banking sector that directly led to the 2008 financial crisis, President Barrack Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2010 (Walt). The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act regulates both bank and non-bank financial companies, credit, debit, and prepaid cards, thus, hugely minimizing the likelihood of another financial crisis (Walt). The Barack Obama administration also embraced free trade and signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was by then the world’s largest free trade agreement.
Senator Joe Biden espoused economic centrism as his main politico-economic philosophy. Economic centrism is a politico-economic philosophy that tends to reconcile and balance economic progressivism and fiscal conservatism that are diametrical opposites (Krugman). Joe Biden’s economic policies have mainly been characterized by his admiration for hard-working Americans and the desire to protect the interests of the working class. Throughout his entire Senate career, Joe Biden was an avid supporter of free trade and played a massive role in the enactment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Former Vice-president Joe Biden has been a life-long supporter of trade liberalization. In his current economic plan, Joe Biden, however, takes into account the widespread American resentment of China’s unscrupulous and unfair trade practices, such as intellectual property theft (Mashayekhi). Therefore, Biden advocates not for free trade but rather for fair international trade where all nations are to engage in scrupulous trading with their conduct regulated by a transparent international body (Mashayekhi). Joe Biden’s economic policies on international trade also prioritize bringing economic activity back to America above trading with foreign partners. To achieve his plan of bringing jobs back to the country, Joe Biden plans to offer incentives to American companies that bring jobs back to the nation and impose penalties on those that decide to operate in foreign countries.
Donald Trump has maintained his radical economic plans on international trade that are focused on renegotiating long-standing trade deals and agreements. Since his election into office, Donald Trump has consistently maintained that the international trade system is unfairly calibrated to exploit American workers. The Donald Trump administration views the signing of two major trade deals, an updated trade pact with Mexico and Canada, and Phase 1 of a China agreement, as massive economic achievements (Barrow). Donald Trump’s economic policies on international trade are, therefore, aimed at renegotiating major trade deals in which America is involved to tame the nation’s massive trade deficits and offshoring of American jobs.
Donald Trump’s Last 4 Years
Donald Trump’s reign as president of America has been characterized by his radical economic nationalism aimed at putting American commercial interests before that of any other nation. Economic nationalism is an economic ideology that favors state interventionism over other mechanisms of the free market and opposes globalization by promoting trade protectionism (Mashayekhi). President Donald Trump’s economic policies of economic nationalism resulted in a costly trade war between China and America. The radical economic nationalism policies espoused by the Donald Trump’s administration also affected the operations of the world’s largest free trade agreements as President Donald Trump withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific partnership and re-brokered the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (Kessler). The economic policies implemented by President Donald Trump’s administration were aimed at reducing America’s huge trade deficit and bringing back to the nation millions of manufacturing jobs off-shored to foreign countries, such as China and Mexico.
Under President Barack Obama’s 8-year reign America adopted a progressive economic policy that favored the development of free international trade. President Obama’s economic policy for international trade was centered on pursuing comprehensive and high-quality free trade agreements and developing greater cooperation with China (Walt). President Obama’s administration support for free trade is manifested by its silent update and upgrade of the NAFTA and its urging of Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2006 and the Korea Free Trade Agreement in 2007 (Walt). President Barack Obama and his Vice-president Joe Biden also adopted a more liberal way of dealing with international trade disputes, particularly with China. Instead of resorting to trade wars, President Barack Obama’s administration opted to use the World Trade Organization (WTO) to settle its trade disputes with China.
Senator Joe Biden supported free trade agreements and voted for NAFTA when it is was officially approved by America in 1993. During the reign of former President George H.W. Bush, Senator Joe Biden voted in support of NAFTA (Kessler). The fact that he voted for NAFTA yet claims to vouch for the interests of the American working class has been called into question by Republicans, particularly Donald Trump and his campaign team. However, former Vice-President Joe Biden has defended himself by stating that he only voted for NAFTA after President George H.W. Bush promised that the free trade agreement would entail both environmental and labor enforcement mechanisms (Kessler). This was, however, not the case as the original NAFTA agreement had no enforcement mechanisms. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Joe Biden conceded that Donald Trump’s restructuring of NAFTA was on point, particularly the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (Kessler). Based on his actions Senator Joe Biden supported free international trade agreements particularly those that protected American workers.
Joe Biden’s current foreign policy plans are aimed at rebuilding America’s international reputation and aggressively confronting Russia’s expansionist plans in Eastern Europe and Asia. According to Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s America First narrative has watered down America’s international standing and, therefore, his foreign policy will be aimed at rebuilding the nation’s relationship with its allies (“Fact Sheet: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Trade Enforcement Record”). To achieve his goals, Joe Biden is keen on re-establishing the foundations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which he argues is central to countering Russia’s expansionist aims in Eastern Europe and Asia. Though pledging to end America’s participation in protracted wars, Joe Biden also believes that the American Army plays an integral role in maintaining world stability and peace. Joe Biden takes a progressive stance on immigration and climate change which he deems to be part of national security. To tackle climate change, Joe Biden advocates for the rebuilding of America’s diplomatic corps and rejoining of the Paris climate accord.
In his first term, Donald Trump built his foreign policy around the America First slogan and implemented conservative plans for tackling issues such as immigration and climate change. To stem the inflow of Mexican immigrants into the nation President Donald Trump built more than 200 miles of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. By pledging to put America’s interests first, Donald Trump was able to pull America out of numerous international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, which he deemed did not secure American interests. Moreover, during his four-year tenure, President Donald Trump questioned the science behind climate change and made public his intention to withdraw America from the Paris Climate Accord. During his reign, Donald Trump also managed to remove America from mainstream geopolitics and matters of global security and stability. In his tenure, President Donald Trump reduced the U.S. military footprint in both Afghanistan and Iraq and promised to reduce the American military involvement in future international conflicts.
The Obama administration enacted a progressive foreign policy plan aimed at strengthening the nation’s ties with its international allies. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy treated immigration and climate change as both humanitarian issues. To tackle immigration the Obama administration offered relief aid to various Third World countries whose nationals constantly immigrated into America. The Obama administration tackled climate change by ratifying the 2014 Paris Climate Change Accord that is aimed at tackling global warming. Stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly in the Middle East was also an integral element of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. President Obama was able to successfully broker the Iran nuclear deal which resulted in Iran abandoning its intention to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Senator Joe Biden adopted a pragmatic approach to foreign policy that always aimed at accentuating America’s geopolitical position. From his actions as a Senator, Joe Biden advocated for narrow objectives in America’s use of force to shape foreign societies. While in the Senate, Joe Biden supported wars such as the Iraq War and opposed others such as the Gulf War (Wilson). As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden advocated for the strengthening of America’s diplomatic core and the strengthening of America’s international standing through leveraging its alliances and global institutions (Wilson). Senator Joe Biden also advocated for climate change and viewed immigration as a humanitarian problem that can be permanently solved through the issuance of aid to developing nations.
The four-year reign of President Donald Trump has been characterized by his confrontational foreign policies on China. President Donald Trump adopted aggressive policies in his relations with China a nation that he accuses of intellectual property theft, economic espionage, and currency manipulation (Wilson). In light of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump also accused China of being solely behind the genesis of the virus (Wilson). Donald Trump’s current foreign and economic policies with relation to China are still aggressive and confrontational. If re-elected President Donald Trump is likely to continue with his trade war with China and try to cajole the Asian powerhouse into an agreement that protects American economic interests.
Former Vice-president Joe Biden has also adopted a confrontational approach in his foreign policy on China. Joe Biden has termed China’s rise to economic and political prominence in the world as a serious challenge and criticized its abusive trade practices and poor human rights track record (Wilson). The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has, however, ruled out trade wars and stressed that he would effectively pushback against China by working in tandem with America’s international allies to tame down China’s worrying economic and political influence (Wilson). Like President Obama, Joe Biden is more likely to use international bodies such as the WTO to exert pressure on China if elected.
The forthcoming presidential elections provide Americans with an opportunity to determine their future economic fate. The forthcoming elections pitting archrivals Joe Biden and incumbent Donald Trump come at a time when the American economy has been wrecked by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders, Joe Biden and Donald Trump espouse differing economic and foreign policies on how to resuscitate the American economy. The onus is now on the American populace to exercise their civil right and vote in a leader whom they think will best protect their collective interests. However, regardless of whoever is elected into office in the forthcoming elections from the economic and foreign policies of the two contestants, it is quite evident that future Sino-American relations will be confrontational.
“Fact Sheet: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Trade Enforcement Record.” Fact Sheet: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Trade Enforcement Record | United States Trade Representative, ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/fact-sheets/2015/january/fact-sheet-obama-administration’s
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Kessler, Glenn. “Analysis | Biden Oversimplifies the 1993 Debate over NAFTA Side Agreements.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Sept. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/09/14/biden-oversimplifies-1993-debate-over-nafta-side-agreements/
Krugman, Paul. “The Very Strong Case for Bidenomics.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Oct. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/10/01/opinion/trump-biden-economic-policy.html
Mashayekhi, Rey. “Whether Its Trump or Biden, Americas Policies on China Will Continue to Shift Dramatically.” Fortune, Fortune, 10 Sept. 2020, fortune.com/2020/09/10/biden-trump-china-policy-trade-war-human-rights/
Walt, Stephen M. “Barack Obama Was a Foreign-Policy Failure.” Foreign Policy, 18 Jan. 2017, foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/18/barack-obama-was-a-foreign-policy-failure/
Wilson, Rick. “Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America From Trump-and Democrats from Themselves.” Foreign Affairs, 16 July 2020, www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/2020-04-14/running-against-devil-plot-save-america-trump-and-democrats