Last night, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off on the stage to participate in the long-anticipated first presidential debate of the 2020 election season. Speaking and defending their actions and policies towards the COVID-19 outbreak, racial protests, climate change and mail-in voting, both Trump and Biden engaged in heated arguments. One main topic of discussion revolved around the economy, particularly the financial effects of the global pandemic.
The COVID-19 economy takes center stage
After opening the debate with Trump’s recent Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and his healthcare plan, moderator Chris Wallace quickly introduced the COVID-19 pandemic and its various impacts on the American people. Former Vice President Joe Biden dismissed Trump’s actions as the President, stating that the government should have provided adequate funding for businesses and reopening without restrictions would be reckless and unsafe. Trump responded that reopening the economy and businesses was an essential part of American spirit, bringing up Big Ten football and the nighttime culture of New York City. Trump also supported his argument by crediting scientists and doctors, emphasizing that there is no worry in reopening because we now have plenty of information surrounding the pandemic.
V or K?
Following the topic of COVID-19, Wallace posed a question specifically regarding the economic recovery in the United States: what is the difference between the V-shaped economy that Trump supports and the K-shaped economy that Biden supports?
Trump led the discussion by acknowledging his efforts in a “record-high” economy after initially closing it, essentially highlighting that America’s economy will bounce back to where it was pre-pandemic, demonstrated by the letter V. He brought up points that closing the economy had adverse effects on the American people, such as an increase in depression, alcoholism and divorce.
However, Biden argued that Trump’s perspective is not only incorrect but also unreasonable. Biden and most other Democrats assert that the United States is currently undergoing a K-shaped economy, where some aspects of the economy have recovered while others have suffered. Particularly, Biden noted that those the wealthy upper class have done well while many in the working class, such as front-line workers, have lost their jobs and died.
Biden also outlined his economic plans given that he serves as president, including more progressive taxes with an increase in corporate tax from 21% to 28%. Finally, Biden criticized Trump’s trade deals that have created the highest trade deficit with China and other foreign nations in over a decade.
Trump didn’t shy away from countering Biden’s claims. The President swiftly responded that he created millions of jobs even throughout the pandemic, which was something that former president Barack Obama and Biden were unable to accomplish. In fact, Trump declared that Obama’s economic plan was the slowest economic recovery since 1929. Specifically, Trump praised the flourishing car companies in Michigan and Ohio.
Of course, following the recent news, Trump’s federal tax returns were a major facet to the debate. Biden utilized Trump’s income tax avoidance to accentuate the need for accountability in the presidential position, also stating the difference between the Obama and Biden administration versus the Trump administration: Obama and Biden helped America overcome a recession while Trump placed America into a recession. However, Trump argued that he in fact paid millions of dollars in taxes during 2016 and 2017.
Setting the stage for what’s to come
Essentially, this presidential debate set the stage for the future economy of America. Viewers heard more about Biden’s proposals and Trump’s actions in office. Both candidates defended themselves while condemning each other, all in an effort to display their strengths to the American people. While the economy and American society are at a truly unknown state, it is evident that both Biden and Trump are utilizing the debate stage to make their perspectives known.