Candidate Policies Synopsis


Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images/CNBC News

The presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020: Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, right, and President Donald Trump, left

Candidate Policies – COVID-19

Donald Trump

To manage the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump has instituted travel restrictions including bans and screening, signed and approved the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program to provide financial support to individuals and businesses impacted financially by the coronavirus, founded the coronavirus task force, donated funds to Operation Warp Speed for the development of a vaccine, and withdrawn from the WHO.  His promises for the future include:

  • Developing and distributing a vaccine in 2020.  He has stated that there is a vaccine that will be finished “within weeks” despite evidence to the contrary and the doubt of professionals in the field.  He plans to use the military to distribute the vaccine but has not elaborated on the mechanics of this technique.  
  • Creating mass amounts of health supplies.  These would include masks, gloves, ventilators, and face shields among other types of medical and preventative equipment.  This is discussed in detail on the official white house website.
  • Prepare for future pandemics by replenishing stores of food and equipment.  Trump has repeatedly discussed such stockpiles in briefings.  


Joe Biden

Biden is opposed to many of the actions and policies instituted by Trump and a large portion of his coronavirus-related campaign promises concerns repealing them. On his official website, he promises to:

  • Make testing free for all Americans and open more testing centers, specifically drive-through centers.  
  • Hire over 100,000 contact tracers.  
  • Work with city and state governments to increase the wearing of masks in public.
  • Re-establish the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense which was eliminated by Donald Trump
  • Rejoin the WHO (World Health Organization).


Candidate Policies – Trade

Donald Trump

Trump has, through the years, been portrayed as a protectionist. His immediate cancellation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership upon assuming the presidency as well as his support for the border adjustment tax proposed by the Republican leadership in Congress seems to confirm this portrayal of his foreign economic policy leanings. In his first year in office, President Trump took action to protect America’s critical steel and aluminum industries which were harmed by unfair trade practices and global excess capacity. According to what we know, Trump plans to use large trade deficits to pressure trading partners to further open up their markets. The Trump administration will also further the liberalization of cross-border economic activities. Furthermore, “The renegotiation agenda” contains not only defensive but also offensive goals in line with demands espoused in other trade negotiations. Among them are:

  • “Expand competitive market opportunities for United States financial service suppliers.”
  • “Ensure that the NAFTA countries refrain from imposing measures (…) that restrict cross-border data flows or that require the use or installation of local computing facilities.”
  • “Secure commitments not to impose customs duties on digital products.”
  • “Establish rules to prevent governments from mandating the disclosure of computer source code.”
  • “Promote adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights”
  • “Provide adequate opportunities for stakeholder comment on measures before they are adopted and finalized”


Joe Biden

Biden’s official campaign website says, “The goal of every decision about trade must be to build the American middle class, create jobs, raise wages, and strengthen communities.” To stand up for American workers, Biden’s tax and trade strategy will take multiple steps, including: 

  • Taking trade enforcement actions against any country seeking to undercut American manufacturing through unfair practices. 
  • Rallying our allies in a coordinated effort to pressure trade abusers to follow the rules and hold them to account when they do not. 
  • Confronting foreign efforts to steal American intellectual property 
  • Applying a carbon adjustment fee against countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations. 
  • Supporting strong and independent trade unions here in the United States and every one of our trading partners.

Candidate Policies – Education

Donald Trump

The Trump campaign website does not include a section on policy proposals on education for a second term, however his actions this past year have made his focus clear. Beyond the immediate concerns of the pandemic, privatization has been at the heart of education policy for Trump. From comments he has made in debates and briefings, we know that three of his goals are to:

  • Ensure that schools have the funding and incentives they need to safely reopen this fall and to empower families with school choice. He has stated, “It is vital that parents be  allowed to weigh both the benefits and risks of sending their child back to school, including the level of community spread and the makeup of their household.”
  • Expand education freedom by creating education freedom scholarships. Trump hopes to achieve this as well as helping 1 million more students find the best educational fit for them. His education platform also proposes “making critical new investments in supporting children with disabilities, moving closer to fulfilling Congress.”
  •  Reduce the role the federal government plays in education.


Joe Biden

According to former vice president Biden’s official campaign website, he has four main plans and goals in mind for improving education for the country:

  • Safely Reopen Schools. To achieve this goal, Biden plans to begin by getting the virus under control, a separate plan of his. After this task is completed, he will aim to set national safety guidelines and empower local decision making. Understanding what help they may need, he will provide emergency funding for public schools and child care providers. To continue his goal in terms of safely reopening schools, Biden promises to ensure high-quality learning and to close the COVID-19 educational equity gap.
  • Support Students and Young Americans, as well as Students beyond High School. He firstly plans to ensure that the United States achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050. He also wants to make sure education and training beyond high school is a reliable pathway to the middle class, and end gun violence. In terms of students beyond High School, Biden, in short, hopes to invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class, strengthen college as the reliable pathway to the middle class, not an investment that provides limited returns and leaves graduates with mountains of debt they can’t afford, and support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • Strengthen the Caregiving and Education Workforce. Biden has a plan to first expand access to a broad array of long-term services and supports in local settings. He also aims to ensure access to high-quality, affordable child care and offers universal preschool to three and four-year-olds, builds safe, energy-efficient, developmentally appropriate child care facilities, and treats caregivers and early childhood educators with the respect and dignity they deserve.
  • Support Educators and students alike.


Candidate Policies – Women’s Rights, LGBTQ+, and BLM 


Donald Trump

Taking information from, a website that compiled what we know from Trump’s past claims, this is where he stands on issues regarding equality in America:


  • Believes that adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse to LGBTQ+ families.  He has not spoken extensively on the topic but has made his opinion clear.
  • Believes the government should be able to allow businesses to deny service to LGBTQ+ customers using religious freedom laws.
  • Believes the government should not accept or allow transgender people to serve in the military. He has been quoted saying, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……transgender individuals.” and “….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” 
  • Priorities are to maintain low unemployment rates for Black Americans, as seen before the pandemic, and to strengthen minority-owned businesses. He has yet to outline a broad policy plan to address racial inequity. He says that his policies have helped Black Americans in particular. Trump recently mentioned a four-step policy geared toward building “safety, opportunity, and dignity.” He emphasized the need for increased federal support toward minority-owned small businesses and addressed “health care disparities.” He also is saying more funding should go toward medical facilities that serve largely nonwhite populations. 
  • Has shown support over the years for women and women’s rights. As we fight to deliver a better future for all women and for all Americans, we remember the wonderful victory one century ago,” Trump remarked before signing a proclamation commemorating a century of women voting rights. He has also said in the past “In other words, women dominate the United States.”

Joe Biden

Again citing information from Biden’s official campaign website, here is where he stands on the issues presented.

  • Against giving adoption agencies the right to refuse LGBTQ+ Couples.  On his official website, it says, “Along with the freedom to marry comes the freedom to build a family. Biden believes that LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples should be able to build and protect their families…… As President, Biden will repeal the rule, if implemented, and work to ensure that qualified families are not discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex, marital status, disability, or religion and that child welfare agencies put the interests of children first, including those who are LGBTQ+.”
  • Supports Federal and State Governments should allow nonbinary and transgender people to choose the gender that matches their identity (Including a Third Gender Option) for government documents.  Again sourcing from his official website, it is confirmed that, “as President, Biden will build on this action to ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. Biden believes every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to, ’M’  ‘F,’ or ‘X’ on government identifications, passports, and other documentation. He will support state and federal efforts to allow for this accurate representation.” 
  • Believes LGBTQ+ should have protection from being fired because of how they identify themselves. To quote Nico Lang and Kate Sosin in a piece they wrote for the Daily Beast, “Vice President Biden’s full support for LGBTQ employment protections, and more broadly, LGBTQ equality has been clear over the years through his vocal support of the Equality Act, early support for marriage equality, hate crimes legislation, the right for our transgender brothers and sisters to serve openly in the military, and more.”
  • Does not believe that businesses should have the right to deny service to customers under the religious freedom laws. “Biden will reverse Trump’s policies misusing these broad exemptions and fight so that no one is turned away from a business or refused service by a government official just because of who they are or who they love.” 
  • Supports allowing transgender people to serve in the military. He has said, “The fact of the matter is that we’re in a position where transgender men and women are in a position where they should be able to do anything anybody else in the world can do. There should be no difference.”
  • Priorities are to support minority-owned small businesses, increase homeownership among minority communities and combat housing discrimination, and improve access to affordable higher education and reduce student loan debt for minority students. He pledges to support minority-owned businesses by allocating billions specifically toward a Small Business Opportunity Fund, which would also leverage private investments. He also plans to invest $50 billion in venture capital specifically for Black and brown entrepreneurs, put $100 billion toward low-interest loans, and provide educational and development opportunities for new entrepreneurs and students. Overall, he says, these investments through the fund will bring forward a gain of $150 billion. Biden also advocates boosting ownership within minority communities. To achieve this goal, he wants to create 1.5 million new homes and provide up to $15,000 in tax credits for people buying their first homes. He calls for an end to discriminatory housing policies as well as this. When it comes to education reform, Biden aims to expand student loan forgiveness and to make public universities, private historically Black colleges, and universities, and minority-serving institutions tuition-free for students with household incomes under $125,000. 
  • Goals are to improve economic security for women, expand access to healthcare and tackle health inequities, and end violence against women.  According to Biden’s official webpage, “Biden will start by fighting for equal pay, investing in women-owned small businesses, expanding access to education and training, and strengthening pay and benefits in careers disproportionately filled by women…… Biden will expand access to high-quality, affordable health care for all women….. He will expand access to affordable child care and care for older Americans and people with disabilities and provide paid leave and other important workplace benefits and protections…Biden will work to end violence against women, continuing his leadership on this issue since he authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.”

Candidate Policies – Climate Change 

Donald Trump

  • Holds varying opinions on climate change. According to BBC News, In his early years as POTUS, Trump frequently called the concept of climate change a hoax, overexaggerated by the “perennial prophets of doom.” Later on, he no longer considered it a hoax but did not believe it was caused by human pollution. In 2020 and during his campaign, he describes himself as an environmentalist, wanting the cleanest air and water. Despite these claims, in 2017, he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump has also replaced President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the less effective Affordable Clean Energy rule and has remained a consistent advocate for keeping fossil fuels, oil, and coal energy. However, in early 2020, he had the US join the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees Initiative. In his campaign so far, he has no certain plan on climate change for the future, if re-elected. 
  • Supports Fracking. 


Joe Biden

  • Is adamant and committed to ending climate change. Former Vice President Joe Biden said in the last presidential debate that climate change poses “an existential threat to humanity…we have a moral obligation to deal with it.” A BBC article explains that if elected as President, Biden plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement. He also plans to transition from fossil fuels, oil, coal, and fracking to cleaner energy, such as solar and wind. He wants to stop fossil fuels from polluting neighborhoods and the environment, and “create millions of new good-paying jobs,” estimating these changes to cost 2 trillion dollars over four years. 
  • Voices varying opinions on fracking.  According to Joe Biden’s official campaign website, he does not entirely oppose fracking but supports making the transition to sustainable energy.  For climate change, his plan proposes the intention of running the country on carbon-neutral energy by 2035 and to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Candidate Policies – Immigration 

Donald Trump

  • Is opposed to illegal immigration and favors the use of physical barriers to prevent it.  In early 2018, Trump started construction on the border wall between the U.S.A. and Mexico. This “wall” or fence is meant to prevent illegal crossings into the U.S. and even illegal drug activity, though the truth of the latter is disputed. According to the official Trump Wall Construction website, as of now, about one-third of the wall has been constructed, stretching from San Diego, California to El Paso, Texas. Though some of the previous pedestrian walls are still up, Trump plans to replace these with a new, higher wall, however, not all of these walls will be connected. Natural barriers such as mountains and rivers along the border as well as security cameras and sensors will cover the remaining areas. 
  • According to the New York Times, Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy in 2018 resulted in the separation of 2,737 children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Though many of the families have since been reunited, about 500 children are still unable to find their parents. An NPR article explains that Trump also plans to limit the number of sanctuary cities and make it more difficult for people to successfully obtain asylum. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump also limited the number of visas distributed. Though no details are known on this, he also plans to remove non-citizen criminals from the country to end human trafficking, one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world.


Joe Biden

  • Will prioritize undoing many of Trump’s policies.  According to NPR, the majority of Biden’s immigration plan is focused on reversing policies put in place by Donald Trump, including the border wall, separation of immigrant families at the border, and the ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries entering the country.  
  • While President Trump has put more restrictions on immigration and resources for immigrants, Biden plans to loosen these restrictions if elected. He will stop the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and allow more people to be granted asylum and enter the country each year. He wishes for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Customs and Border Protection agencies, to be held at a higher standard for their work ethics, preventing the mistreatment and abuse of immigrants. 
  • Will create a more convenient path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  Aside from helping more people enter the U.S., Biden also plans to provide more resources to the immigrants already living in the country. He wants to offer a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million “undocumented people” living in the U.S., many of which have lived and worked here for much of their lives.


Candidate Policies – Healthcare

Donald Trump

  • According to U.S. News, President Trump recently stated that healthcare plans must disclose their costs up-front to their clients.
  • In the past, Trump has stated that he wishes to lower the price of prescription drugs, expand access to affordable coverage, deliver hospital transparency, and hire trusted doctors.


Joe Biden

  • His official campaign website states that “Joe Biden believes that every American – regardless of gender, race, income, sexual orientation, or zip code – should have access to affordable and quality health care.” He hopes to ensure healthcare is truly a right for all by, among other things, reducing our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, doubling America’s investment in community health centers, and reverse the Trump Administration and states’ all-out assault on women’s right to abortion.
  • To once again cite Biden’s official website, he has a plan to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care less complex to navigate.
  • Going deeper into this plan, Biden hopes to give every American access to affordable health insurance. He plans to achieve this by making sure that “no family… regardless of income, will have to spend more than 8.5 % of their income on health insurance.”
  • Biden also thinks it necessary to provide the American people with peace of mind when looking for affordable, quality healthcare and a less complex health care system. Regarding this goal, he wants to make sure that the healthcare system will no longer be controlled by a few corporations who are driving up prices due to a lack of competition
  • Biden also hopes to improve American health care by standing up to the abuse of power by prescription drug corporations. In summary, he hopes to put a stop to runaway drug prices by making sure that newer specialty drugs will no longer be overpriced by the manufacturers who wish to take advantage of the people who rely on these medicines. Biden also wishes to allow consumers to purchase prescription drugs from other countries. 


Candidate Policies – Tax and Economy

Donald Trump

Trump has claimed that the American economy is the “Biggest and Best in the History of our Country, and not even close.”  While there have been some economic successes under Trump, there have also been disastrous periods, most notably due to COVID-19.  The third-quarter economic growth truthfully was the fastest recorded, however, just before this growth, there was a decline of a 31.4% annual rate, the deepest recorded decline by far.  Trump has said that his economic plans for the future include:

  • Creating 10 million jobs in ten months.
  • Cutting taxes to increase earnings and preserve jobs.
  • Instituting “Made in America” tax credits.
  • Allowing pharmaceutical and robotics companies to fully deduct expenses if they bring their manufacturing to the United States.
  • Refusing to provide companies that outsource to China federal contracts.
  • Creating 1 million small businesses.
  • Promoting “[bringing] back jobs from China” by creating tax credits for companies that do so.  


Joe Biden

According to his official website, Biden’s tax and economic plans include:

  • Repeal the TCJA components for high-income filers – Presidential Nominee Joe Biden plans to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The TCJA was passed on December 22, 2017, by President Donald Trump. This tax bill is meant to reduce large corporations’ taxes, thus leading to higher corporate income and job creation. This tax bill caused the opposite of its intended effect.  
  • Impose 12.4% Social Security payroll tax for wages above $400k.
  • Increase the corporate income tax to 28%.
  • Establish a corporate minimum tax on book income.
  • Double the tax rate on GILTI and impose it country-by-country.
  • Temporarily increase the generosity of the Child Tax Credit and Dependent Credit.

 Candidate Policies – Gun Control

Donald Trump

Trump has been a vocal supporter of the second amendment.  He opposed bill H.R.8, a bill which would have mandated background checks for firearm transfers between unlicensed people, opposed bill H.R.1112, which would have allocated more time to federal authorities for completing background checks, reversed a rule that permitted the Social Security Administration to give the gun background check system crucial information about severely mentally disabled people, and has supported training and arming teachers to combat school shootings.  He has promised in debates and briefings to:

  • Eliminate gun-free zones in schools and military bases.
  • Legalize concealed carrying in all 50 states.


Joe Biden

On his official campaign website, Biden details his plans for gun control.  These include:

  • Banning the manufacturing of assault weapons. 
  • Mandating background checks for all firearm sales.  This would include sales at gun shows and online.
  • Prohibiting states from using federal funds to arm teachers and educators.  This is in direct opposition to Trump’s plan to arm educators.  
  • Ending online ammunition and firearm sales.
  • Encouraging local governments to institute red flag laws and require gun licenses.  This would allow these local governments to confiscate, temporarily or otherwise, firearms from those deemed risks to themselves or others.  
  • Creating a process to quickly notify state and local law enforcement of people who fail background checks.  
  • Creating a $900 million, eight-year initiative for evidence-based interventions in the 20 cities with the largest number of homicides and the 20 cities with the largest number of homicides per capita.