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U.S. Election 2020: What the Candidates Have Said About Key Issues

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With less than a few days to go before the 2020 United States presidential election, let’s take a look at what the four main candidates have said about a range of important issues.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, Students For Liberty represents a range of ideas and does not endorse any candidates. However, this year’s presidential election serves as an important opportunity for discussion. To this end, we will look at the positions of Joe Biden, Howie Hawkins, Jo Jorgensen, and Donald Trump on these issues.

Education

  • Joe Biden (D)

Joe Biden has advocated making public colleges tuition-free for all students with a family income below $125,000. In March, he suggested that, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, each student should have $10,000 of federal student loan debt cancelled. His plans for education involve a focus on investing in underfunded schools as a means to tackle disparities in educational outcome. He has also called for universal preschool. His campaign stated, “Everyone deserves the right to a good higher education if they choose to pursue it, no matter their income.”

  • Howie Hawkins (G)

Like Biden, Howie Hawkins seeks to increase funding for education. He believes that the federal government should fund a four-year college education for all students. The Green Party would prefer an emphasis on improving public schools and increasing teacher wages instead of supporting charter schools. In his proposed Economic Bill of Rights, he asserts that, “All citizens shall have the rights to a public education of equal high quality.”

  • Jo Jorgensen (L)

Jo Jorgensen has expressed strong support for charter schools, among other alternative solutions to the crisis in public education. On the issue of higher education, she holds the federal government responsible for the student loan debt crisis. She accuses them of colluding with leading universities who increase tuition fees at a rate several times higher than inflation, leaving students to pay unjustified amounts through federal student loans. She has stated, “The federal government needs to get out of the student loan business entirely, and stop enabling the debt-enslavement of young people.”

  • Donald Trump (R)

Donald Trump has spoken of his concern over rising tuition fees and has called for greater transparency from higher education institutions regarding the potential future earnings of their alumni and loan repayment rates. He has called into question the effectiveness of certain university programs in preparing students for the modern job market. He has expressed his support for school choice and charter schools, stating that, “every American family should have the right to choose the learning environment that works best for their child.”

The War on Drugs

  • Joe Biden (D)

Joe Biden has stated that he does not consider drug use to be a crime, but rather an illness. Instead of an approach based on punishing users, he has called for resources to be divested towards treatment. Not favoring widespread legalization, Biden has expressed concern of the flow of drugs into the country, particularly heroin and fentanyl. Nevertheless, he has called for a reform of the criminal justice system that would involve decriminalization. Biden has asserted, “No one should be going to jail for drug crime, period.”

  • Howie Hawkins (G)

Howie Hawkins has called for marijuana to be legalized for all adult use. For other drugs, he has suggested a complete decriminalization for personal use, similar to the system introduced in Portugal in 2001. He believes that a public health approach would be best suited to tackling the issues surrounding drug abuse. On his campaign website, Hawkins has stated, “It is time to end the war on drugs and repair the damage done to communities by the drug war.”

  • Jo Jorgensen (L)

Jo Jorgensen has argued that, rather than a drug problem, America has a prohibition problem. She believes that the war on drugs has created many other problems and laments the impact that prohibitionist policies have had on incarceration rates, particularly among people of color. She has pledged to decriminalize all drugs on a federal level. She asserted that, “if there is no victim, there is no crime. I will pardon anyone convicted at the federal level of victimless crimes.”

  • Donald Trump (R)

Donald Trump has stated that he views marijuana legalization as an issue for states to decide on. Despite supporting some law enforcement programs aimed at helping individuals struggling with addictions, he is nevertheless committed to sustaining efforts to tackle drug cartels and the supply of opioids. To this end, Trump stated, “The cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army.”

Immigration Reform

  • Joe Biden (D)

If elected, Joe Biden has said that he will create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has emphasized the importance of remembering that the United States is a nation of immigrants. He said, “Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future.”

  • Howie Hawkins (G)

Hawkins is opposed to the militarization of borders. He has called for border walls to be dismantled and diversity to be embraced. He has called for facilitating access to work visas and is strongly in favor of making it easier for individuals fleeing persecution to seek refuge in the United States. He has argued, “All seeking asylum should be given permanent resident status.”

  • Jo Jorgensen (L)

Jorgensen has described immigration as a positive for the United States, pointing to data showing high rates of integration and job creation. She is strongly opposed to border walls and barriers to immigration in general. She also believes in providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She has stated, “If people want to immigrate to the United States and contribute to our country, they should be able to.”

  • Donald Trump (R)

President Trump has been a prominent critic of immigration. His previous election campaign placed great emphasis on the importance of border infrastructure, as he believes that restricting the entry of low-skilled workers protects the interests of Americans. He has stated, “No one can compete with American workers when they’re given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades.”

Economics

  • Joe Biden (D)

Throughout his election campaign, Biden has often mentioned his support for American industry and reducing reliance on other countries. He has proposed increased investment in infrastructure, more affordable housing, and a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour. He has also advocated further funding for healthcare and education, while proposing raising taxes on those earning more than $400,000. Biden has stated, “Building back better means an updated social contract that treats American workers and working families as essential at all times.”

  • Howie Hawkins (G)

Howie Hawkins has argued for the necessity of a living wage to ensure income above poverty levels. He believes that it is the responsibility of the federal government to fulfill rights to affordable housing, comprehensive healthcare, lifelong free public education, and a secure retirement. He has asserted, “The Economic Bill of Rights is integral to our Ecosocialist Green New Deal.”

  • Jo Jorgensen (L)

Jo Jorgensen believes that the federal government interferes excessively in economic matters. She has argued that the main barriers to job creation stem from government regulation. Her priority policies include lowering both taxes and government spending. She advocates for widespread deregulation, including abolishing licensing and zoning requirements. She expects this to result in more employment opportunities and greater availability of affordable housing. Jorgensen has stated, “America is losing ground to countries where entrepreneurs are freer to operate.”

  • Donald Trump (R)

Trump has pledged to provide increased funding for strengthening America’s borders. He is an ardent proponent of tariffs that he believes will help further the interests of American industries. He has also made tax cuts intended to benefit companies and middle-class families. Unlike Biden, he has advocated reducing capital gains tax rates to 15%. He has stated, “One of the major forces driving the decline in wages and the concentration of wealth at the top is the offshoring of American jobs overseas.”

The COVID-19 pandemic

  • Joe Biden (D)

Joe Biden has said that, so far, not enough has been done to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes that a more centralized response is required, and that the United States should re-engage with the World Health Organization. His seven point plan includes, among others, the need for an improved testing and tracing system, consistent public health guidance, and a plan for the equitable distribution of any eventual vaccine if he wins the election. He stated, “As we enter the height of the political season, politics should play no role in determining the safety and efficacy of any vaccine.”

  • Howie Hawkins (G)

Howie Hawkins has argued that other countries have been much more successful in implementing programs to suppress community spread of the virus and allow businesses and schools to reopen safely. Arguing for more funding for testing facilities, he believes that private enterprise cannot offer any solution. He advocates a significant increase in spending and has criticized the other parties for not committing to doing so. He has argued, “We need a relief plan that puts people first.”

  • Jo Jorgensen (L)

According to Jorgensen, the pandemic has been exacerbated by federal government bureaucracy standing in the way of those looking to provide solutions. Staunchly opposed to lockdowns, she believes that it is extremely important that the government steps aside to allow businesses to reopen in order to avoid long-term economic disaster. Deeming the government’s response to be inept, she argued, “Government failures may have created this situation, but as seen throughout history, it is the people who will find the solutions.”

  • Donald Trump (R)

Donald Trump has voiced his opposition to lockdowns as a means to tackle the pandemic, highlighting the negative societal impact they create. He has also expressed skepticism over some of the official statistics and health recommendations. He places a strong emphasis on keeping the economy open. He has claimed that, if he wins the election, “We will vanquish the virus, we will overcome this pandemic, and we will emerge better, stronger, and more unified than ever before.”

Who will win the US Presidential Election?

This year’s presidential election is undeniably monumental for a multitude of reasons. At the time of writing, Joe Biden is predicted to win the election according to the latest poll estimates. 

However, there is a large degree of uncertainty as to what will actually happen on Election Day, as the challenges brought on by the current coronavirus pandemic will most likely impact voter turnout. 

Who do you think will win the election? Tweet your prediction to @sfliberty using the hashtag #Election2020.



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