Trump vs. Biden: The economic pros and cons

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Despite all the election alarmism, the sky will not fall no matter who wins. However, the candidates do have very different economic agendas, and the outcome of the election will shape the future of our economy.

Voters should know what they’re voting for. Below is a nonexhaustive list of the pros and cons of how each candidate’s platform would affect the economy.

Joe Biden: Cons

  • Tax hikes. Biden wants to hike the corporate tax rate back up to 28%. This would make the United States less competitive on the international stage. It would also hurt workers, who bear most of the burden of corporate taxation via fewer jobs and lower wages. Biden would reinstate the “individual mandate” tax, a regressive tax penalty that punished struggling families who couldn’t afford healthcare with thousands of dollars in additional taxes.
  • Anti-gig economy legislation. Biden supports enacting California’s anti-gig economy legislation on the national level. Done in the name of “labor rights,” this would undermine or entirely destroy the tens of millions of jobs nationwide that provide people with flexible earning opportunities such as driving for Uber or freelance journalism.
  • Massive spending increases. Biden supports a whopping $11 trillion in new federal spending over a decade. This will mean either higher taxes for all or, more likely, massive levels of debt that endanger our economic stability and burden future generations.
  • Path to socialist healthcare. Biden supports a “public option” in which the federal government competes with private health insurance providers. However, because the government can set the rules, subsidize itself, and force doctors to accept lower prices, this would eventually drive private insurers out of business and leave us with socialized healthcare for all.
  • $15 minimum wage. Biden wants to more than double the federal minimum wage at the exact time many businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. A recent study projected that this would kill 2 million jobs by 2027.
  • More crushing regulations. From technology to healthcare to the environment, a Biden administration would enact countless new regulations and mountains of new red tape. A recent study found that Biden’s tax and regulatory agenda combined would lead to 4.9 million fewer jobs, a $2.6 trillion fall in national output, and a $6,500 decrease in median household income.

Biden: Pros

  • Immigration. Biden does not share Trump’s opposition to legal immigration. He would be more likely to reinstate high-skill immigration programs such as H-1B visas that are great for the economy yet have been undermined by the Trump administration.

Trump: Pros

  • Tax cuts. Trump signed tax cuts and tax reform into law during his first term that helped juice the economy. If reelected, he would likely seek further tax relief, including a payroll tax cut, which would increase job growth and let workers take home more of their pay.
  • More deregulation. The Trump administration has cut miles of red tape during its first term, and that is part of what boosted the economy to such strength prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a few exceptions, we can expect more of the same in a Trump second term.
  • Return to strong pre-COVID-19 economy. Before the pandemic sent the world into a tailspin, we had strong growth rates, incredibly low unemployment, and rising wages and household net worth. This was, in part, due to the Trump administration’s economic policy.
  • What he won’t do. Arguably, the best part of Trump’s economic platform is all the things he won’t do. He is against socialized medicine, tax hikes, and job-killing regulations.
  • Less federal spending and debt. Both federal spending and the national debt are projected to grow under Trump if reelected but at a markedly slower rate than if Biden wins.

Trump: Cons

  • More harmful tariffs. The president’s tariffs have harmed the economy and failed to protect jobs. We can reasonably expect Trump to continue with misguided protectionist policies if he is reelected.
  • More immigration restrictions. Economists largely agree that legal immigration is good for the economy. Trump is a restrictionist at heart and will likely take more steps to curtail legal immigration if reelected. This will slow economic growth.

According to Pew Research, 79% of registered voters say that the economy is a top priority for them. So, they should keep in mind the pros and cons of Trump’s and Biden’s economic agendas when they head to the ballot box on Tuesday.

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is opinion editor at the Foundation for Economic Education and host of the Breaking Boundaries podcast. The opinions expressed here are his own.

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