The issues in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election have shifted from a focus on trade and middle class growth to how the country will navigate the economic downturn created by the global COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. markets went from record highs in February 2020, to a steep bear market by mid-March. Social distancing measures and the temporary closures of businesses large and small around the country have caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and file for unemployment.
With the U.S, and the global economy in a steep recession, Congress and the Federal Reserve have enacted trillions of dollars worth of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to jumpstart a recovery once the health crisis abates.
As the race for The White House comes down to President Trump versus former Vice-President Joe Biden, all economic issues will be framed, in part, by the coronavirus epidemic and the policy response to it. The focus will be on supporting the unemployed, getting small businesses back up and running, debt forgiveness, health care reforms and taxes.
Student loan debt is one of the most critical issues facing U.S. voters and their kids. Around 45 million people are carrying a total of $1.49 trillion in student loan debt. Student borrowers are graduating college with a whopping $37,000 in debt, on average, which presents a major obstacle to starting their post-graduate life on sound financial footing. Senators Warren and Sanders have both presented ambitious plans for reducing or wiping out student loan debt entirely, as have several other candidates. We can expect to hear a lot more on this topic through the campaign.
Total American student debt
This is already one of the most hotly debated topics in American politics and around the world. Since the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, Democratic candidates have been releasing their own climate-change policy proposals that are purported to slow climate change while adding jobs. The most well known of those is the Green New Deal, which we're bound to hear about through the campaign.
The U.S.-China trade war has dominated headlines since President Trump took office. In his first two years as president, the Trump Administration has pulled out of several trade deals, introduced a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and levied hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese companies. Expect the Democratic candidates for the Oval Office to propose and defend their own trade policies throughout the debates and the campaign.
The healthcare debate is one of the most critical for Americans who are unsure of the future of the Affordable Care Act or what might replace it. U.S. healthcare spending totaled $3.5 trillion in 2017, or more than $10,000 per person.
The average yearly cost of healthcare per person in 2017
With the U.S. stock market near record highs while income inequality continues to widen, expect to hear a lot of scrutiny of the investing and finance industries. Several Democratic candidates have been calling for higher taxes on investment gains and a reining-in of CEO pay, which has ballooned in recent years. Plan to hear a lot more about this topic throughout the debates and the campaign.
There are few issues that get voters' attention more than taxes. President Trump passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in his first year in office, which lowered tax rates for corporations and middle-class Americans, but his opponents argued that it benefited the wealthiest taxpayers and companies far more. Democratic candidates will likely pounce on this topic and propose their own plans to cut taxes for lower-earning Americans.
Get ready for Econ 101 all over again. The debate over whether capitalism is actually better for Americans than socialism (or other forms of government) is already ablaze, as some 2020 candidates have suggested several highly progressive agendas as their platforms. Issues like our ballooning debt and subsequent deficit will loom large over these debates, so expect a lot of questions about the role of the Federal Reserve and monetary policy.
Technology giants such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google are in the hot seat as politicians on both sides of the aisle call for their break up and demand they pay higher taxes or stop monetizing user data.