In part two of a three-part series, the editorial staff of Across The Margin examines exactly what is at stake in the pivotal 2020 United States Presidential Election…
Read What’s At Stake, Part 1 here!
Undoubtedly, the United States 2020 presidential election has risen to become the most important election in modern American history. It is not hyperbole to make this declaration, especially in contemplation of the current state of the country, or upon reflection of the Trump Administration’s three and a half years of blunders, lies, incompetence, and deep-seated corruption. It goes without saying that the current political, societal, and economic climate in the United States finds the country as divided as ever and what is at stake, for the country, and for the entire planet, is enormous. In consideration of these divisions, and the fallout from their occurrence, it seems only apropos to take a closer look at several of the key issues in play.
When it comes to the positions of both presidential candidates in regards to healthcare, we are far from impressed. Healthcare is one of the most important services that a government could provide for its people, and the United States is the only industrialized nation without universal health insurance, lagging far behind other developed countries. It boggles the mind that a country with a 721.5 billion dollar defense budget for 2020, won’t trim that fat and provide healthcare services to its people. But so it goes, and that fact alone is telling of the government’s priorities.
What is even more remarkable to consider is that the United States currently spends more on healthcare per person than any other wealthy country. This notion would be somewhat acceptable if its citizens received high-quality healthcare for that money spent. However, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) 2020 Health Statistics, “Despite significantly higher healthcare spending, America’s health outcomes are not any better than those in other developed countries. The United States actually performs worse in some common health metrics like life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes.” The healthcare situation in America is grim, with the potential for it to worsen due to an upcoming ruling by the newly-minted conservative Supreme Court concerning the Affordable Care Act in early November. The ongoing pandemic has served to only highlight the need for a complete overhaul of the U.S. Healthcare system, with a focus on laws passed and protections put in place to ensure that each and every citizen has access to quality services, regardless of the whims of the political party in power.
While both candidates assuredly are not stepping up to the moment, or seem to understand the fact that healthcare should be looked at as an indelible human right, there is a mammoth difference between the healthcare plans put forth by President Trump and Joe Biden. Particularly because one of the candidates doesn’t even have a plan.
Despite years of promising a replacement for the Affordable Care Act — from his early campaigning in 2016 through his almost four years as president — Trump has failed to offer any credible healthcare plan to the America public. This is substantiated by the fact that his campaign website, unlike almost every campaign over the last two decades, does not feature a listing of healthcare priorities. The only authentic aim of Trump’s healthcare position, it seems, is to completely erode 2010’s landmark Affordable Care Act, which his administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn, causing among other things, tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance in the middle of a surging global pandemic.
Beyond this, the president has also consistently backed major reductions to federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, where his administration has proposed billions of dollars in cuts and enacted robust restrictions on who can receive coverage, implying that the current costs to taxpayers are unacceptable. All and all, not only does President Trump not have a healthcare plan despite all his perpetual bluster that one is “two weeks away,” he is dead set on taking millions of people’s access to healthcare away.
Conversely, Biden, according to the “Protect and Build” plan laid out on his website, favors a brand of incremental measures to shore up President Obama’s historic Affordable Care Act. Biden, if elected, hopes to increase subsidies to help Americans buy plans on insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. He also has indicated he would roll back Trump administration policies that loosened rules on health insurers and allowed some to offer limited insurance policies that cap benefits and exclude coverage for some diseases and preexisting conditions. He has also proposed a long list of actions to control prescription drug prices, including empowering Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. This facet of Biden’s healthcare plan has been a long time priority for Democrats, and many experts believe this would be a significant cost-saving measure for the federal government. All of this is a dramatic improvement on a president who has promised for years to come up with a viable healthcare plan, one that protects people with pre-existing conditions, but has failed to do so. If he truly wanted to lower the price of prescription drugs, as he suggests time and again, wouldn’t that haven been taken care of by now? If President Trump has a solution, or even some semblance of a loosely-formed idea, wouldn’t he have brought it forward? It’s a sad state of affairs when a president, with a Republican majority in the House and Senate for two years, had the time and power to address these concerns, yet instead squandered that goodwill and potential for lasting reform with nothing to show for it in the end.
Race / A Divided America
In America, we behold the unnerving truth time and again, that all men (and women) are not created equal, that they are not endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. As a country, we have a great deal of work to do to confront our troubled past, and move forward to a land of opportunity for all. And in the three and a half years that President Trump has held office, this difficult, generational undertaking has been set back by his decisive rhetoric, and often his overt racism. In his tenure as president, Trump, the self-proclaimed “least racist person,” has targeted Muslims, Haitians, Africans, Mexicans, Syrian refugees, congresswomen of color, Black Lives Matter protesters, Black athletes protesting racial inequality and, of course, his favorite of target of all – former president Barack Obama. Racism is not new to Donald Trump, as he in fact has a long and storied past riddled with racists remarks and actions. This fact alone, that he is most assuredly a racist, should disqualify Trump to hold an office as lofty and prestigious as President of the United States, and is all the more reason to vote him out of the White House next week.
In stark contrast to President Trump, and without appropriate contemplation of Joe Biden’s complicated and often problematic past, the former vice president has made it clear that he wants nothing more than to heal the racial divisions in America. Biden understands that Trump is exacerbating the equality problem profoundly, proclaiming that Trump “has fanned the flames of hate in this country,” and he yearns to begin to turn the tide away from division. If Biden’s rhetoric is to be believed, he plans to do just that. He has vowed to abolish the Muslim travel ban on Day One if elected president. He has put forward a proposal detailing the way in which to advance racial equity in the United States, one which exhibits an earnest desire to confront a profound problem which rotting the very core of America.
Biden, it must be noted, is unique in that not only did he serve as vice president to the first Black president in the history of the United States (twice!), but he has also chosen as his running mate the first woman of color on a national ticket in Senator Kamala Harris. While it was clear that Obama’s choice of Biden on his ticket was more an effort to reassure white people about his presidency than anything else, Biden’s choosing of Harris displays a commitment to diversity that is encouraging.
Yet, beyond President Trump’s overt racism, and Biden’s vows to work towards dismantling systemic racism in America, it will forever be a stain of the fabric of America that when Trump first took his place in the Oval Office, he made it clear that he was only there to represent those who fully support him. President Trump openly favors red states over blue, and sets a tone for the country as one that isn’t simply divided ideologically on a number of issues, but paints the picture of a land composed of two opposing forces, one that loves America, and another that seeks to destroy the country from within. While this narrative is undeniably unrepresentative of the current reality in the U.S., Trump’s highly divisive discourse and inability to call out overt acts of racism does indeed sow dissension. It should not be too much to ask that whoever is elected to the role of president in America, that that person serves as a president for all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, color or creed. Joe Biden, who during the 2020 Democratic National Convention said it was a president’s job “to represent all of us, not just our base or our party,” and reaffirmed this belief in the final presidential debate, is the clear choice to heal a nation more divided and less equal than it was four years ago.
At this point in time, it is impossible to examine the state of the economy in the United States without talking about the Coronavirus pandemic. As undeniably inadequate the actions of the Trump administration to contain the outbreak are, one that continues to surge and wreak havoc across the land, their current efforts are exacerbating an already dire situation. But the truth of the matter is also this, before Covid-19 stole hundreds of thousands of lives and crippled businesses across the nation, President Trump’s economic policies dramatically increased the wealth gap in American, favored corporations and the ultra rich over working families, and were making the country far less equipped to deal with emergencies such as the one we find ourselves entangled in now. According to The New York Times, “Trump’s economic policy geared almost completely toward lifting growth in the short term, while largely ignoring long-term dangers. He increased the deficit, mostly to give wealthy households big tax cuts. He scrapped environment regulations, which increases the likelihood of costly climate destruction. And he hollowed out parts of the government, including its ability to respond to a pandemic.”
Trump’s economic policies and his actions as president are aimed at helping those in his tax bracket, as well as multi-million dollar corporations. The tax bill he pushed through granted billions of dollars to his rich supporters (and cabinet members). According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, more than 60% of the tax savings went to people in the top 20% of the income ladder while slashing the corporate tax rate by 40%. And while Trump continually points to markers such as the Dow or Stock Market to measure success now and throughout his presidency, these statistical analyses are authentically meaninglessly as indicators of economic well-being for the majority of Americans (90% of households hold just 12% of corporate equities). In Trump’s America, pre-pandemic and currently, the rich continue to get richer while the rest of Americans struggle to provide for themselves and their families.
Joe Biden’s economic plan appears sound, and aimed at spreading the extreme wealth that exists in this country to more of those who are in need. According to his website, his aim is to use all available authorities, including the Defense Production Act to turn the tide on this epidemic, launch a task force reporting directly to him make sure every dollar going out the door gets to the people who need it, and bring the leaders of Congress together to build the next deal. While many of Biden’s proposals may strike one as aggressive, this is what the time calls for. While the U.S. Senate, at the bidding of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fails to act as countless Americans labor to make ends meet, Joe Biden appears ready and able to act, and we believe he should be given the opportunity as president to do so.
It is true, the American economy was, according to a slew of metrics, strong before the pandemic began. The core reasoning behind this is the Trump Administration inheriting a thriving and growing economy from President Barack Obama (and Vice President Joe Biden), one Trump continued to grow for a few years before that growth halted again in 2019. Trump’s mismanagement of that gift of a booming economy, and triumphantly in his failings with the pandemic, are clear signs that he is ill-equipped to lead us into the future. The question each and every American should be asking right now is: Who do you trust more right now to lead us out of this pandemic into a brighter future for each and every American? We are positive the answer to that question is not President Trump, and believe a Biden Administration has earned the right to take a crack at righting the ship.
What’s At Stake, Part Three — Coming Soon….