At their political conventions this month, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden laid out starkly divergent visions of how to dig the U.S. economy out of the deepest downturn since the Great Depression amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump promised more cuts to taxes and regulations, and dangled the prospect of additional tariffs against China.
“We will go right after China,” Trump said. “We will not rely on them one bit. We’re taking our business out of China. We are bringing it home. We want our business to come home.”
He added, “We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before.”
Biden vowed to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and use the money to spend trillions to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and shift to a clean-energy future, make housing and child care more affordable and improve education, among other proposals. “My economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect, and community,” Biden said. “Together, we can, and we will rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only build it back, we’ll build it back better.”
Some top economists say Biden’s plan is better-suited to recovering the remaining 13 million jobs lost in the pandemic-induced recession. More than 9.3 million of the 22 million jobs shed have been recouped as shuttered businesses reopened and rehired workers.
“The goal of the next president will be to get back to full employment as fast as possible,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “Biden will get there a lot faster than Trump will.” But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits.
“Overall, I think Trump will be better for the U.S. economy,” says economist Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute. “Trump will be better from a free-market perspective.”
Biden’s campaign has put forth a detailed blueprint of his infrastructure and other proposals that it says will create 12 million jobs. Trump’s campaign has generally provided vague economic proposals that could be fleshed out later. The president, for example, vowed to create 10 million jobs in 10 months but didn’t specify how.