2020 Presidential Candidate Guide

Joe Biden (Democrat)
Joe Biden (Democrat)
Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Republican - Incumbent)

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT- Support Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare? Support a public option?

Joe Biden – Yes. Wants public option “like Medicare” to “build on the Affordable Care Act.” Raise subsidies and tax credits to lower premiums.

Donald Trump – No on both. “Terminate” Obamacare and “replace with a plan that’s far better.” Filed Supreme Court brief to overturn.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE – Limit campaign contributions? Support public funding and expanded disclosure?

Joe Biden – Yes. Eliminate all private donations from federal elections; replace solely by public funding. Would expand required disclosure.

Donald Trump – No. Dislikes using taxpayer money for public funding. Opposed House bill that supported it and expanded disclosure rules.

CLIMATE CHANGE – Is human-caused climate change a serious threat? Limit greenhouse gases or fund renewable energy?

Joe Biden – Yes. An existential threat.” Rejoin Paris Climate Agreement to limit emissions. Introduced $2 trillion plan to boost clean energy and rebuild infrastructure.

Donald Trump – No. “Don’t know that it’s manmade.” Climate scientists have “political agenda” risking “millions of jobs.” Cut renewables funding. Withdrew U.S. from Paris Agreement.

CONTRACEPTION – Require health plans to cover birth control?

Joe Biden – Yes. Views as women’s and worker’s rights issue. Restore Obamacare contraception coverage mandate. But in 2012 opposed it on religious freedom grounds.

Donald Trump – No. Views as religious freedom issue. Administration argued in court against requiring coverage and for letting employers block coverage.

COURTS – Nominate Ginsburg replacement now or leave decision to next president?

Joe Biden – Wait for next president.  Doing now is “a gigantic mistake and abuse of power.” See CEEP Supreme Court Guide.

Donald Trump – Replace now. Thinks election will “end up in the Supreme Court,” so fill the vacancy now. See CEEP Supreme Court Guide.

COVID-19 – Plan for dealing with COVID? Support Trump withdrawal from World Health Organization (WHO)?

Joe Biden – Emergency paid leave for all affected, more testing, strong federal response, wearing masks, and strengthening social distancing. Opposed WHO withdrawal: “Strengthening global health” makes Americans safer. Says Trump “quit on this country.”

Donald Trump – States must take main responsibility for testing. Opposes mandatory masks. Invest in developing vaccines. Ban on China flights saved “thousands and thousands” of lives. WHO “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”

COVID CRISIS – ECONOMIC RESPONSE – What should COVID stimulus bills prioritize?

Joe Biden – Much bigger stimulus, with aid to states and cities. Supports “trillion-dollar infrastructure program,” with tougher conditions on business bailouts and focus on small business and essential workers.

Donald Trump – Reduce capital gains and payroll taxes, limit business liability. Three-month student loan deferral. Opposes congressional oversight of stimulus bailouts. Payments to workers should include “incentive to work.”

EDUCATION – Support free (or highly subsidized) public college tuition or loan forgiveness for low-income students?

Joe Biden – Yes. Two years free community college. Free public 4-year college if families make below $125,000. Cover student-debt payments for public college and some others if earning under $125,000, max payment 5% of income.

Donald Trump – Unclear. Proposed deep cuts to federal financial aid programs and ending public service loan forgiveness. Proposed borrowers pay 12.5% of discretionary yearly income with loans forgiven after 15-25 years.

ENVIRONMENT – Tighten or loosen environmental protections?

Joe Biden – Tighten. Rescind permit for Keystone pipeline. Preserve and implement Clean Air Act, and ban new drilling on public lands. Let existing fracking continue.

Donald Trump – Loosen environmental review laws. Supports EPA cutbacks and Keystone pipeline. “We are reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation of builders.”

FINANCIAL REGULATION – Tighten or loosen regulation of banks and credit card companies?

Joe Biden – Tighten. “Worked closely” on Dodd-Frank bank regulation. Supports Warren overhaul of U.S. bankruptcy law. But as senator often supported stands of credit card companies.

Donald Trump – Loosen. Vowed to “dismantle” Dodd-Frank. Supported weakening Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Opposed congressional oversight of COVID business stimulus funds.

GUN LAWS – More restrictive legislation on guns? Stricter background checks and bans on assault rifles?

Joe Biden – Yes. Gun violence is a “public health epidemic.” Ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines; background checks for all gun sales.

Donald Trump – Mostly no. Said would support background checks. Later opposed House bill mandating them. Rescinded rule limiting gun access for people receiving mental illness benefits.

IMMIGRATION – Path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents, including DACA participants brought to U.S. as children? Position on border walls and limiting asylum?

Joe Biden – Yes. Reinstate DACA program. Supports “roadmap to legal status and citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.” “Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our borders.” “Modernize” immigration, allow more total visas.

Donald Trump – No. Tried to end DACA program; overruled by Supreme Court. Said would veto DACA path to citizenship. Earlier said might support as part of broader deal. Declared national emergency to pay for border wall. Tightened legal immigration and asylum limits.

IRAN – Support Trump withdrawal from Iran nuclear treaty? Require congressional approval for military to attack Iran?

Joe Biden – Oppose withdrawal. “No illusions” on Iran, but diplomacy is “only way out.” Trump lacks authority to launch attacks. Backs relief from sanctions during pandemic.

Donald Trump – Yes. Withdrew from treaty. Imposed sanctions. Ordered killing of Iranian general in Iraq. Vetoed requiring congressional authorization for military attack.

LABOR – Support “right-to-work” laws, banning unions from mandating dues for workers they represent?

Joe Biden – No. Repeal Taft-Hartley provisions that let states impose right-to-work laws. Penalize “companies that interfere with workers’ organizing efforts.”

Donald Trump – Yes. Supports right-to-work laws as creating more flexibility. Issued order making it easier to fire federal employees. Revoked Obama order tightening wage and hour rules.

LEGAL ABORTION – Keep Legal or ban?

Joe Biden – Legal. Supports “right to choose.” “Codify Roe v. Wade into law. Until 2019, backed existing federal abortion funding ban.

Donald Trump – Ban. “Strongly pro-life.” First president to attend March for Life. Promised to appoint justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.

LGBT RIGHTS – Support LGBTQ rights, including protection from discrimination?

Joe Biden – Yes. First supported gay marriage in 2012. “Protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.” Supports Equality Act.

Donald Trump – No. Prohibiting job discrimination for sexual orientation was a “horrible” decision. Rolled back LGBTQ health care protections to protect religious freedom. Previously mixed.

MARIJUANA – Decriminalize or keep illegal?

Joe Biden – Decriminalize use. “Expunge all cannabis use convictions, end incarceration for drug use alone.” Don’t interfere with states. But  doesn’t support full federal legalization.

Donald Trump – Keep illegal. Rescinded rule preventing federal prosecutions in states where legal. Proposed removing medical marijuana protections.

MINIMUM WAGE – Raise federal hourly minimum wage above current $7.25/hour?

Joe Biden – Yes. “$15 an hour minimum wage is long overdue.” Index to median hourly wage, with automatic minimum increases.

Donald Trump – No. Threatened to veto $15 minimum when House passed it.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD – Can Planned Parenthood receive federal funds for non-abortion-related care?

Joe Biden – Yes. Will restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other family-planning programs.

Donald Trump – No. Blocked groups providing abortion referrals from receiving federal family- planning funds.

POLICE – Restrict police use of force and increase public oversight? Position on sending federal law enforcement agents to cities against wishes of mayors and governors?

Joe Biden – Yes. More community policing, ban chokeholds. Root out unlawful policing, systemic racism, prosecutorial misconduct. Doesn’t support defunding. Trump deployments furthered “chaos and division.”

Donald Trump – No. Police are “under siege.” Cut back active federal oversight of excess force, though supported database to track it. Said deployment of federal agents was necessary to restore “law and order.”

SAUDI ARABIA – Block arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war and allegations about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death?

Joe Biden – Yes. “Will end our support for Saudi-led war in Yemen,”I would punish Saudi leaders for Khashoggi’s death” and stop arms sales and end subsidies.

Donald Trump – No. Vetoed bipartisan resolution to block arms sales, a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.” The U.S. will “remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia.”

SOCIAL SECURITY – Partly privatize Social Security or raise retirement age to stabilize program?

Joe Biden – No. Make Social Security solvent by adding new tax on high earners to match what middle class already pays. Expand benefits and reject privatization.

Donald Trump – Unclear. Proposed $35 billion cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, with possible cuts to overall entitlements.

TAXES – Raise or lower taxes on the wealthy and corporations?

Joe Biden – Raise corporate tax and capital gains rates. “Get rid of” most of “Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut,” which wealthy people “don’t need.”

Donald Trump – Unclear. Proposed $35 billion cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, with possible cuts to overall entitlements.

VOTING RULES – Strict ID and other rules to combat possible fraud, even if limit access?

Joe Biden – No. Restore Voting Rights Act. Challenge state laws limiting voting rights. Support automatic and same-day voter registration.

Donald Trump – Yes. Seeks stronger voter ID requirements. Voter ID opponents “intend to cheat.”

Editor’s note: Also see our Green & Libertarian responses. And Guides.vote for our state guides. Campus Election Engagement Project is a nonpartisan effort to help colleges engage students in elections. Sources include Votesmart.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and candidate statements. Vote411.org and Ballotready.org offer guides to local races.