The United States is making last minute preparations for national elections on Tuesday, November 3.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are the two main candidates for president. Trump is the choice of the Republican Party. The Democratic Party chose Biden as its nominee.
The two men disagree about most issues. Their differences provide voters with clear choices for the direction of the country over the coming four years.
Trump has mostly governed as he said he would during his presidential election campaign four years ago. The Republican candidate says he is not a politician, but someone who sets his own path. Since taking office, his “America First” policy has tested U.S. relations with long-time allies. Trump has also attempted to expand the powers of the president, but often found his actions limited by federal court rulings.
Biden has campaigned on what Democrats call progressive policy positions. He has promised that he will return the country to a more traditional form of politics. Supporters say that, as president, Biden would get involved in detailed policy debates and legislative deal-making. Biden has said he will work with allies to reach policy objectives.
Coronavirus health crisis efforts
More than 225,000 Americans have died of causes linked to the novel coronavirus. The virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, was first identified in China last year and quickly spread to other countries.
Parts of the United States are currently facing their highest levels of infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 145 million tests have been performed nationwide.
The Trump administration’s plan for dealing with the virus is to develop vaccines and therapeutic treatments for those infected. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows recently said that the Trump administration does not believe it can “control” the virus. The administration has not required Americans to wear face masks. Public health experts note that wearing masks could reduce infection rates and save lives.
Biden supports the development of vaccines and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19. But he has called for more federal efforts to contain the virus. Biden has repeatedly said that he believes a nationwide mask requirement is both legal and necessary.
Both Trump and Biden support the reopening of U.S. schools. Biden proposes providing federal money to help schools open safely. Trump has proposed holding back on the release of federal money to schools that fail to reopen.
The issue of climate change
Trump has expressed support for the U.S. oil and gas industries, saying they are important to employment in many states. Since taking office, he has taken steps to expand oil and coal production.
Early in his presidency, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. That agreement is aimed at limiting rising temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere. The accord sets limits on industrial pollution from developed countries.
Biden has proposed a $2 trillion plan to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Democratic candidate says he would push to make electricity production in the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2035. Carbon-neutral means exactly balancing the release of carbon gasses with their removal from the atmosphere.
Biden has said he does not fully support the Green New Deal program, a legislative proposal that many Democrats support. But he does support parts of it. The plan aims to fight climate change and economic inequality. Biden also wants to expand the use of electric vehicles and has promised to return the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord.
Law enforcement and race relations
Over the past year, many U.S. cities have faced protests over the deaths of unarmed Black people involving police. Demonstrators say they are angry over abuses by police and racial injustice in American society.
Trump has made it clear that he supports the law enforcement community. He has called for policies that punish demonstrators who use violence or destroy property.
Biden has tried to walk a fine line between calling for order and condemning violence on all sides. Some political observers say he wants to keep the support of a growing movement within the Democratic Party that wants to reform law enforcement methods.
In debates with Trump, Biden said he does not support efforts to cut spending on police. Biden has said he is open to providing support for programs that would give communities choices other than an armed police response when facing individuals with mental health or drug problems.
The issue of health care coverage
Trump’s administration is currently arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. It wants the high court to rule on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The health care program is known as Obamacare because it was signed into law by former President Barack Obama. How the court’s members rule will decide if parts of the program will remain or whether the law will be overturned.
The law’s cancellation could affect the health care coverage of an estimated 23 million Americans who receive government assistance under its rules. Supporters of the law say its cancellation could raise concerns including whether people with pre-existing conditions will remain covered.
Trump has promised to provide a plan that is better and costs less than the ACA, but he has yet to release a complete plan. He also has promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Biden was vice president when the ACA was approved by Congress. He wants to expand the program by offering a “public option” that would permit people to buy a Medicare-like program if they choose. Medicare is a federal program that helps retired Americans pay for healthcare costs. Biden has proposed lowering the age for people to join Medicare, from 65 years to 60.
Trump has campaigned on the successful passage of his 2017 tax cut for individuals and businesses. He has promised additional reductions in the future. Trump also has suggested that he wants to cut taxes on capital gains, the profits Americans make when they sell stocks or other investments.
Biden has clearly said that wants to raise taxes on rich people and on businesses. He said he would roll back many of the tax cuts in the 2017 legislation. He has promised that only individuals earning more than $400,000 each year would pay more in taxes. Biden also proposes raising the tax on profits reported by businesses from 21 to 28 percent.
President Trump’s trade policy has mainly centered on discussions with individual nations instead of large trade agreements involving two or more countries. The Trump administration successfully renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The administration’s efforts to reform U.S. trade with China have largely halted since the start of the coronavirus health crisis. But earlier in his term, Trump ordered tariffs on goods from countries and groups that the administration said do not trade fairly with the United States. Critics say the tariffs hurt U.S. buyers who cannot or will not buy from suppliers unaffected by the trade taxes.
Biden has said that he would reconsider one of the first moves Trump made on taking office: the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That trade deal involves countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Biden has also promised to reconsider tariffs, suggesting he would withdraw at least some of them.
Trump has sought to strengthen the U.S. military through increased defense spending. He has reduced the number of forces in foreign countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has sought changes to troop deployment on the soil of allies like Germany.
Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are required to spend a percentage of their economies on their militaries. Trump has criticized many NATO countries for not spending enough. This has angered some supporters of NATO who say his words have hurt the alliance.
Biden is more of an internationalist than Trump. He once served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden has strong relationships with many leaders of America’s traditional allies. Supporters expect him to begin rebuilding U.S. ties to those countries if he is elected.
I’m Ashley Thompson. And I'm Mario Ritter.
Rob Garver reported this story for VOANEWS. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
therapeutic – adj. related to treating sickness and providing good effects on the body
mask – n. a covering for part or all of the face
greenhouse – n. a structure or area that traps heat from the sun
response – n. an answer or reaction
tariff – n. a tax paid on a classification of imports or exports
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