Skimm2020PUBLISHED JAN 27, 2020

2020 Election: The Economy

Economy 2020

The Story

Candidates want you to know how their presidency could impact your wallet.

The Background

The US economy is currently in its longest expansion...ever. Unemployment is at a record low, there’s been steady GDP growth, and the stock market hit a number of record highs last year. But the economy has been slowing down. That’s because of things like the US-China trade war, which has hurt industries like farming and manufacturing. In 2019, the Fed started cutting interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis with the hope of avoiding a recession. That’s contributed to things like lower mortgage rates, which have helped the housing market grow. And recession alarm bells have died down a bit, especially since trade tensions around the world (see: the US-China trade war, the new NAFTA deal) have cooled off.

Meanwhile, income inequality has become a focus of the 2020 campaign. In 2018, the gap between the US’s wealthiest and poorest families hit a 50-year high. Some of the reasons: a decline in labor unions, the federal minimum wage staying stagnant at $7.25, and tax policies that favor wealthier families. Candidates have different ideas on how to fix the problem. See: universal basic income, “baby bonds,” a tax on the country’s richest people, and tax breaks for the lower and middle classes.

Speaking of taxes: back in 2017, Republicans overhauled the country’s tax code for the first time in decades. It included tax cuts in every income bracket and for big corporations. The cuts contributed to the US deficit reaching nearly $1 trillion in 2019. Candidates from both parties have criticized the Trump admin for allowing that number to get so high.

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President Trump is putting the economy’s wins front and center on the campaign trail. And a strong economy is essentially a shoo-in for a president’s re-election. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates have called him out for ignoring the middle class, pointing to trade disputes hurting US workers and tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big businesses. Here’s where the candidates stand:

Editor's note: This page will be updated as the candidate field narrows

Donald Trump Republican
President Donald Trump
  • 2017 tax bill reduced corporate taxes

  • Unemployment rate has reached 50-year low while he's been in office

  • Reached new trade deal with Canada, Mexico

  • Renegotiating terms of trade deals with China, EU, other countries


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Joe Biden Democrat
Former VP Joe Biden
  • Raise minimum wage to $15/hr

  • Reverse parts of the 2017 tax law, give tax credits to lower income families


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