Washington, October 31
Expect to see a lot more of the same if there’s a second Trump administration.
President Donald Trump has consistently pointed to tax cuts and regulatory relief as key successes of his first four years in office. He has repeatedly pushed for the end of the Obama-era health law but has yet to deliver a plan to replace it.
And he has spent most of this year defending his response to the coronavirus pandemic while fighting openly with scientists and medical experts about vaccines, treatments and more.
If he gets another four years in office, there’s no indication of any big policy shift.
A glimpse at how a second Trump term might look: ECONOMY, TAXES AND THE DEBT
Low unemployment and a soaring stock market were Trump’s calling cards before the pandemic. While the stock market clawed its way back after cratering in the early weeks of the crisis, unemployment stands at 7.9 per cent, and the nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost since the pandemic began exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-09 Great Recession.
And by Friday, Wall Street had closed out another punishing week with the S&P 500 posting its first back-to-back monthly loss since the pandemic first gripped the economy in March. Much of the market’s focus has been on what’s to come for the economy when coronavirus counts are rising at troubling rates across Europe and the United States.
Trump has predicted that the U.S. economy will rebound in late 2020 and take off like a “rocket ship” in 2021. He promises that a coronavirus vaccine or effective therapeutics will soon be available, allowing life to get back to normal. His push for a payroll tax cut over the summer was thwarted by stiff bipartisan opposition.
But winning a second term – and a mandate from voters – could help him resurrect the idea.
An analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Trump’s plan would increase the debt by about USD 5 trillion over 10 years. That’s on top of the USD 13 trillion in deficits the country is already expected to run up during that time.
The national debt now stands at more than USD 20 trillion.
Trump insists that the country is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic and has stepped up calls on Democratic governors to lift coronavirus restrictions in their states. But Trump’s sunny outlook belies the ground truth in many states – including several critical to his path to 270 Electoral College votes – that have seen a surge in the virus.
The president has often disputed medical experts in his own administration, among them infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, on key issues surrounding the virus, including the timing of a vaccine, the need for social distancing and the importance of masks to contain the virus.
His campaign rallies were filled with people gathered less than 6 feet apart without masks. His announcement of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was widely regarded to be a super spreader event after he and several other people in attendance were diagnosed with the virus.
Trump spent three days at Walter Reed National Medical Center after his diagnosis. One of the drugs he received, remdesivir, has since been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of COVID-19.
Trump also says he’s “pretty damn certain” that vaccines and new treatments for the virus are coming in the not-so-distant future. Scientists are more cautious about the timing.
Congress passed and Trump signed into law a more than $2 trillion coronavirus relief package earlier this year, but the two sides have been unable to agree on an additional aid package.
As a candidate for the White House, Trump promised that he would “immediately” replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law with a plan of his own that would provide “insurance for everybody” with lower costs. Americans are still waiting for a pan that Trump has been teasing for many months.
He may be counting on the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear a case challenging “Obamacare” soon after the election. The court now has a solid conservative majority with the confirmation of Barrett as a justice.
Trump officials say the administration has made strides by championing transparency on hospital prices, pursuing a range of actions to curb prescription drug costs and expanding lower-cost health insurance alternatives for small businesses and individuals. But those incremental steps fall far short of the sweeping changes he promised.
The number of uninsured people has gone up on Trump’s watch, from 27.6 million people under age 65 in 2017 to 29.2 million last year, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. There are no solid statistics on uninsured Americans this year, after millions lost job-related coverage in the pandemic.
On prescription drugs, Trump came into office promising change so Americans would see the lower costs common in other economically advanced countries. But he backed away from a 2016 campaign promise to authorise Medicare to negotiate prices. And a big, bipartisan deal with Congress to reduce costs for Medicare recipients and restrain price increases eluded him. — AP