President Trump hailed his administration's economic record during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate on Tuesday night, while his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, scrutinized the president's policy of prioritizing the interests of the rich over those of working Americans.
In a frantic back-and-forth exchange typical of a highly controversial debate between the two men, Trump praised his administration for building "the greatest economy in history" – one he believes was only because of the coronavirus pandemic derailed (or "the China plague," as the president said) and showed signs of recovery as states across the country eased lockdown restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
As moderator Chris Wallace noted, the US unemployment rate has recovered somewhat from its peak during the pandemic, falling to 8.4% last month.
"He wants to close it again," Trump said of Biden, while at the same time criticizing "Democrat-run states" that have maintained lockdown restrictions as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. "You have to open these states."
Biden countered by claiming that the beneficiaries of Trump's economy were "millionaires and billionaires like him" who "did very well" thanks to what Biden called a "lavish" tax plan that ordinary, working Americans did not benefit from . Biden also criticized Trump for "insisting that we move on" by reopening parts of the country that are still fighting the spread of the virus.
"You can't fix the economy until you've resolved the COVID crisis," Biden said. "(Trump) has no intention of doing better."
The subject of Trump's own finances was also brought up following a New York Times report on Sunday that shed new light on the president's previously unpublished income tax returns – including the revelation that he was only $ 750 in 2016 and 2017 Has paid federal taxes.
When Wallace asked bluntly whether that $ 750 number was correct, Trump claimed he had "paid millions of dollars in taxes" and, like any other private individual, used tax loopholes and benefits to reduce his tax liability "- it was because, they're stupid. ”Trump made a similar claim during his 2016 debates with then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Biden said he would "get rid of Trump's tax cuts" (referring to the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act) and "make sure we invest in the people who need help". He endorsed a "Buy American" proposal, which should give priority to American manufacturers, and reaffirmed his commitment to lower the corporate tax rate to 28% (from 21% today).
Trump countered by criticizing the Obama administration's economic record after the great recession and pointing to the success of the stock market as evidence of his administration's economic success. "If the stock market rises, jobs are equal," Trump claimed despite recent evidence to the contrary.
Meanwhile, Biden claimed that the president had done "very little" about economic gains, particularly regarding his heated trade war with China. "(Trump) talks about the art of the deal … China has perfected the art of theft," Biden said.
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