President Donald Trump’s rally near Harrisburg Saturday night illustrates Pennsylvania’s continued importance in the November election.
Both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the former vice president, have made repeated visits to Pennsylvania in recent months. Pennsylvania has been widely picked as one of the key states that will determine who wins the election.
Ahead of Trump’s event at Harrisburg International Airport, here are the positions of Trump and Biden on issues such as fracking, police reform and other areas of major interest to Pennsylvania voters.
Trump has consistently portrayed Biden as planning to totally ban fracking in the state. Fact-checkers have concluded he misrepresents his Democratic opponent’s position.
Biden, while having to clarify his remarks on several occasions, has said he has no plans to ban fracking and doubts it’s even possible. Rather, he has cited goals of eliminating power plant emissions in 15-30 years, eliminating subsidies for gas and coal, and banning “only new oil and gas permits, fracking included, on federal land.”
That wouldn’t impact fracking on private and state-owned land; oil and gas production on federal land accounted for less than 10% of production in 2018, according to the Associated Press.
During a recent town hall in Scranton, Biden said: “Fracking has to continue because we need a transition. We’re going to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, and we’ll get to net-zero power emissions by 2035. But there’s no rationale to eliminate, right now, fracking.”
Trump and his campaign have offered varying numbers for job losses in the event of a ban on fracking, citing figures including 600,000, “600,000, 670,000” and, as Trump recently told a western Pennsylvania audience, “probably 940,000, they say.”
The oil and gas industry directly employ about 20,146 in Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the figures cited by the Trump campaign come from a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute which concluded a fracking ban would cost 609,000 jobs, with 54,000 involving direct jobs in things such as exploration and extraction.
However, the Post-Gazette wrote “the bulk of the job loss would come downstream from the gas and oil industry, the report says, though it doesn’t detail the exact methodology or mathematical reasoning for how the institute reached those numbers.”
In general, Biden supports tighter oversight of oil and gas production to minimize pollution and climate impact. He proposes spending heavily to encourage cleaner energy, toward a goal of U.S. power plants emitting no carbon pollution from fossil fuels by 2035, according to the Associated Press.
Trump has focused on rolling back efforts to limit greenhouse gas admissions and address climate change. That includes his promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement of 195 nations who agree to cut greenhouse gases. The withdrawal would officially take place one day after the 2020 election, according to Brookings.
Trump has also rolled back regulations governing fossil fuels, toward a goal of increasing fossil fuel production and use and energy-related jobs. He has rolled back limits on toxic substances from power plants. He has lifted bans on fossil fuel production on public lands, and on oil and gas exploration in areas in Alaska, the arctic, coastal waters and additional formerly protected areas.
His administration has done what it can to further assorted pipeline projects including the Keystone XL pipeline. Trump has said his goal is to make sure America isn’t dependent on other countries for the production of energy.
Trump has said lawbreaking and violence will consume the country if Biden is elected. He said Biden has been “completely silent about the rioters and criminals spreading mayhem in Democrat-run cities,” according to NPR.
Biden has countered that the violence and protests which began with the death of George Floyd are taking place on Trump’s watch, deep into his term in office, and are a result of his failures in policy and leadership.
Trump’s most significant criminal justice reform has been the First Step Act. The act, which had bipartisan support in Congress and took effect in 2018, brought about sentencing reforms and reduced some harsh, drug-related penalties.
Following unrest after Floyd’s death in police custody, Trump signed an executive order to provide federal grants to improve police training and create a national database of police misconduct claims.
Biden, while a senator during the 1990s, was a leader in assorted “tough on crime” policies, including hard penalties for drug-related crimes, money to build new prisons and funding for 100,000 new police officers, according to NPR.
He no longer supports some of those measures. Some Democrats complained those measures, such as tougher sentences have had a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups. Biden also has come out against defunding police departments.
Biden supports measures including a ban on police chokeholds, a new federal police oversight commission, and new national standards regarding use of force.
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, also has received push back from progressive Democrats over her tough-on-crime actions while district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.
These include a threat to prosecute parents of children who skipped school. Harris has said the policy proved a caring way to address truancy that didn’t center on punishment.
According to NPR, she recently said, “nobody went to jail, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of families went through our program, which was a program of getting greater resources to them so the child could be in school every day.”
While in the U.S. Senate, Harris collaborated with Republican Sen. Rand Paul on a bail reform bill, with the two writing in the New York Times that “excessive bail disproportionately harms people from low-income communities and communities of color.”
Health care, COVID-19 response
Trump has said the U.S. response to COVID-19 is “perfect.” Still, the death toll from the disease, which took its first life in the United States in February, has surpassed 200,000. Critics point out that the United States, with 4% of the world’s population, has accounted for about 22% of deaths and 25% of total cases. Polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found 56% disapprove.
Trump has often disagreed with his own government experts regarding the severity of the pandemic and the importance of prevention measures such as face masks. He has often been as odds with experts and governors of both parties in his push to reopen businesses and schools.
Trump for months has said the cure, in terms of tactics that impact businesses and schools, threatens to be worse than the disease, arguing that the resulting job losses and financial hardship have their own serious health consequences, including suicide.
Biden has vowed to put the federal government largely in charge of the pandemic response and to put “scientists and public health leaders front and center.”
Regarding health care reform, Trump has backed efforts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He backs a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court that would fully overturn the ACA. He supports short-term health insurance plans which he says cost less. However, experts say the lower price comes from not covering all of the essential benefits required by the ACA. He promises to continue the ACA’s protections to ensure people with pre-existing conditions can obtain health care coverage without excessive charges.
Trump has capped insulin costs for some people covered by Medicare. His other proposals including limiting the price of some drugs to prices charged in other countries, allowing people to import drugs from other countries, and banning rebates to Medicare pharmacy benefit managers.
Biden would build on the ACA by increasing government assistance toward premiums, creating a public option plan that’s similar to Medicare, and allowing people to receive Medicare at age 60. He would allow the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare and cap prices at the level paid by other high-income countries. He also would allow people to import drugs and cap out-of-pocket drug costs for people on Medicare.
Trump opposes Roe V. Wade, the Supreme Court decision made abortion legal. He promises to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will provide the needed vote to overturn it. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives him the opportunity. Trump has said he plans to announce a nominee Saturday at the White House, the same day he’ll return to central Pennsylvania.
Trump has also eliminated federal funding toward family planning clinics that provide or refer people to abortion providers, and allowed employers to exclude coverage of contraceptives on religious or moral grounds.
Biden supports Roe v Wade and abortion rights. He promises to appoint judges who will uphold abortion rights, and reverse assorted Trump limits on things such as funding for family planning clinics.
According to Gallup, 48% of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice” and supportive of abortion rights, and 46% percent consider themselves “pro-life” and opposed to abortion. Fifty percent say abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances; 29% say it should be legal under any circumstance; and 20% say it should be illegal in all circumstances.
The pandemic-driven recession cost the U.S. about 23 million jobs at its peak. More than 9.3 million have returned as businesses reopened and called back workers. About 29 million people were receiving some form of unemployment assistance as of the beginning of September, according to the Washington Post.
Both Trump and Biden back additional, massive federal relief to help people and businesses hurting from the pandemic. Biden and Democrats are pushing for a much bigger package. However, Trump recently urged Republicans in Congress to “go for the much higher numbers.” He has expressed support for a $1.5 trillion plan that would include $1,200 stimulus checks, according to Marketplace.
Biden backs measures including emergency paid leave for sick workers, including gig economy workers, covering 100% of their earnings, with a cap of $1,400 per week. He backs no-interest loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Trump’s overall economic plan is somewhat vague, given Republicans’ decision not to offer a detailed platform at their national convention.
Much of his plan to improve the economy and create jobs centers on cutting taxes and regulations. During the Republican National Convention, he said: “We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before.”
Trump has floated the possibility of additional tariffs on Chinese goods. He has said he’s considering cutting individual taxes, although he didn’t say which ones; Congress would have to approve such tax cuts.
Biden proposes raising taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000 and eliminating tax loopholes. He has said those earning $400,000 or less won’t see a tax increase.
Biden also would raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, up from 21%. It was 35% before Congress, with the blessing of Trump, lowered it in 2017. He would return the top individual tax rate to 39.6%, up from 37%, which would apply to individuals earning more than about $518,000 and couples earning more than about $622,000, according to Marketwatch.
Biden would use the new tax money for things including rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and shifting to clean energy, which he says would create millions of new jobs.
He would raise the federal minimum wage to $15, up from $7.25.
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