Candidate Catchup: Domestic Economic Policies of Presidential Hopefuls

By Lucie Abele PO ’22

Domestic economic policy is a topic that is significant to American voters, who want to see economic growth, higher real wages, and improved employment. The domestic economic policies of six potential Presidential candidates, selected from the frontrunners of the Republican and Democratic parties, are discussed here. For the Republican party, President Donald Trump is considered the only major candidate, as his current approval rating from Republican voters is eighty-nine percent. For the Democratic party, the race is much closer, and the policies of the five candidates who polled the highest as of January 2020 (Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar) are presented.


President Donald Trump’s domestic economic policy platform indicates a continuation of his economic policies during his first term in office. Trump emphasizes the nation’s economic success throughout the past few years, highlighting the rising value of U.S. financial markets and the success of labor markets. In September of 2019, the unemployment rate was as low as 3.7%, the lowest it has been in fifty years. Trump has also reduced tax rates, especially for high income tax payers, and reformed business taxation. His belief in trickle-down economics is intended to boost short-run GDP and will likely continue into his next term if he is reelected.


Joe Biden’s domestic economic policy looks to rebuild the American middle class as the “backbone of the country.” He intends to do this through strengthening worker organization, collective bargaining, and unions; by countering large pharmaceutical corporations; and by strengthening Medicare and Social Security, looking back toward the policies implemented during his time as Vice President under President Obama. Biden plans to create jobs for middle class Americans through a $1.3 trillion investment in American infrastructure and to increase the federal minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour, a policy also supported by each of the other Democratic candidates. Additionally, Biden wants to revitalize rural America by investing in its resources.


Elizabeth Warren’s domestic economic policy plan will implement a tax on large American corporations and a two percent wealth tax on Americans with assets of more than fifty million dollars, as well as higher rates on billionaires. Warren champions “economic patriotism,” which she defines as growing the economy by beginning with a strong middle class, a belief that is held by many of the Democratic candidates. Additionally, Warren plans to create 10.6 million jobs through her Green New Deal by launching federal programs that provide middle-class careers, investing twenty billion dollars in apprenticeships, and transitioning to renewable energy.


Bernie Sanders plans to implement a domestic economic policy that will create a “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights” that will guarantee “the rights to the basic necessities of life.”Sanders additionally wants to implement a tax on the top 0.1% of American households, or those with a net worth of over thirty-two million dollars. By taxing extreme wealth as well as taxing corporations with revenues of over one-hundred million dollars, Sanders hopes to break up the wealth and power of billionaires. Finally, Sanders plans to enact a Federal Jobs Guarantee through investment in infrastructure and through his Green New Deal.


Pete Buttigieg plans to create an inclusive economy by initiating entrepreneurship to spur economic growth and by creating jobs in minority communities. Buttigieg’s plan involves federal investments in entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds as well as a Debt-for-Jobs plan to combat student debt while also boosting entrepreneurship. Buttigieg also hopes to work toward improving other worker benefits and freedoms including overtime pay and unionization in the interests of the working- and middle-classes.


Amy Klobuchar aims for the shared economic prosperity of the country in the future by increasing the minimum wage, bolstering the efforts of small business owners, and improving worker benefits. Klobuchar advocates for investment in rural communities; in infrastructure, including mass transit, school construction, waterways, and airports; and in both public and private programs. She plans to invest one trillion dollars – a pledge that Trump made in 2016 but did not fulfill – for the future of the country as well as to provide jobs. Additionally, Klobuchar intends to promote business competition by countering large monopolistic companies and empowering workers.

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