US election: what exactly are Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s policies?

The two candidates are pushing radically different agendas amid all the name-calling and campaign chaos

Trump vs. Biden
The two candidates are pushing radically different agendas amid all the name-calling and campaign chaos
(Image credit: JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP)

The 2020 election cycle has been characterised by personal attacks, record spending and a disorderly opening presidential debate that at times descended into farce.

Donald Trump has dubbed Joe Biden “the destroyer of American greatness”, while the Democratic contender has dismissed the president as a “fool” and a “clown”.

But what political platforms are the 45th US leader and his rival pushing as voters prepare to go to the polls?

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Donald Trump’s key 2020 policies

If re-elected, Trump proposes to pursue an agenda that will focus on “jobs, taxes and the economy”, The Telegraph says.

He has also attempted to position himself as a “law and order” president who will put down the violence and protesting that has gripped the US in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer.

But the rest of the pledges in his ten-point agenda “are a little more loosely worded”, says the newspaper, which points to his pledge to continue to “drain the swamp”.

Job creation

Trump is promising to create ten million new jobs in ten months, and to help launch a million new small businesses.

Eradication of Covid

Trump has launched “Operation Warp Speed” in a bid to swiftly find a viable coronavirus vaccine, which he has vowed to deliver by the end of the year. He has also promised that any viable vaccines developed in the US will be distributed with an America-first approach before being made available to other countries.

Health care

Trump last month laid out his “vision” for health care in America, but according to CNN, his plans “fall far short of a comprehensive proposal”.

The president has pledged to sign an executive order to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, yet Republicans have spent much of his first term trying to tear down the Affordable Care Act that already safeguards these people.

He has also promised to reduce drug prices and reduce overall health costs, but again, his plans have tended to “lack detail”, says the AP news agency.

Joe Biden’s key 2020 policies

Biden has been in politics for almost 50 years and “is using his long experience in Washington to portray himself as a steady hand able to calm a country in chaos”, The Telegraph says.

Barack Obama’s former vice-president has promised to reverse many of the Trump administration’s decisions, including the Republican leader’s signature tax cuts and withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.


Donald Trump’s election in 2016 “led to the biggest shift in US trade policy” since the Second World War, “as he piled on tariffs and eschewed alliance-building”, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But Biden has promised a U-turn in a bid to “woo allies battered by Trump trade sanctions, rethink the use of tariffs and try to create a united front to confront China”, the paper says.

Energy and environment

While Trump has frequently questioned the veracity of climate change data, Biden is a staunch supporter of the need for urgent environmental action.

Whereas Trump has vowed to continue pursuing fossil fuels and a deregulatory agenda, his Democratic challenger has promised “a Clean Energy Revolution” through which he aims to turn “this threat into an opportunity” by “harnessing all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation”.

Biden has also promised to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, but has not backed the Green New Deal advocated for by some in his party.


Boosting the middle class is “one of the main pillars of Biden’s campaign”, says CNN.

He has spoken of creating an economy that “rewards work, not just wealth”, and is pushing for a $15 minimum hourly wage, along with plans to expand access to affordable education.

Ultimately, however, more than any “ideological or policy particulars”, Biden’s core promise is “to end the perpetual chaos of The Trump Show”, says The New York Times.

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