The Simple Dollar Guide to the 2021 Presidential Election

On November 3, American voters will decide who sits in the oval office for the next four years. While things will certainly change between now and then, a recent poll from Reuters has former VP Joe Biden at 47% and President Donald Trump at 40% among registered voters. It also showed that voters rank the economy and healthcare as two of the most critical topics in the upcoming election.

As with any election, it’s sometimes hard to pin down the candidates’ views on all the topics that could affect your wallet. So, here’s a look at what Biden and Trump are saying about seven economic issues.

I. Affordable housing

A growing number of Americans are finding it harder to cope with rising costs of rental housing in the U.S. And some experts warn that job losses caused by the pandemic will extend the housing crisis if relief doesn’t come.


President Trump has not issued a specific housing plan for the 2020 election. However, past actions and his 2021 budget request give us an idea of what to expect. The budget calls for reductions, or elimination of key housing programs — the proposed cut to HUD is $8.6 million.

Trump repealed the Obama-era Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation and has proposed the “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” as its replacement. This rule required the administration to use HUD funds to promote fair housing, defined as “affordable, safe, decent and free of unlawful discrimination.”


Biden has plans to expand the housing voucher program, reinstate regulations like the AFFH and require that states who receive money from the government use part of it to plan for affordable housing. A pillar of his broader plan to address racial discrimination in housing is to ensure that no more than 30% of a person’s income goes toward home costs.

Based on his housing proposal, Biden plans to invest $640 billion over 10 years “every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy-efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs.”

II. Minimum wage

Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour. To put that into perspective, someone who works full time (40 hours) at minimum wage only makes around $15,000 a year. Around 80% of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.


During a July interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said, “I’m going to have a statement on minimum wage. I feel differently than a lot of people on minimum wage, some people in my own party. But I will have a statement over the next two weeks on minimum wage.”

He indicated that it would be a positive comment and that he will be “looking into it,” though a definitive statement has not come. Historically, the Republican Party has not often supported a significant rise in the minimum wage.


Along with two-thirds of Americans, Biden supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. He proposes more regulations to monitor the abuse of corporate power over workers — addressing things like overtime and labor laws.

[Read: Biden’s Economic Plan, Explained]

Biden has also shown continuing support for raising the pay for essential workers during the pandemic. “It’s quite frankly inhumane and downright immoral because these workers are essential to our society. Not just in times of crisis, but always.”

III. Taxes

Taxes for both the average American and large corporations will continue to be an integral part of this year’s campaigns. Trump points to the things he has always done, while Biden aims to overhaul significant changes.


Trump’s recent executive order delayed payroll taxes during the pandemic to increase how much Americans take home with their paychecks. More tax cuts are an essential part of his platform; if re-elected, he has pledged to cut them permanently — though Senate approval is needed for this to come to fruition. “We’re looking very seriously at a capital-gains tax cut and also at an income-tax cut for middle-income families.”

[Read: Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral, Explained]

Previously, Trump cut corporate taxes, which resulted in a huge spike in corporate profit. Coupled with his deregulation efforts, we expect to see a continuation of the current Wall Street tax policy.


During his Super Tuesday speech, Biden said, “Let’s get something straight. Wall Street didn’t build this country, you built this country. The middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class.”

His stance has not changed. You’ll find 17 separate tax proposals on his campaign website. Biden plans to roll back a significant amount of Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut, which would impact Wall Street’s pockets. Biden has said he would raise the corporate tax rate from the current 21% to 28% and restore the top individual rate to 39.6%.

IV. Budgets and spending

Getting the U.S. out of debt has been a big selling point for candidates through the years. Aid related to the coronavirus has plunged the nation further into debt, approaching levels we haven’t seen since World War II.


Like many before him, the president’s largest claim is to reduce redundancies and eliminate wasteful federal spending.

“We’re making our country stronger again, we’re not decreasing Medicaid, but we’re doing a lot of things that are very good, including waste and fraud,” Trump said earlier this year.

Outlined in the 2021 budget, Trump has increased military and defense spending to $934 billion. After the entitled programs like Social Security, that only leaves $595 billion to pay for everything else, including functions in the IRS and Justice Department.


In the Democratic primary, Biden proposed a $1.7 trillion 10-year spending plan. It has since evolved into a $2 trillion 4-year plan with intentions of ensuring carbon-free sources generate all of the nation’s energy. His proposals come to around $10 trillion, which leaves many people wondering how the former VP plans to deal with the national debt.

V. Income inequality

According to a study from the Pew Research Center, 60% of Republicans believe the choices people make determine economic inequality. That said, many Americans are ready to fight against the income and wealth gap.


Trump has essentially stuck to his original 2016 plan to address forms of economic inequality — tax cuts, rollbacks and trade — and claims that they will benefit all Americans.


The three prongs of Biden’s approach to income inequality are access to money, housing and education. “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism, to deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation and to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation,” Biden said during a press conference in Philadelphia.

[Read: How Would Biden’s Federal Credit Bureau Work?]

Biden has also hinted that his plans for reform are more expansive. Childcare availability and bringing jobs to Americans are also among his action items.

VI. Net farm income

The USDA’s February Farm Income Forecast estimates that when adjusted for inflation, net farm income will decline in 2020. As farm bankruptcies were up almost 20% in 2019, net farm income is a topic to watch for.


At a rally in Des Moines, Trump stated, “Under three years of my administration, net farm income has already gone up nearly 50%.” However, experts point to the boost in net farm income as a result of the federal aid received to make up for the China trade loss.

Overall, Trump does not have a defined list of proposals for net farm income, even though he is confident the success of farms is dependent on his re-election.


Biden plans to strengthen rural America by pursuing a trade policy that favors farmers and their production. Current tariffs under Trump cost farms a lot, leaving many of them forced to file for bankruptcy. Biden attributed the increase in bankruptcies “largely to Trump’s unmitigated disaster of a tariff war.”

His campaign website outlines the details of his proposals, including plans to provide support to new farms and help create food systems that maximize profit.

VII. Healthcare costs

On average, Americans pay around $5,000 out-of-pocket for their healthcare costs each year, whether it’s for insurance, medical bills or prescriptions. Healthcare concerns continue to be one of the most important issues to voters. It’s also one that Republicans and Democrats disagree on how to tackle.


While his second-term agenda uses fairly ambiguous bullets like “put patients and doctors back in charge of our health care system,” he has claimed lowering premiums and ending surprise medical bills is part of his plan.

Lowering pharmaceutical prices and expanding healthcare options are also some of the main points he lays out. The sentiment is simple: make sure every American has access to health care at an affordable cost.


Biden’s focus is to protect the Affordable Care Act from bipartisan efforts to eliminate it. He also plans to improve the existing reform plan and keep the high premiums by increasing federal subsidies to enrollees.

Too long, didn’t read?

The pandemic has put an unprecedented spin on the upcoming election. Candidate’s proposals are expected to address the continuing impacts the pandemic is having on the economy and people’s finances in addition to larger policy changes. Remember, if you plan to vote by mail, keep an eye out for your state’s deadline for requesting a ballot.

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Taylor Leamey

Personal Finance Reporter

Taylor Leamey is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, mortgages, renters, and financial policy. Her reporting has also been featured at,,,, and elsewhere.

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  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.