Investments

What if Trump Wins the Election?

By Bud Kasper, CFP®, AIF®

September 14, 2020

What if Trump Wins the Election?

Election Year Planning: Things to Prepare for if Trump Wins the Election

Shane Barber and I shoulder the challenge of writing if Trump or Biden wins the election. Our task is providing facts and insights as they pertain to each candidate’s platform. Neither my friend Shane (the Beethoven of words and the Sherlock Holmes of facts) or I chose which side to represent. Instead, we were assigned a candidate. Mr. Barber will present for former Vice President Biden’s positions, while I undertake President Trump’s positions.

In addition, neither Mr. Barber nor I discussed, debated, or deliberated on our approach to this assignment, and our writings do not necessarily represent or reflect our personal beliefs. However, our wish is to provide readers with insights that hopefully provide clarity and value as Americans prepare to exercise their privilege as a citizen to vote for the next President of the United States of America.

The Thrilla in Manila

Not since the Thrilla in Manila have we seen so much divisiveness, concern, and hype as it pertains to who will be the free world’s undisputed champion, the next President of the United States. Let’s drift back in time for a brief moment to October 1, 1975. The third and final fight between The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, and Smokin’ Joe Frazier. 

The event was held in Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. The event was promoted as the “fight of the century!” as two battle-scarred heavyweight boxers, both in their own right already heavyweight champions met for the last time. The result? Ali won the fight in the 14th round when Frazier’s manager, Eddie Futch, threw in the towel. 

This fight set a record global audience of over 1 billion viewers, and for most of us sports fans, is indelibly set in our memories. This year’s presidential election could also become one of those forever memorable moments in America’s history, just like the Thrilla In Manila.

Cause and Effect if Trump or Biden Wins the Election

This year’s election has a lot on the line for so many Americans and so many reasons. However, this article hopes to rise above the name-calling and gutter media banter to focus on an old science axiom of cause and effect. Cause and effect is where the cause is partly responsible for the effect, and the effect is partly dependent on the cause. What will be the effect if Biden wins the election versus a Trump winning the election? What will cause one of those two possibilities to occur?

Voting in America

Before we jump into Mr. Trump’s cause and effect versus Mr. Biden, I first want to create a foundation of understanding as to how we as a nation elect a President. Everyone knows the election polls open on the first Tuesday in November (the 3rd) in the fourth year of a presidential cycle. Of course, this is how we cast our vote, and how we, as a nation, produce what the popular vote. 

That said, the popular vote is NOT the way a President is elected. The popular vote does not necessarily dictate how each state’s electors may vote! 

Electoral College

What’s an elector? Every state in the union has electors. Each elector represents their home state, and they officially determine the outcome of a presidential election. This is all outlined in the 12th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, by law, there is no need for a general election other than its intention to direct the elector’s vote. But that doesn’t always hold true. 

As much as I hate to bring up the 2016 election, what happened is a history lesson of the American voting system. We all know that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,853,514 (48.2%) to President Trump’s 62,984,828 (46.1%). Yes, I know that doesn’t add up to 100, but other votes were cast for candidates rather than Trump or Clinton. That said, when the official votes from the general election are presented to the electors, it was the elector’s votes in the Electoral College that decided that Donald J. Trump was the winner with 304 electoral votes versus Clinton’s 227. There are 538 total presidential electors who give their official votes for both the President and Vice President of the United States. Each elector then usually votes with the popular vote from their home state. Then again, sometimes not. 

What if Trump Wins the Election_ElectoralCollege2016

It’s essential to note that every state is allowed a certain number of electoral votes based on its population. As I mentioned before, there were 538 electoral votes in 2016. California had the most with 55, followed by 38 in Texas and Florida. Missouri had ten electoral votes and Kansas six. Each state has an allocation of electors equal to its number of U.S. House of Representatives (currently 435), plus two Senators (a total of 100 for 50 states). There is one exception; the District of Columbia is allowed three.

What’s the Reason for the Electoral College?

So why does this process exist? The establishment of the electoral college was a compromise between those wanting to elect the President in Congress and those wanting to elect the President by a popular vote. 

In March of 2020, a Pew Research Center study found that most U.S. adults (58%) were in favor of amending the Constitution, so the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide wins. Meanwhile, 40% preferred to keep the current system in which the candidate who gets the most electoral college votes is declared the winner.

Trump’s Accomplishments 

Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election by appealing to American conservatives who believe in our country and followed him under the theme “Make America Great Again”! His 2020 America First slogan restates his belief in the American spirit of family, God, and country. He recognizes our nation struggles with challenges from the Coronavirus and the aftershocks of this pandemic. Trump is a champion of our men and women in blue and our firefighters and other first responders. He sees these people risking their own lives while trying to protect others in the lawless cities that harbor domestic terrorists. His accomplishments include building the wall to keep out illegal immigrants while welcoming with open arms those who want to enter legally. 

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped simplify tax filing by creating a standard deduction that was generally much greater than what filers could create in itemized deductions. He most recently has been advocating for a national payroll tax cut. 

More Accomplishments

What else has he accomplished? Trump has defended the second amendment against the liberal left. He rolled back regulations that previously had handcuffed economic growth. He challenged and negotiated with China, North Korea, Canada, and Mexico by adhering to his America First theme. All of this and more is what he accomplished until February 19, 2020, when the Coronavirus hit. 

But wait, there’s more! Trump’s jobs program created more than 5 million jobs and took the unemployment rate below 4%. For the first time since 1970, unemployment for African Americans fell to 5.9%, the lowest on record. Asian and Hispanic American unemployment reached record lows as well. Job openings out-numbered unemployment for the first time on record. Women’s unemployment hit the lowest level in 65 years. Consumer confidence was at an 18-year high. 

American Manufacturing

He focused on and successfully started bringing back American manufacturing. President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the National Council for American workers. He negotiated a new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and issued tariffs against Cuba. 

What if Trump Wins the Election?

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are each promising sweeping progress over the next four years by taking starkly different paths. Like his many fellow Republicans, Trump holds out that tax reductions and regulatory cuts can promote economic growth. He frames himself as the conservative champion in our seemingly endless culture wars. President Trump is still fashioning himself as a D.C. outsider, a non-Washingtonian who has more swamp to drain and needs four more years to do it. 

What About Biden?

For his part, Biden sounds every bit like a democrat’s standard-bearer. He frames the federal government as a collective force to combat the Coronavirus, rebuild the economy, and address centuries of institutional racism and systematic inequalities. He believes that big government will always be the way to cure America’s ills, and voters will be forever grateful. Stated another way, why stand on your own two feet to build your success? Let the government do it for you. A veteran of national politics, Biden loves framing his deal, making past proof that he can do it again, only this time from the Oval Office.

Who to Choose?

It leaves Americans with an ambiguous choice. A look at where the rivals stand on the key issues is obviously essential. A decade’s low employment and a soaring stock market were Trump’s calling cards before the pandemic. While the stock market has recovered from its 35.5% peak to trough decline, the question is will the economy recover in the face of COVID-19? So which candidate do you feel has the best shot at tackling these issues, Biden or Trump? 

What Happens to the Economy if Trump Wins the Election?

Trump has predicted that the U.S. economy will rebound in the third and fourth quarters of this year and believes it will take off like a rocket ship in the new year. We all know how he loves to embellish. Trump bases his prediction on the assumption that a Coronavirus vaccine will be available in the 4th quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2021. Winning a second term and with a mandate from voters might be his best hope to getting it through. 

Biden Policies

Biden pitches sweeping federal action as necessary to avoid an extended recession or depression. He also intends to address the long-standing wealth inequality that affects non-white Americans. Biden wants $2 trillion to eliminate carbon pollution in the U.S. by 2035. He wants a government health insurance plan that’s open to all working-age Americans through generous subsidies. He also proposes new spending on education, infrastructure, and small business and raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour

Biden would cover some but not all of these expenses by rolling back Trump’s popular 2017 tax overhaul. Biden wants to increase the corporate income tax rate to 28% (lower than before, but higher than now) and create broad income and payroll tax hikes for individuals with more than $400,000 of annual taxable income. All of that would generate an estimated $4 trillion or more over ten years. Biden frames immigration as an economic matter as well. He wants to expand legal immigration slots and offer a citizenship path for about 11 million illegal residents illegally, but who are economic contributors as workers and consumers. 

Trump on Education

Trump has been a longtime proponent of charter schools and school voucher programs. He has suggested that families be allowed to take federal money allotted to school districts and allocate part of it to private schools. His administration has sought significant increases to federal charter school grant aid, but Congress has responded with relatively small increases. Trump has repeatedly complained that campuses are beset by radical left indoctrinations! He threatened to defund Universities, saying that he was having the Treasury Department re-examine tax-exempt status and federal funding of unspecified schools.

Biden on Education

Biden wants the federal government to partner with states to make public higher education tuition-free for any household earning up to $125,000 annually. The assistance would extend to everyone attending two-year schools, regardless of income. He also proposes sharply increasing aid for historically black colleges. His overall education plans carry a 10-year price tag of about $800 billion. 

He calls for universal access to pre-kindergarten programs for three and four-year-olds, tripling Title One spending for schools with a higher concentration of students from low-income households. He wants more support for non-classroom positions like on-campus social workers. Biden wants federal infrastructure spending for public school buildings and more money for schools that comply with federal disability laws. Biden opposes taxpayer money routed to for profit charter school businesses. He’s pledged that his Secretary of Education will have to have classroom teaching experience and health care experience. 

Trump on Health Care

Trump promised that he would immediately replace President Barack Obama’s health care law with a plan of his own that would provide insurance for everybody. In the last leg of his first term, Americans are still waiting for Trump to make his big reveal. 

Trump officials say the administration has made strides and championed transparency on hospital prices, pursuing a range of actions to curb prescription drug costs and expanding lower-cost health insurance alternatives for businesses and individuals. 

Biden on Health Care

On the other hand, Biden wants Medicare-like options to compete alongside private insurance markets for working-age Americans while increasing premium subsidies that many working-class and middle-class workers already have under the Affordable Care Act. An estimate is that all of this would cost about $750 billion over ten years. Biden sees his approach as the next step towards universal coverage, and he says he could get it through Congress. Here we go again!

What About COVID-19 if Trump Wins the Election?

Again, Trump is holding regular briefings to directly get his message out on the COVID-19 virus and other matters. Trump believes that entirely reopening schools is a key to economic recovery from the virus. According to a recent poll by the Associated Press, many Americans think daycare centers and preschools or K through 12 should open this fall without restrictions. Congress approved about $3 trillion in Coronavirus relief in March and April, and Democrats, Republicans, and the White House are negotiating another significant round of funding. 

Unfortunately, the package won’t include a payroll tax cut, something that Trump badly wanted. Biden draws some of his sharpest criticism in contrast with Trump on the pandemic, arguing that the presidency and federal government exists for such a crisis, not the governors of those infected states. He endorses generous federal spending to help businesses and individuals, along with state and local governments. Biden positioned that he would have the U.S. rejoin the World Health Organization. He’s also willing to use executive powers for a national mask mandate, even if its enforcement is highly impossible. 

What Happens to Trade if Trump Wins the Election?

China and NATO

Trump views the signing of two major trade deals with Mexico and Canada and the Phase One China agreement as one of the signature achievements of his presidency. U.S. and China signed Phase One in January, less than two months before the Coronavirus panic put an enormous strain on U.S.-Sino relations. Trump says Phase One led to China buying roughly $200 billion over two years in U.S. agricultural products, energy, and other American products. In return, the U.S. canceled planned U.S. tariffs on Chinese made smartphones, toys, and laptop computers. The U.S. also cut in half, to 7.5%, the tariff rate levied on $120 billion in other China imports.

The expectation is Phase Two of the deal is to focus on some tougher issues between the two countries. These include Trump’s wish to get China to stop subsidizing its state-owned enterprises. But for Trump, who has come to refer to the Coronavirus as the China Virus frequently, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to re-engage Beijing on trade effectively. 

Trump recently said he’s not interested in presently talking to China. Biden has joined a growing bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats in the discussion of a fair-trade deal. There have been decades of free trade talks with both Republicans and Democratic administrations alike in the past helped to expand international trade. But were the deals really good for America? 

Foreign Policy if Trump Wins the Election

During his first term, Trump built his foreign policy around the mantra America First. Besides the trade deals, he counts as a significant achievement building more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) of his promised wall along the U.S./Mexico border. 

He also got, for the first time, NATO to finally help pay for U.S. soldiers who protect Europe’s northern and eastern front. Thanks to President Trump, NATO members are fulfilling their pledge to spend 2% of their GDP on defense spending and reducing the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan and other hotspots. 

The Paris Climate Accord

He also announced his intention for a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. Trump can officially withdraw and very well may since the Accord sets the goal of holding global warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit as it disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries. The deal, which was signed by Obama stipulates that no nation can leave until four years after they sign on. For the U.S., that’s November 4, one day after that.

Afghanistan

The President has also made clear his desire to leave Afghanistan sooner than the timeline laid out in the February 29, 2020, peace agreement with the Taliban, which set forth the path for U.S. troops to leave the country in 12 to 14 months if the insurgent group meets certain conditions. There are currently about 8,600 US. troops in Afghanistan. 

North Korea

Trump also counts his engagement with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as an achievement. Though the President has not moved Kim to give up his nation’s nuclear program, he has met the autocrat twice for a face-to-face talk. 

Biden on Foreign Policy

Biden says he’d begin the day after the election to rebuild relations with allies ruffled by Trump’s approach. Biden’s top priority is re-establishing the foundation of NATO.

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

When I think about one of the genuinely great past Presidents, the name Ronald Reagan comes to mind. In one of his many famous speeches, he said, “as you are going to the polls to vote for our next president, ask yourself this question, “are you better off than you were four years ago?” No one could have predicted the devastating Coronavirus. If that virus had not attacked our country and the rest of the world, where would our economy be today? 

Bud Kasper, CFP®, AIF®

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