With just over five weeks left until election day, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Today, we are talking about issues that matter the most to all of us. Let’s face it, we need to stop talking about how awful Donald Trump is and focus on how much better Joe Biden will be. It’s true that we must be concerned with voting Trump out of office before he turns this nation into a dictatorship, but it’s not enough just to throw out the bad … we must know what we are replacing it with.
There are dozens of issues that are important, but we really want to focus on the ones that are most important to everyone. After giving it much thought, and narrowing the list, Jeff and I believe the following are of the most immediate concern:
- Climate change
- Health Care
- Racial Justice
- Income Inequality
There are many other issues, such as gun control, campaign finance, immigration, infrastructure, the economy, criminal justice, and more. But, given the constraints of time, we will focus on the ones that affect every one of our lives, and that have long-term implications that will affect not only us, but future generations – our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the future. We will cover the first two today, and the other three soon.
No matter how important the other issues are, climate change must, in the long run, be the most important. Climate deniers may argue that we are being alarmists, doomsday prophets, but scientists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are bringing about their own demise every day. We can see the results with our own eyes – the worst ever destructive wildfires on the West Coast, the most active hurricane season on record, and record high heat & humidity in many areas.
Biden has made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure.
The money, which would be spent over four years, would go toward energy efficiency upgrades, the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and greatly increasing the share of renewable energy from wind, solar and other technologies in America’s power sector.
His plan calls for ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035. By no later than 2050, he would bring the country to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases under the plan.
Biden has also promised to restore all environmental protections undone by the Trump administration and rejoin the Paris climate agreement, committing to the pact’s goal of preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
“Climate change is a challenge that’s going to define our American future. I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet … We’re not just going to tinker around the edges.”
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has unraveled nearly every climate regulation that was put in place by the Obama administration, in part because of his unrelenting hatred of President Obama, and in part because of his financial ties to the fossil fuel and logging industries. Just yesterday it was announced that Trump plans to eliminate protections for the Tongass Forest in Alaska and open it to logging! Joe Biden will not put profit ahead of the planet.
His administration has weakened limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, as well as from the oil and gas industry. It has opened more public land to oil and gas drilling and limited wildlife protections. And it has relaxed pollution regulations on coal-fired power plants in an effort to revive the dying industry. Donald Trump’s actions, if allowed to continue, will ensure the end of the human and many other species by the end of this century.
California’s environmental protections have been a particular target for Trump. The Trump administration has revoked the state’s authority to set tougher car emission standards than those required by the federal government, placing a major obstacle in California’s path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
I think Trump summed up his view on climate change when he said …
“People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it. I don’t think science knows.”
Need I say more?
When the Affordable Care Act was put in place in 2010 during the Obama administration, it was a historic step that provided affordable health insurance to approximately a third of the people in this nation who had previously been unable to afford it. Was it perfect? No, of course not … we all knew it would require adjusting and tweaking as time went by and problems arose, but it was a start, the first step toward a universal health care plan. Joe Biden’s healthcare plan includes building on the foundation of the original ACA, as well as including an expansion of the public option.
Specifically, he would create a new government insurance plan to be sold on the ACA markets. The 2 million or so people currently stuck in the Medicaid expansion gap would be automatically enrolled, for free. Obamacare’s tax credits would be enhanced, pegged to more generous insurance, and eligibility for government assistance would be available to anybody. Nobody would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on insurance premiums. And nobody would be excluded on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
In addition to restoring and improving on the Affordable Care Act, Biden has a plan to lower prescription drug costs, starting with repealing the exception that prohibits drug corporations from negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Prescription drugs in the U.S. are, on average, 3.7 times higher than the combined average of other countries. Think about that one … while someone in Canada might be paying $50 for a prescription, you are paying $185!
By comparison, Donald Trump has stated since before his election in 2016 that he wanted to reverse ACA in its entirety. Since he has been unable to do that, he has instead undermined and chipped away at portions of it. There is currently a case pending in the Supreme Court that would completely abolish ACA, and while Trump claims he will present an even better plan, there is no evidence that he could or would.
No discussion on health care would be complete without addressing the coronavirus pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 207,000 people in this nation, the highest death toll of any nation on the planet. With a surge in cases predicted in the coming months, experts predict we will have more than 300,000 deaths by the end of the year. Trump’s response has been “it is what it is”, and more recently he claims that the coronavirus “affects almost nobody”. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan.
On his first day in office, he plans to reverse the withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO). He plans to call for a national ‘mask mandate’, and meanwhile urges governors of all states to implement mask mandates for their states. He would adopt nationwide testing and contact tracing, including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites and providing federal funding for “regular and reliable covid-19 testing for every worker called back on the job.”
He plans to restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was established by the Obama-Biden Administration and eliminated by Trump in 2018. The thing, though, that I think is most important about Biden’s approach to the coronavirus is that he plans to listen to the scientists. These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to studying diseases such as the coronavirus, SARS, HIV, Ebola and other infectious diseases … they know what they are doing, and Joe Biden recognizes this, whereas Donald Trump says “I don’t think science knows.”
I realize that what I have written about Biden’s stance on these issues is necessarily somewhat vague, but to drill down to details would require far more than there is time for. However, feel free to visit the Biden/Harris campaign website for further details. Perhaps the biggest difference between Joe Biden’s plan and Donald Trump’s is that Biden actually has a plan, whereas Trump seems to wing it from one day to the next. Joe Biden is a decent man who actually cares about the people of this nation. Donald Trump is not and does not.
Next week, Jeff will be writing about the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how it could affect the November election. We will cover other election issues, as I mentioned in the beginning, in future posts, as well as numerous other topics … well, as many as we can squeeze into the next five weeks!
Note that in order to make it easier to find past articles, we have divided the Table of Contents into two — Discord & Dissension, with all of our posts from January thru May, and America’s Wake-Up Call, with our current posts.