Friday, October 23, 2020

First presidential debate in the US: the main arguments

published on: 30/09/2020 5:53 PM

Review of the vulnerability of the vote by mail, the financial balance of Donald Trump, and the response to the coronavirus.

Last night the first presidential debate took place between the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. The candidates attacked and yelled at each other, but also made various relevant arguments for the November 3 elections that will be reviewed here.

Is the election vulnerable to vote-by-mail fraud?

Trump falsely claimed that vote-by-mail can imply a level of fraud “the likes of which has never been seen,” and Biden replied, “No one has established that there is fraud in mail-in ballots.” As AFP found, in May Ellen Weintraub of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC) said on Twitter that “there is no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail can lead to fraud.”

In September, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before a Senate commission stating that all election-related threats are taken “seriously.” “We have not, historically, seen any kind of coordinated effort at the national level to commit fraud in a major election, whether by mail or otherwise,” Wray said. Max Feldman, an electoral expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, told AFP: “Voting by mail has been a secure component of our electoral system for many years.”

The economic balance of Donald Trump

Trump claimed that his administration “built the best economy in history,” a claim he has repeated repeatedly since he has been in the White House. This is misleading: the president’s financial balance has been weighed down by the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Polls, however, continue to build a positive image when voters are asked who they trust most to create jobs and growth.

This is due to Trump’s image as a businessman, a tax cut, and a rise in stock markets, which boosts retirement accounts. Trump’s discourse on economics is prone to hype and hyperbole.

The Gross Domestic Product and the employment figures are the main indicators of the health of the economy. In Trump’s favor, unemployment hit a 50-year low in December 2019 when it stood at 3.5%. Between 2017 and 2019, the economy added 6.5 million jobs, compared to the more than eight million jobs created during the first three years of the Barack Obama administration. However, the crisis caused by the pandemic pulverized the labor market and in April the unemployment rate reached 14.7% and in August it was 8.4%.

The year of the Trump presidency in which the economy reached the greatest dynamism was 2018 when the economy expanded 3%. In 2015, the Obama administration achieved economic growth of 3.1%. In 2004 and 2005, during the government of Republican President George W. Bush, the economy grew by 3.8% and 3.5%, respectively.

Trump’s response to the coronavirus

Biden accused Trump of hiding the danger of the coronavirus, which is real. Trump told investigative journalist Bob Woodward in February 2020 that the virus was a “deadly thing.” The president knew the virus was dangerous, but did not admit it in his public statements and instead played down the risks.

On February 27, Trump said the risk to Americans was “very low” and that the number of cases was going to be close to zero. Then on March 9, he compared it to the common flu. Ten days later he told Woodward, ‘I always wanted to downplay it. I still like to minimize it, because I don’t want to create panic.

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