Infrastructure spending: Trump has long promised significant infrastructure spending, but thus far his Administration has not produced a comprehensive infrastructure spending law, and no such program is formalized in any Plan he has released via campaign documents. Although he has tweeted about a “big and bold” $2.0 trillion spending plan, his FY 2021 budget allocates only $75 billion for increasing surface transportation spending through a highway bill reauthorization, $190 billion for other infrastructure investments such as bridges and freight, and $9 billion for a capital fund for infrastructure investments. The Biden Plan proposes a $2 trillion package for roads and bridges, public transit, the power sector, the automobile industry (including charging stations for electric vehicles), and upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over 4 years – all with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as the long term goal.
Minimum Wage: During the October 22 Presidential debate, Biden supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. Trump responded “I think it should be a state option. Alabama is different than New York. New York is different from Vermont. Every state is different.” When pressed on the subject by the moderator, Trump said he would consider raising the federal minimum wage if given a second term, but gave no specifics.
Independent Contractor vs. Employee: The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that would make it easier to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which prescribes minimum wage and overtime rules for employees. The rule would test whether a worker is in business for himself or herself (independent contractor) or is economically dependent on a putative employer for work (employee), by focusing on the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. Biden pledges to stop the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, and favors implementing California’s “ABC” test on a national level.
Paid Leave: as part of his Build Back Better program, Biden supports 12 weeks of paid leave if a worker or a family member has a serious health condition. Trump has signed legislation giving federal workers paid leave as well as emergency legislation for paid leave for COVID-related absences (the latter will expire at the end of 2020), but he has advanced no current proposal for paid leave generally.
Funding Social Security: Biden proposes that the 12.4 percent payroll tax which funds Social Security – half of which is paid by employers and half paid by employees – be levied on the first $400,000 of income (currently the taxable maximum is $137,700, increasing annually at the rate of wage growth). In an August 12 news conference Trump announced his intention to replace the Social Security payroll tax with revenues drawn from the general tax fund, almost all of which is furnished by income taxes.
Foreign Trade: Trump’s tariffs on Chinese and other foreign imports have made not only consumer goods more expensive, but inputs as well, particularly steel and aluminum. He has said that he will maintain tariffs in a second term. Biden has hinted that his administration would eliminate them – but as they benefit organized labor, a key base for him, Biden will find it hard to scrap tariffs on steel and aluminum. Trump’s and Biden’s positions on Buy American are also similar.
Right to Work: So-called “Right to Work” laws forbidding labor unions from charging dues or “agency fees” to non-members are in place in 27 states (not including New Hampshire). In February Trump promised to veto the “PRO Act” which would have preempted these laws – a promise that was instrumental in Trump’s endorsement by Associated Builders and Contractors. Meanwhile, Biden pledges to “repeal the Taft-Hartley provisions that allow states to impose right to work laws.”