Between Biden and Trump, who should Europe vote for?

If the European population were to choose the President of the United States, it is likely that the majority would vote Biden only to eliminate Trump. But there are other reasons to consider.

Seen from Europe, the American elections seem more and more disconcerting. In 2016, the preference went to Hillary Clinton, half-heartedly, because it seemed important to bar the road to a rude and uneducated Donald Trump whose one wondered how he had gotten the Republican nomination.

This year, the Republicans could not avoid investing the incumbent president and, facing him, the Democrats have found no better than to side with a bland 77-year-old Joe Biden who has been chasing the post since 1988. Don't the American political class have other important personalities on one side or the other?

Trump's big hit: The economy

As in 2016, the preference on our side of the Atlantic seems to go mainly to Joe Biden because the major danger seems to be a second term for Donald Trump. In fact, the doubts which one could have on the capacity of this last to occupy the function of president of the first world power have proved perfectly justified. On the surface, he seems to have succeeded on one point: the economy.

Until this spring, he could hope to be reappointed thanks to his record, with an unemployment rate firmly anchored below 4% of the working population. As the OECD pointed out, “in 2019, economic expansion and the uninterrupted succession of monthly job gains became the longest that the country has seen [...]. The strength of the labor market gradually encouraged those who found themselves on the fringes of this market to join it. These substantial job gains and the gradual increase in real wages have helped boost household incomes, putting an end to the previous trend of stagnation in median real income. ” For over twenty years, it seemed that growth only benefited the richest; there, even low wages progressed.

This success must however be put into perspective. The reduction in corporate and top income taxes may have had a beneficial effect on growth, but it does not explain everything: the accommodative monetary policy led by the Federal Reserve, yet constantly criticized by Donald Trump has also played a significant role. And this fiscal policy has had significant side effects: the increase in the budget deficit and the increase in inequalities. The pandemic suddenly broke a movement which, anyway, was starting to run out of steam.

With China, inconclusive results

On virtually every other point, this mandate has been a disaster. Donald Trump could be credited with the way he attacked China, whose will to power is beginning to worry beyond the circle of its closest neighbors. But the way he did it is totally ineffective. He first began, barely installed in the White House, by disengaging the United States from the trans-Pacific partnership agreement wanted and signed by Barack Obama, which aimed to integrate the economies of the Asia Pacific zone and the North America in order to unite them against China. This agreement entered into force without the United States, which takes away much of its interest.

Generally speaking, Donald Trump has never thought in terms of alliances and international coordination, while China has a very active economic diplomacy; it knows how to create links with the countries which it thinks it needs for various reasons (access to raw materials, labor, technical skills or commercial outlets) and to play on rivalries between them.

Trump's contempt for international organizations and treaties signed by his predecessors is damaging to everyone.

Despite shattering announcements, the main effect of which was to stir up trouble in the world economy, the results obtained are hardly convincing and the provisional agreement signed at the start of the year with Beijing does not resolve anything. The only virtue of this policy may have been to disinhibit Europe and encourage it to be firmer towards China as well. But the pandemic, by highlighting our dependence on this country, has played an even more important role on this point.

On September 15, the World Trade Organization ruled against the United States and ruled that the tariff increases applied to products from China were not justified. This decision can only reinforce Donald Trump's contempt for international organizations and the treaties signed by his predecessors - in particular Barack Obama. This is obviously harmful for everyone when it comes to organizing international trade.

It is even more so when it comes to the Paris agreement, which Donald Trump denounced as climate changes confirm the fears of scientists and each lost year worsens the problems to come.

Candidate without program

What would Donald Trump do if he was re-elected? We do not know and it is feared that he does not know it either. It has no program and the Republican Party has not seen fit to update its. The only text published by the president-candidate consists of about fifty more or less precise objectives without any indication on how to achieve them, and the details announced are still pending.

How would Trump II manage to create ten million jobs in ten months and a million small businesses? The mystery remains three weeks before the election. The president is too busy making his own Covid-19 survivor panegyric, talking about order and security and chatting about “Sleeping Joe”.

In short, nothing allows to consider with serenity his possible renewal in his functions and obviously, his past action proves it, the American population would not be the only one to suffer from a second mandate of "Donald the clown" - to use the sympathetic nickname that his opponent gave him during their first debate. It remains to be seen whether, for us, the election of Joe Biden could be a genuinely positive event, beyond the relief one might feel in seeing a downright loathsome individual leave.

Taxation at the heart of the debate

A first element pleads in favor of the Democratic candidate: he has a program, which can be viewed on his campaign site! The essential points in economic matters concern taxation: Joe Biden wants to increase taxes to give himself the means to finance the actions he wants to undertake and reduce social inequalities.

Donald Trump had lowered the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, he wants to raise it to 28%. Donald Trump had reduced the tax rate of the highest bracket (from $ 400,000 in annual income for a single person) from 39.6% to 37%, he wants to reduce it again to 39.6% and tax the financial incomes of those who earn more than $ 1 million at the same level as their wage incomes instead of a flat rate of 23.8%.

The accusation of leftism is all the more ridiculous given that Joe Biden was elected to Delaware in the Senate, a state known to be a tax haven.

We can observe that these plans for an increase are far from marking a turning point towards socialism, as Donald Trump asserts, since it is in fact simply a question of returning to the previous situation. And we cannot accuse Joe Biden of being under the thumb of the left wing of his party: the programs developed by other candidates for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in particular, were much more radical. This summer, the discussions that the invested candidate had with his unfortunate rivals may have suggested a hardening of his program to attract to him the most marked voters on the left; in fact, the cursor has not been moved much.

The accusation of leftism is all the more ridiculous with regard to Joe Biden since, from 1973 to 2009, he was elected to the Senate of Delaware, a state known to be a tax haven, and this did not mean it. never really embarrassed. Small reminder: at the time of the 2016 campaign, journalists were able to establish that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had at least one thing in common: companies registered at the same address in Wilmington, Delaware ...

Positive signal

Obviously, this tax program concerns, for the most part, the American population only. But it would not be indifferent for the rest of the world that the first power imposes more the highest incomes and the companies: at a time when the States must mobilize large financial means to face enormous health needs, education, energy transition, etc., it is important to put a stop to the race for the lowest tax budget.

Everywhere, we see budget deficits widening as a result of the efforts made to limit the negative impact of the measures taken to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, it is necessary to know how to temporarily accept these deficits, but it is clear that States cannot continue on the path of lowering taxes for those, individuals or companies, who could contribute the most to the collective effort.

    Compared to Trump, who has not stopped relaxing the rules for protecting the environment, the change of course would be very clear.

Likewise, Joe Biden sends a very positive signal by committing to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement and to campaign at the international level for each State to raise its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. . And he warns: "We can no longer separate our trade policy from our climate goals." Like Europe, he wants his country to aim for carbon neutrality by 2050 and wants this objective to be achieved with regard to electricity production from 2035.

For this, he proposes to invest 2,000 billion dollars during his mandate. Admittedly, his Green New Deal may appear less tonic than the radical project of Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: he carefully avoids talking about a carbon tax and refuses to ban the extraction of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing. But, compared to the Trump administration, which has not stopped relaxing the rules for protecting the environment - the last measures in this direction date from mid-August, in the midst of an election campaign - the change in cap would be very clear.

Foreign policy scholars agree on one point: the tendency of the United States to withdraw into itself, already initiated under the Obama presidency, should not be called into question and, in his own way, Joe Biden defends also an “America great again”. He would not necessarily be a very convenient partner and would strongly defend the interests of American companies. But better a tough interlocutor who knows what he wants and where he is going, than an unpredictable president who does not respect his partners or the rules of the game and changes position according to his moods.

Wall Street is getting impatient

This last trait could also cost Donald Trump his re-election, judging by the reaction of financial circles. In 2016, Wall Street showed a clear preference for Hillary Clinton, which allowed billionaire Trump to denounce her as the establishment candidate. However, the rallying to the latter was rapid: it only took a few hours. On November 9, the day of the announcement of his victory, some predicted a fall in the stock market, it was a surge. It was the start of a stock rally that took the US indexes from record highs until this year. Whatever the man, his tax cuts are appreciated.

Joe Biden's tax plans, a priori, work against him. But Wall Street could welcome his victory, because the behavior of Donald Trump currently worries him deeply. The angry subject? The adoption by Congress of a new plan to support the economy that almost everyone considers necessary. There was disagreement this summer on the amount of this plan: Democrats wanted $ 2,000 billion, Republicans wanted to stay at $ 1,000 billion. Then an agreement seemed to be able to be made at around 1,500 billion, with the blessing of Trump. But in recent days, the president has multiplied contradictory statements.

When he was released from the hospital, he seems to have realized he was badly placed in the polls and was in danger of defeat. Accepting a vote on a plan to support the economy struck him as a bad idea: it could be credited to the Democrats. On October 6, by one of his tweets of which he has the secret, he asks the Republicans to break off the negotiations.

Then he understands that all the people who have lost their jobs and are counting on federal state aid would not forgive him a sudden stop of this aid for lack of an agreement. From the 7th, he lets it be known that he is ready to sign:

 

However, its agreement appears to be limited to aid for airlines, individuals and SMEs; it would no longer be a comprehensive plan. On the 8th, he gave Fox News a long interview even less structured than those he usually gave and, the next day, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, asked for the formation of a commission to investigate his capacity. to lead the United States.

We can guess how Trump greeted this announcement ... He did, however, come up with a $ 1.8 trillion plan, which was both refused by Democrats and Republicans, and then on Sunday the 11th a plan limited to aid to SMEs. What does he really want and does the Democratic camp, which feels the wind in its sails, really want to reach an agreement before the elections?

Biden would need a clear-cut victory

In such a climate, it is very difficult to formulate a prognosis. Someone close to the White House suggests that everything is still possible, the stock market is rising; this prospect seems to be receding, it is declining. Convinced that strong government action is needed to revive the machine, the financial community seems ready to celebrate Joe Biden if he obtains clear and indisputable success and if the Democrats obtain in Congress, particularly in the Senate where everything is will play, a majority allowing them to implement their program.

The questions currently facing Wall Street seem to correspond quite well to the sentiment of a significant part of the population: why not Joe Biden, if we have a clear political line and rapid support for the economy?

Since the surprise of 2016, we know that we must be wary of the polls, but a victory for Joe Biden and the Democrats seems very likely. The big question is whether this victory can be clear enough not to be followed by a period of contestation, confusion and power paralysis. The people of the country would not be the only ones to gain. This would be good news for the rest of the world - except perhaps for the Chinese leaders, who have every interest in having their great rival presided over for another four years by a man with no long-term vision and no real understanding of the situation.

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