As we near the 2020 election, here's where the candidates stand on health care, child care, family leave, education, cost of college, disability programs, and gun control.

By Libby Ryan
Updated September 29, 2020
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As the 2020 election approaches, the United States is months into pandemic life, and it feels like the country is at a tipping point.

The coronavirus crisis has highlighted long-simmering problems lurking beneath the surface of American society. Half of working Americans say a major medical event could bankrupt them, much less a medical emergency such as serious side effects from COVID-19. The majority of children who die from the coronavirus are children of color, highlighting dangerous racial inequities in the country. More than half of American families spend at least $10,000 every year on child care and many can’t even find affordable options during the pandemic.

The next president will determine how the U.S. addresses these concurrent emergencies—so it’s crucial to know where each candidate stands. We broke down what President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden each plan to do about seven pressing parenting issues: health care, child care, family leave, education, cost of college, disability programs, and gun control.

Your vote matters and here’s what a vote for either Trump or Biden means for your family and families around the country.

Health Care

Trump: Trump recently announced his vision for health care through an executive order, which says it will protect Americans with pre-existing health conditions. However, the existing Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, already ensures those protections for pre-existing conditions. But the Trump administration campaigned in 2016 on repealing the ACA and is currently trying to strike down the law in the Supreme Court.

The executive order also included a call for Congress to act on "surprise billing," where patients get an out-of-network bill for care outside of their control, such as an in-network doctor sending tests to an out-of-network laboratory. The order would also send discount cards for prescription medications to seniors, but the Trump administration has not released any specific plans for how this would be carried out or funded. 

Trump’s 2021 budget also included cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Biden: Building off the existing ACA, Biden plans to give families more choice in their health insurance options. Parents can choose private insurance, insurance through their employer, or use a new public option that would function similar to Medicare. He would limit health care costs so that families would not have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on health insurance. Biden also plans to give low-income families premium-free access to that public option, since not all states give families equal access to Medicare.

Biden also says he will ban health care providers from “surprise billing." His administration would also fund extended health care programming, including special focuses on mental health, maternity mortality, and opioid addiction, by raising taxes on all Americans who make more than $1 million a year.

Child Care

Trump: Trump has yet to release a specific child care plan for his potential second term in office, but his 2021 budget included a one-time $1 billion allocation for child care funding and his 2020 budget also put $1 billion toward low-income child care costs. 

Biden: Allocating $775 billion to expanding access and lowering the cost of caregiving—both for children and sick or elderly family members—Biden wants to invest in workplace child care facilities and increase after school programming. He also plans to create universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. Biden would implement tax credits to reimburse families who make less than $125,000 a year for up to 50 percent of their child care costs. Families who make more would receive a partial credit.

Biden also plans to support “informal” caregivers, AKA parents who are not getting paid for their caregiving, through a $5,000 tax credit.

Family Leave

Trump: Trump called for a version of paid family leave in his 2020 State of the Union address. The bipartisan parental leave bill that Trump supports gives parents the choice to use child tax credits they'd usually get later in their kids' lives at the time of birth in order to take unpaid leave. Then, they would take a smaller child tax credit for the next 10 to 15 years.

Biden: The Biden administration plans ensure 12 weeks of paid family leave for all workers, whether parents want to use the leave for caring for a newborn, new adopted or foster child, or other family member who is ill.

Education

Trump: President Trump's education goals focus on expanding school choice but has not provided specific policy plans for a second term. Trump has also recently said that one of his priorities in a second term would be to “Teach American Exceptionalism,” according to his campaign website. This would mean framing curriculum around the “miracle of American history," instead of investigating the U.S.’s complicated history which includes slavery, colonialism, and inequality. 

Biden: A Biden administration would focus on ending the education gap between rich and poor school districts by tripling funding for schools serving a high number of low-income families. Biden says he plans to increase teacher diversity (as well as increase public teacher salaries), and to increase diversity in schools, closing funding gaps between primarily white school districts and districts with primarily students of color. Biden also aims to double the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools.

Cost of College

Trump: Trump has not released specific plans around the cost of college for his second term, but his recent federal budget proposed cutting $5 billion in student loan funding next year and more than $60 billion over the next five years. These cuts would limit loan forgiveness programs for graduates become public servants, subsidized lending for low-income students, and federal work-study programs.

Student loan repayment plans currently require borrowers to pay around 10 percent of their income toward their loans. In his 2021 budget proposal, Trump would require that amount to be 12.5 percent payment of borrowers’ income. Trump’s student loan repayment plan would forgive outstanding debt after 15 years for undergraduate loans and after 30 years for graduate loans.

Biden: Under a Biden administration, two years of community college and many vocational programs would be free. For families making less than $125,000, tuition at public colleges and universities would also be free.

Biden’s student loan repayment plan would require borrowers to pay 5 percent of their income toward their student loans, and for those who earn less than $25,000 per year, no payments would be required. After 20 years of repayment, the remainder of borrowers’ loans would be forgiven.

Gun Control

Trump: Trump’s plans for a second term include his intent to “support the exercise of Second Amendment rights,” according to his campaign website. In past statements, Trump has supported expanding background checks on gun sales but has not put forward any specific plans. Trump has also been vocal about supporting arming teachers as a solution to school shootings.

Biden: Biden plans to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and says he will create a buy-back program to pay people for their weapons or help them register them (similar to how machine guns or silencers are registered). He also plans to begin universal background checks for any gun purchases and ban online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Biden also plans to allocate $50 million for gun violence research and will also increase funding for mental health services. He also says that he will ban federal funding from going toward arming or training “educators to discharge firearms,” according to his campaign website. 

Disability Programs

Trump: The Trump administration does not have specific plans for disability policy published in its second-term agenda.

Biden: Biden plans to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and intends to work with the Department of Education to make sure public school teachers are trained to support students with disabilities. He will also allocate $100 billion to improve schools, including updating schools to make sure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (as well as increase ADA-compliant accessibility on public transportation and in public buildings).

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