The Morning Brief – 10.23.20

By Bruce Carson

NATIONAL ISSUES

The Presidential Debate

There actually was one—perhaps Wrestlemania II will have to wait for the period between November 4 and January 20, 2021, Inauguration Day

Arguably both candidates did what they needed to do in a more civilized manner, than in debate one

General Comments

The fact that last evening was a substantial improvement over the first debate rests mainly with the moderator Kristen Welker of NBC, the threat of the buzzer cutting off candidates who went over the allotted two minutes and the moderator’s tight control over the debate; she never lost control.

Voters are probably better informed now as to the policy differences between the two candidates and their approaches to the issues.

Anyone tuning in to this debate as one of the 5% of voters who remain undecided should engage in some serious fact checking before determining to support one candidate or the other.

Those undecided, who are leaning towards voting for Biden may have been convinced to vote for him and the same applies to those who are leaning towards supporting Trump.

Biden did in some of his answers attempt to look forward to what his presidency would do for Americans while Trump seemed quite content to look backwards continually admonishing Biden for accomplishing little in his 47 years in office and particularly during his time as Vice President.

The recent controversy involving Biden’s son Hunter did not punch through to the extent it might have as it seemed to get lost in the accusations between Trump and Biden as to who had benefitted the most financially from relationships with China, Russia and Ukraine.

Although it was not new, Biden’s assertion that under his administration the United States would be transitioning off oil and gas with it be replaced by renewables seemed to catch Trump by surprise and this statement by Biden will probably find its way into an attack ad.

Biden was still standing at the end of the evening having not committed any discernable gaffes and his statement that we are all Americans, not people who are defined by being in Blue or Red states were positive.

Trump’s advisors must be wondering where the race would stand now, had Trump adopted last evening’s attitude for the first debate as Trump clearly lost ground after the first debate.


On the Topics


COVID-19:

There was little new in the approach of both candidates with Trump claiming that a vaccine is coming along with therapeutics. He acknowledged that there were spikes in cases but claimed that without his actions 2.2 million Americans would have died but assumed no blame or responsibility for the over 220,000 who have perished. China was blamed by Trump.

Biden responded with present statistics and prediction that by the end of the year another 200,000 may be dead.

They differed over whether the economy should be shut down with Trump arguing that it should be open with schools opened and Biden arguing that it should be shut down in hot spots with aid from Congress.

Trump however, can’t escape the statements of his lack of early action contained in the Woodward book.


National Security:

This section began with a discussion over recent allegations that Iran and Russia were interfering in this election. Biden said he would put an end to this by ensuring that those who interfere “will pay a price” for interfering with American sovereignty. No suggestion as to what that price may be. Biden asked why is it that Trump won’t talk to Putin about this?

Trump turned this segment into an attack on Biden and countries that may be lining Biden’s pockets and Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukraine and China. Biden denied any wrongdoing.

The recently discovered Trump China bank account was dismissed by Trump saying he closed it before running for office and that he has bank accounts all over the place.

On foreign policy Biden talked about Trump embracing the thugs of the world, Kim Jong-un and Putin. Biden said that as president he would ensure that China plays by the rules. He would also work to ensure the safety of South Korea.

Trump claimed success for his policy on North Korea because there has been no war even though more deadly missiles have been developed. He described Obama’s policies on North Korea to be a “mess.”


American Families and Economy:

This segment dealt with the Affordable Care Act. Trump claims it is “no good” and he has a plan to replace it. Biden outlined how he would change the Act. Biden noted that all the people who have contracted COVID-19 now have pre-existing conditions. He added that affordable health care should be viewed as a right while saying that Trump believes health care is a privilege. Biden argued that Trump has no plan.

The question was put by the moderator as to what is to be done concerning the 12 million unemployed and those who fallen into poverty. Biden and Trump argued over the latest support plan which is held up in Congress. Trump made it clear that he was not going to bail out Blue states which gave Biden an opening to say that he “sees Americans not Red or Blue States.” He repeated this comment at the end of the debate.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing exchanges came on immigration and the fact there are 500 children who have yet to be reunited with their parents. Biden said this makes the U.S. a laughing stock and violates every notion of who we are. Trump said we now have a strong border and the children are well taken care of.

Biden said he would draft legislation that would deal with the dreamers. Trump responded with a comment that he went back to a number of times; Biden had eight years and did nothing.


Race in America:

Biden began by talking about institutional racism in America and the need to provide better schools, better opportunities and opportunities for wealth creation for victims of racism. Biden accused Trump of pouring fuel on racism and doing nothing for the Black community. He added that Trump’s “dog whistle is as big as a foghorn.”

Trump responded with an attack on Biden for his support of the 1994 Crime Act. Trump reiterated his claim that no president except possibly Lincoln has done more for the Black community than he has. He also said that he is the “least racist person in this room.”

When Biden talked about introducing legislation to end mandatory minimums, again Trump came back with why didn’t you do that when you had 8 years in office? Trump labelled Biden a “corrupt politician” adding Biden is all talk no action; “you got nothing done.”


Climate Change:

Trump talked about planting a trillion trees and that he loves the environment, clean air and clean water. Carbon emissions are, he claimed, lower than they have been in 35 years. He also referred to his role in ending the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Paris Agreement was unfair to the U.S. and benefitted China, Russia and India, and that is why he pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Biden said that “global warming is an existential threat to humanity.” He spoke of creating millions of jobs through green energy. Trump argued that Biden’s plan will cost $100 trillion, which Biden denied.

Trump focussed on the fact that the U.S. is now energy independent and once again misstated Biden’s plan for fracking.

The last part of this segment dealt with Biden’s plan to transition away from oil and gas over time and get to net zero emissions. Biden also said he was against providing subsidies to the oil and gas industry. As noted earlier this seemed to catch Trump by surprise and no doubt  Trump’s opposition to this plan will become a major part in a Trump stump speech.


Leadership:

The question here was what will you say to Americans on Inauguration Day to unite them after a divisive campaign?

Trump responded that before the plague the U.S. had the best employment numbers, and “success will bring us together.” He added that Biden will increase taxes.

Biden responded that he will represent all Americans, choosing hope over fear, moving forward on the economy and clean energy. He will bring the country together.

Both answers typify each candidate’s approach to governing and the role of the president.

To Come


October 24
  • B.C. provincial election
October 26
  • Saskatchewan provincial election
  • Federal by-elections
October 28
  • Bank of Canada deals with interest rates and releases its Monetary Policy Report
October 30
  • GDP n umbers for August to be released

The Morning Brief returns on Wednesday, October 28.

– BC