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OPINION: Takeaways from the first presidential debate

The first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden and current incumbent President Donald J. Trump was moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, and allowed each candidate to spar head-to-head for the first time since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began.  

Though the debate is intended to inform the American people of the policy positions of each candidate, according to a CBS News poll, most viewers left frustrated and annoyed. 

The debate was organized into multiple sections. The sections were Trump and Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in American cities and the integrity of the election. 

Trump and Biden hold contrasting views on when the Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed. President Trump, who nominated Amy Coney Barrett, is attempting to confirm her before the election.  

President Trump supports her confirmation, as he said “we won the election, elections have consequences. We have the Senate, we have the White House.”  

However, former Vice President Biden believes that “we should wait and see what the outcome of this election.”  

This nomination has come across as controversial, as the Trump administration is seemingly attempting to rush through confirmation before the election with Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When former President Barack Obama attempted to confirm his nominee Merrick Garland, he was blocked by McConnell.  

“The American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” McConnell said in 2016, in response to blocking a vote to confirm Merrick Garland.  

Trump’s nominee comes as an attempt to pack the Supreme Court and to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), long heralded as one of Trump’s campaign goals.  

Repealing the ACA would strip nearly 30 million people of their health insurance, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute. Particularly in New Hampshire, the number of uninsured households would skyrocket by 190 %, or by 118,000.  

Biden has championed expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should he be elected, despite over 63% of Americans supporting a single-payer system, according to a poll from Pew Research. Over 88 % of Democrats support a single-payer system.  

“I am the Democratic Party,” Biden said, as his platform is what the Democratic establishment champions. Biden’s position on expanding the ACA is in stark contrast to many prospective Democratic voters, who overwhelmingly support a single-payer, Medicare for all system. 

Biden has vowed to veto Medicare for All, even if it makes it to his desk. In an interview with MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, Biden said “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now.” Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, where over 5.4 million lost their marketplace insurance according to a study by Families USA, Biden would still maintain the mutual connection between employment and healthcare.  

Trump has yet to release his healthcare plan and replacement to ACA.  

COVID-19 has become a thorn in the side of the Trump administration, with President Trump opposing a national mask mandate and opposed wearing a mask until July of 2020. President Trump shamed Biden about his ubiquitous mask usage.  

“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him he’s got a mask, he can’t be speaking, 200 feet away from when he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” said Trump. 

The President sparingly wears a mask, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to ubiquitous mask usage preventing COVID-19 cases.  

Researchers at HealthAffair found that mask mandates led to a “marked slowdown in the daily growth rate” with estimates that mask mandates may have prevented “up to 450,000 cases of COVID-19.”  

Trump has repeatedly opposed a national lockdown, delegating responsibility for containment to the state governments. Many nations such as South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong who have habitual mask usage only dealt with temporary and targeted economic shutdowns, unlike the United States, which has a patchwork of regulations with over 25 % of the global deaths from COVID-19.  

COVID-19 has devastated the United States economy, with a report from the Economic Impact Report stating over 60% of small businesses are slated to shut down due to COVID-19.  

Though the economy has recovered somewhat, even after the Federal Reserve loaned over $1 trillion a day in April to big banks, and numerous large businesses and numerous large businesses like the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans intended for small businesses, many are still struggling. The extended unemployment of $600 per week expired on July 26, and Americans have lost their extended unemployment of $300 per week as of Sept. 5.  

Americans have yet to receive a second stimulus check of $1200, and real unemployment remains at 23.9% according to the US Department of Labor.  

Meanwhile, France has committed to paying over 84% of employee’s salaries that remain unemployed for up to two years to void mass layoffs, according to the Financial Times.  

Even still, President Trump is satisfied with his efforts in mitigating a massive economic downturn due to COVID-19.  

“[I have] the greatest economy in history and we closed it down because of the China plague.” 

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