Oct 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump doesn't have a second-term economic plan

Illustration of an empty blueprint surrounded by God rays. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump has not laid out an economic agenda for his second term, despite the election being just eight days away.

Why it matters: This is unprecedented in modern presidential campaigns, and makes it harder for undecided voters to make an informed choice.

Trump's campaign website doesn't include a section on forward-looking policies, including the economy. Instead, it only lists first-term accomplishments.

  • Trump's 2016 campaign website had a "positions" section that included economic priorities like boosting GDP to 3.5% per year and a "penny plan" to reduce annual spending. He also made several speeches focused on the economy.
  • Joe Biden's campaign site has a section on economic policy. So did the campaign sites of Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, John McCain, George W. Bush, and John Kerry.
  • The Trump campaign did send an August email with a few top-line economic agenda items, including the expansion of opportunity zones, but with precious few specifics. The Tax Foundation called it "light on details" and noted that Trump and his advisers "vaguely called for several other policies."

Many economists have analyzed Biden's economic plans, including on taxes and spending, to predict how it would impact everything from GDP to jobs. But they've been unable to do the same with Trump's plan, because there is none.

  • The conservative-learning American Enterprise Institute recently published a 12-page analysis of Biden's tax plan, finding that it "would increase taxes, on average, for the top 5% of households and reduce taxes on households in the bottom 95 percent."
  • That report's author, Kyle Pomerleau, told the Axios Re:Cap podcast: "I will release an analysis of Trump's proposals once he releases proposals. So far the Trump administration has not put forth detailed tax policy proposals for a second term so we really don't know exactly what he would do."
  • The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The bottom line: Trump talks a lot about regaining economic momentum lost due to the pandemic, so it's reasonable to assume he'd seek to maintain the status quo on things like taxes and regulation. And he has occasionally mentioned his desire for a "big middle-class tax cut." What such cuts would look like, however, is unclear without a plan.

Go deeper: Where Trump stands on his economic promises

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