How the two campaigns differ on health policy, plans for child care, and violence against women.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump differ on just about every issue important to voters. That is especially true when it comes to policies that have a disproportionate effect on women. And as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the United States, the challenges that most often confront women–like child care, health care, and safety at home–are magnified.
Biden has a detailed vision that outlines what he wants to do when it comes to everything from expanding health insurance access to ensuring fair pay. In contrast, Trump has not outlined his policies for a second term.
But Trump’s past four years in office offer plenty of evidence of what a second Trump term would mean for women. Trump has worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a viable plan to replace it. Trump and Republican lawmakers have also worked against legislation that would help prevent violence against women after the NRA opposed it. And much more.
Below we review how Biden and Trump differ on policies that matter to women.
Health: Biden Helped Create the ACA and Trump Wants to Destroy It
Health care is perhaps where Trump and Biden differ the most. During his presidency, Trump has repeatedly worked to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a move that would significantly reduce health insurance coverage in the country by getting rid of health insurance exchanges. It would also significantly scale back Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for millions of Americans under age 65. Stripping funding from these programs, especially during the global pandemic, would spell disaster for millions of Americans.
Biden worked with President Obama to get the ACA over the finish line, and has pledged to build upon it as president, expanding health insurance coverage and lowering costs.
“The Biden health proposal includes multiple elements that would move significantly in the direction of universal health coverage, including lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and using a federal public option to lower costs in the individual market and to cover low-income people in states that have not expanded Medicaid,” Eliot Fishman, Senior Director of Health Policy at Families USA, a national, nonpartisan consumer healthcare advocacy organization, said in an interview with COURIER.
“[It would] also would finally allow for federal negotiation of drug prices and would act to prevent surprise medical bills. Women bear a disproportionate burden of health care costs, and these proposals would have a particularly positive impact for low and middle-income women.”
In addition to expanding access and lowering costs, Biden’s plan would also protect full reproductive health care for women and protect women’s right to choose. Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly backed anti-abortion groups during his time in office, and once said that women should be punished for getting an abortion.
Economy: Family and Medical Leave Mean Support for Families Under Biden’s Plans
Being able to work and take care of a family is a unique challenge in America, one of the only wealthy countries that does not offer paid leave to parents. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 25 million women provide support and caregiving to family members or friends.
Trump called for paid family leave in February, but his proposal would’ve required workers borrow from themselves to cover the time they take off for the birth of a new baby or an adoption of a child. It also wouldn’t have covered instances where a family member is sick, personal medical problems, or guarantee that a person’s job is protected when they take leave, according to the New York Times.
So far, there have been no clear plans from the Trump administration or his campaign on how he would tackle this problem if he were granted another four years in office.
Biden has pledged to give workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and improve access to child care.
“The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for women in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members,” Biden said in his outline of his policies.
Violence Against Women: Biden Will Close Dangerous Loopholes in the Violence Against Women Act
The United States has come a long way in codifying protections for women against violence, but there is still a long way to go. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) originally passed in 1994 and was sponsored by Biden when he was serving as a senator from Delaware. The law has to be reauthorized every six years, and it expired in February after the Republican Senate refused to pass it.
The sticking point was over closing what is known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows unmarried, intimate partners accused of domestic violence and stalkers to own a gun. The reauthorization would have closed this loophole, but the NRA opposed it. So the bill went nowhere.
President Trump did not weigh into the conversation over the Violence Against Women Act and there is no outlined plan to address it in the future.
Biden, however, has pledged to work to end violence against women, and continue improving upon the VAWA.
“The Biden/Harris Agenda for Women is everything violence prevention advocates could hope for,” Esta Soler, founder and president of Futures Without Violence, told COURIER. “It tackles the tough issues by ending the ‘boyfriend loophole’ that allows so many abusers to get and keep guns, supporting prevention and services for those in tribal communities, taking meaningful action to end the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color, and much more.”
“That’s not a surprise, because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have long been champions for nonviolence, respect and healing,” she added. “You asked what I’d like to see improved in the agenda but there isn’t anything. Their agenda is our agenda. We are convinced it will make our country safer for women and children.”
Child Care and Early Education: Trump and the GOP Won’t Fund Head Start
Child care providers, like almost every other industry in America, were hit hard by the pandemic. In one example, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) says it will need a total of $1.7 billion in additional funding to properly run its programs throughout the country.
But in the latest coronavirus relief package, President Trump and the Republican Senate left out funding for Head Start programs, in addition to other child care proposals included in House Democrats’ bill.
In contrast, Biden has a detailed plan to improve child care in America. He calls for equitable and affordable access to child care, and says it is critically important for children, working parents, and low-income families. Having adequate child care is also a big part in eliminating the wage gap between men and women.
“Head Start is encouraged that early childhood education is being discussed in such detail in the presidential campaign conversation,” said Robin Winchell who serves as director of public affairs for NHSA.
“We support proposals that draw from the strengths of the Head Start model: prioritizing the needs of children and families who are most at-risk; taking a comprehensive focus to meeting the full developmental needs of children, especially now in the COVID-19 era; and tailoring the design to the needs of local communities.”
Courier reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on this story but did not hear back.