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Presidential candidates: What are their plans for issues important to kids?

Trump and Biden on coronavirus, the environment, education and racial justice.

Choosing a presidential candidate to support is usually about figuring out which one has views closest to your own on issues that you think are important. That involves doing research: visiting campaign websites, listening to speeches or debates, and reading sources not connected to the campaigns, such as media sources with good reputations and voter information websites. We have gathered some of that information on the two major-party candidates: former vice president Joe Biden (Democratic Party) and President Donald Trump (Republican Party). We picked four areas that affect kids and that kids have spoken out about, but we’re only scratching the surface. We encourage you to dig deeper on these and any other issues you think are important. That way you can see over the next four years if the winning candidate keeps his campaign promises.

Vote in the kids-only presidential election.


Vaccine plans

Biden: Fast-track the production of a vaccine. Produce details before taking office on which government agency would be in charge of distributing a vaccine or vaccines, which groups of people would receive a vaccine first and when that would happen.

Trump: Develop a vaccine by the end of this year. He has asked state and local health departments to figure out how to distribute a vaccine, should one be approved, as early as October.

Face masks

Biden: Push governors to require wearing face masks in public. Possibly enact mandatory face-mask wearing on U.S. government property.

Trump: Leave mask-wearing regulation to the states.

Virus testing

Biden: Provide free testing for “every person who needs a test.” Set up at least 10 mobile testing sites and drive-through facilities per state.

Trump: Although the president said this summer increased testing was making the United States “look bad,” he announced September 28 that 100 million rapid tests would be distributed to states over the next several weeks.


Carbon emissions

Biden: Reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050 by reducing methane production, creating more energy-efficient government buildings, pushing the auto industry to produce electric vehicles, making companies disclose levels of greenhouse gas emissions and conserving 30 percent of public lands and waters by 2030.

Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, the international effort to slow climate change.

Trump: No plan for carbon emission reduction. In March, he backed off President Barack Obama’s plan to make cars and trucks 5 percent more energy efficient each year from 2021 to 2026. That requirement is now 1.5 percent each year. ​ (Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation make up about 28 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.)

Renewable energy

Biden: Create a 100 percent renewable (or “clean”) energy economy by investing $1.7 trillion in the next 10 years. Some of that money would go to creating 10 million jobs related to harnessing the power sources, such as sun, wind, waves, rain, tides and geothermal heat.

Trump: Support all energy sources, including nonrenewable (fossil fuels) and renewable sources. Trump has been skeptical about the benefits of spending money on clean energy and wants to protect or expand jobs connected to fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas. He plans to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling in 2021.


Back to in-person schooling

Biden: Let school districts make decisions on when students can return.

Trump: Urged all schools to open in the fall for in-person learning.

Free college

Biden: Make public four-year colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes less than $125,000.

Make two years of community college or other professional training program free. The federal government would pay 75 percent, and the states would pay 25 percent of this program.

Biden has not estimated the cost of these programs or provided details on how his administration would pay for them. A recent Georgetown University study said the program would cost nearly $50 billion a year but after about 10 years would start paying for itself because more college graduates would get high-paying jobs that bring in more tax dollars to the government.

Trump: Does not support free community college or four-year colleges.

School choice

Biden: Does not support giving families government money to attend private or religious schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Trump: Make school choice available to all children. Most school-choice programs are controlled by states, but the United States government pays for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. That program allows low-income families in Washington to attend private schools with federal government money. In July, Trump announced adding $85 million in the next five years to the program.

Other priorities

Biden: Spend $8 billion to improve facilities and programs at community colleges.

Spend three times the current level of spending on Title I, a program that helps elementary and secondary (K-12) schools with large numbers of low-income students.

Add more counselors and social workers to K-12 schools.

Trump: Teach “American Exceptionalism,” or pro-America lessons, in schools. States determine the curriculum in their schools, but Trump has created a commission to explore the idea of making United States history lessons less about the legacy of slavery and racism.

Racial justice

Economic opportunities

Biden: Make sure that all small-business relief efforts are designed to help businesses owned by Black and Brown people.

Spend more on technology and innovation centers, especially those serving Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and Native American entrepreneurs, or people who start businesses.

Increase funding for organizations that help people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities.

Make tuition free at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority serving institutions (MSI) for families with incomes below $125,000.

Invest $70 billion in programs and facilities at HBCUs and MSIs.

Trump: Expand “Opportunity Zones” in low-income areas. These zones, which were created in 2017, allow people to save on their tax bill by investing money to construct buildings in these areas. The development is supposed to improve the living conditions of residents, but critics say it can also cause them to leave because housing becomes too expensive.

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