The Biden-Trump Presidential Debate: Economy and Abortion

On June 28, 2024, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump participated in their first debate of the 2024 presidential election. The viewing was a spectacle to Americans, desperate to identify which senior citizen should preside over the United States for the next four years. Unfortunately, the answer may be neither, with no way out. 

Land of the Free Inflated

CNN moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper launched the debate with the US economy and inflation, pointing to rising prices of essentials and housing. In response, President Biden blamed the current inflation on President Trump, citing a collapsed economy with an unemployment rate of 15% at the end of the former president’s tenure. The truth was that the unemployment rate was 6.4% when Biden came into power, though Trump almost hit 15% months prior in April 2020. Biden then continued his response by focusing on job growth, his origin story in the 1940s, and his work to cheapen prescription drugs. Unfortunately, his statistics about the third matter were also misguided, as Medicare enrollees do not pay more than $35, not $15, a month for each insulin prescription, and “no senior has to pay more than [$2000, not $200] for any drug”, starting in 2025. 

In defense, Trump asserted how he helped the economy avoid a repeat of the Great Depression while admonishing Biden for only creating jobs for illegal immigrants and bounceback jobs. This admonishment, similar to most accusations made by Trump, was exaggerated. Biden helped the United States surpass pre-pandemic employment levels in June 2022 and accounted for the jobs lost to early retirement, deaths, and caregiving duties. Instead of responding to this false claim, however, Biden redirected to focus on Trump’s heavy-handed tax cut and deficit and the former president’s lack of action regarding Afghanistan.

Tapper interjected the debate with a follow-up question regarding Trump’s proposal to enforce a 10% tariff on US imports, to which Trump supported the tariff by stating it would cost other countries and help reduce the deficit. This statement is the third lie in seven minutes shared between our top contenders for the United States president, with tariffs burdening American consumers and industries the most. Trump then justified his gifts of the “largest tax cut in history,” which was not the largest, and the regulation cut, moving swiftly onto how Biden inherited almost no inflation (inflation stood at 1.4% when Biden assumed office), emphasizing how much inflation rose during his presidency, and mishandled the Afghanistan withdrawal. 

Tapper then asked about Trump’s support of tax cuts, prompting Trump to attribute the tax cuts as what spurred a brilliant economy pre and post-COVID and highlight how more people died during the Biden administration, the failures of the vaccine mandate, and the issue of illegal immigration. Biden responded to these claims by mentioning how Trump had the most national debt of any presidential term and benefitted the wealthy. Unfortunately, he committed a self-goal when he ended his rebuttal with “We finally beat Medicare.” Taking advantage of the blunder, Trump launched into how Biden would destroy Social Security and Medicare due to his soft spot for illegal immigrants, a misconstrued notion as many undocumented immigrants work, with their payroll taxes helping maintain Social Security and Medicare.  

Follow Your Heart, Not Roe v. Wade

Moving on from the economy, at the 12:15 mark, Dana Bash asked President Trump if he would block abortion medicine, considering how he has taken credit for the Roe v. Wade overturning. As an answer, Trump stated he would not block abortion medicine and defended abortion rights being in the hands of state governments. He then continued to state his beliefs that rape, incest, and the life of the mother should be exceptions, but he finished this thought with “Follow your heart.” He then misframed the former governor of Virginia as a supporter of infanticide, when with further research, it is apparent Governor Ralph Northam spoke about nonviable fetuses

In retort, President Biden disapproved of Trump’s support of the Roe v. Wade overturning, citing how women may not even know they are pregnant at the 6-week mark and likening the situation to turning “civil rights back to the states.” The current president then tried to prove that illegal immigrants are not the only rapists in the country, allowing Trump to bash said immigrants for “raping and killing women.” After some more Reagansplaining from Trump, Bash interjected to ask the presidents for their opinions “on how late a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy.” Biden supported Roe v. Wade’s entailment of three trimesters, while Trump returned to the misleading example of Governor Ralph Northam, only to be called out by Biden for lying. The discussion of abortion ended with Biden stating he would veto a law restricting abortion rights while Trump would sign it.

Discussion

The first twenty minutes of this debate assert President Trump’s belief that we have not earned respect since President Biden’s presidency and my personal belief that we will not earn respect in the future with one of these contenders as president either. Unfortunately, the only thing we can do now is weigh our options. 

Most Americans see Trump as the better candidate for handling the US economy due to his previous tenure. But to play the devil’s advocate, we must recognize that Trump inherited the booming pre-COVID economy from President Barack Obama, and he did not handle it the best, considering his vices of the stock market, deficit-spending, and the wealthy. While he did ensure we had short-term growth to recuperate from the pandemic, he still passed on a collapsible post-COVID economy to Biden. Inflation peaked during Biden, but that was due to a combination of supply chain issues from the pandemic and Ukraine, and it has since been reducing.

As for the topic of abortion, I do not support the Roe v. Wade overturning and believe women should have the right to choose. However, this topic has always been a hallmark of division between Republicans and Democrats, with many sharing my opinion and many others not. 

With everything written, there is no use in how much one plays devil’s advocate for Biden when the current president cannot resist the urge to self-goal and makes meager attempts to defend his actions. Meanwhile, Trump certainly has his eye on the ball and is gearing up to win the election again. Both presidents have blundered personally and professionally, leaving the election between a prolific liar who will not make America great again and a man whose best days certainly do not lie ahead. Thank you for reading; the next will be about the opponents’ stances on immigration, border security, and foreign policy. 

Works Cited

Cole, Devan. “Virginia Governor Faces Backlash over Comments Supporting Late-Term Abortion Bill | CNN Politics.” CNN Politics, CNN, 31 Jan. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/01/31/politics/ralph-northam-third-trimester-abortion/index.html.

“Illegal Migration, Tax and Abortion – Fact Checking Trump-Biden Debate.” BBC News, BBC, 28 June 2024, www.bbc.com/news/articles/cv2g4n8vl9yo.

Lange, Jason. “Biden vs. Trump: Who Is Leading the Polls?” Reuters, 25 June 2024, www.reuters.com/world/us/us-voters-prefer-trump-economy-biden-democracy-reutersipsos-poll-finds-2024-06-25/.

“READ: Biden-Trump Debate Transcript.” CNN Politics, CNN, 28 June 2024, www.cnn.com/2024/06/27/politics/read-biden-trump-debate-rush-transcript/index.html.

“Trump Made More than 30 False Claims during CNN’s Presidential Debate — Far More than Biden.” CNN Politics, CNN, 28 June 2024, www.cnn.com/2024/06/27/politics/fact-checking-the-cnn-presidential-debate/index.html.“Watch the First 2024 Presidential Debate between Biden and Trump.” YouTube, NBC, 28 June 2024, www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr9d79TNPfc&ab_channel=NBCNews.