Sophia McWilliams

By Sophia McWilliams, Bethlehem resident and student at the University of Richmond

Donald Trump, current United States president, and Joe Biden, previous vice president to President Obama, are the two front runners in the 2020 presidential campaign. Both Trump and Biden seem to lay on opposite sides of the spectrum on most issues regarding American life and foreign policy. Their disagreements have led to a contentious election with outright opposition and disapproval of each other. As a result, it is important to examine these 2020 presidential candidates and their views on global poverty reduction in order to understand how their objectives will affect countries and citizens around the world.

Their plans for reducing global poverty are especially important now more than ever since the World Bank predicts that almost 110-320 million people will fall victim to heightened poverty conditions (less than $5.50 a day) due to COVID-19. As a strong, developed nation, it is important that the United States take a stance on global poverty in order to help these struggling countries, many of whom rely on United States’ aid for survival.

Donald Trump

The current 2016-2020 president opposes increased international aid and funding because he feels that it detracts from American resources. For example, President Trump recently proposed more than a 20% cut in the International Affairs Budget which helps vulnerable countries fight issues such as poverty, terrorism, economic hardships, and oppressive regimes. President Trump has pushed a decrease in the budget for the past four years; however, this most recent plan was the largest percentage that was presented.

Rahmon Ross, foreign policy assistant for Democratic Senator of Pennsylvania Bob Casey, states that this immense decrease will most likely not pass in Congress. In fact, Congress cultivated a specific COVID-19 response within the International Affairs Budget to ensure that countries all over the world have the resources to fight this virus. However, President Trump’s proposed decrease reveals that domestic priorities take precedent over international aid and assistance (at least from the executive branch).

Furthermore, President Trump has not addressed the threat that COVID-19 plays for undeveloped, vulnerable countries. Despite originally downplaying the virus, President Trump has directed almost all efforts towards fighting COVID-19 within the United States.

Overall, President Trump is running his 2020 campaign very close to his current values and priorities. He retains an “America first” position and has taken strides in his 2016-2020 presidential term to sustain the focus of reducing poverty domestically and increase jobs and income for working class Americans; to date, he has not addressed straying from this position if elected to another presidential term. In other words, President Trump has not made plans to shift United States assistance or attention to combating global poverty.

Joe Biden

These 2020 presidential candidates and their views on global poverty reduction diverge when comparing Donald Trump with Joe Biden. Joe Biden emphasizes the importance of allies and a United States presence in the global world. Additionally, Biden publicly criticizes President Trump’s international policies and addresses how many of them need to be reworked.

For instance, while President Trump wants to cut back the International Affairs Budget, Joe Biden espouses commitment to restoring United States support and assistance. Biden also plans on working with other democratic nations to instill a global focus on human rights, counterterrorism, national security and democracy.

Biden’s global commitment is important because many countries that grapple with these issues are also poverty ridden and at risk. In particular, the UN asserts that poverty stems and results from human rights violations. Therefore, Biden’s concentration on human rights and democracy is inextricably tied to global poverty reduction.

In terms of global poverty and the threat of COVID-19, Biden proposes increasing United States aid through USAID in order to help poor, vulnerable countries who will be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also plans on working with organizations like the UN and WHO to ensure that these countries and its citizens are receiving proper and substantial aid.

In sum, these 2020 presidential candidates and their views on global poverty reduction differ immensely. While both Trump and Biden champion United States growth, Biden maintains a stronger focus on global poverty reduction than President Trump. President Trump sustained a narrow global focus in his 2016-2020 presidential term and these values are carrying over into his 2020-2024 campaign, whereas Biden sees the United States as an essential ally and partner for the global community.