POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Donald Trump vs Joe Biden on Colorado issues: Where the presidential candidates stand

A breakdown of where the candidates stand on health care, marijuana, education, public lands issues and other major policies



 

Donald Trump

 

Donald Trump

Incumbent president and businessman

 


 

Background: 

Back in the spring, Gov. Jared Polis leveraged a number of federal channels in pursuit of life-saving ventilators but came up empty. Sen. Cory Gardner says he called Trump, and Colorado received 100 ventilators the next day. Either candidate, if elected to the presidency, will likely be inaugurated amid a still-raging pandemic that could spiral into hundreds of thousands of more deaths. Experts and critics have blasted the Trump administration for failing to properly distribute life-saving medical equipment to the states.

 

Delegated much responsibility to states

A: Donald Trump: Early in the pandemic Trump told states to work out competing bids for medical equipment and blamed states for failing to stockpile critical medical equipment. The federal government also outbid states for some equipment.
The Department of Homeland Security in September released a plan outlining how it would distribute a vaccine. The department said it would “engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners” for distribution and that the “CDC will play a vital role in deciding, based on input from experts and stakeholders, how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.”
Early in the pandemic Trump told states to work out competing bids for medical equipment and blamed states for failing to stockpile critical medical equipment. The federal government also outbid states for some equipment.
The Department of Homeland Security in September released a plan outlining how it would distribute a vaccine. The department said it would “engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners” for distribution and that the “CDC will play a vital role in deciding, based on input from experts and stakeholders, how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.”

 

Q:

HEALTH CARE PLAN

What is your health care plan agenda and how does it affect coverage in Colorado? In addition, would it allow states like Colorado to create single-payer systems?

Background: 

Health care is a significant issue in the race and in Colorado, where lawmakers are looking to expand coverage. If the next administration fails to advance its health care agenda initiative, expect states like Colorado to continue to explore state-level programs such as a public option plan run by private insurers, an effort in the legislature that failed in 2020.

 

Healthcare efforts have focused on repealing Obamacare and not much else

A: President Trump and congressional Republicans in 2017 tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but came up a vote short, and later repealed the individual mandate from the law. The Trump Administration in June asked the Supreme Court to repeal the law, and the court will hear arguments on the case shortly after the election. If the court strikes down the law, over 20 million Americans could lose their coverage. Trump hasn’t proposed a plan to replace the law.

 

Background: 

In a bid to reduce prescription drug costs, Colorado state health officials are developing what would be one of the nation’s first drug importation programs. But the state can’t do it alone. Under a 2003 law, federal approval is required. One major hurdle that could demand the next president’s attention: Canadian officials have concerns about the idea, and could unilaterally block drug exports to the U.S. before such a program can get off the ground.

 

Recently permitted imports from Canada

A: Trump in September announced his administration would allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada and his administration says it poses no health risk. The measure however, does not allow states to import certain drugs, like insulin. It remains unclear about whether such a move would lower prescription drug prices.

 

Background: 

Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment in legal marijuana began in 2014, and now medical marijuana legalization has spread to 33 states and recreational pot sales exist in 11. The earlier fears of a federal crackdown on Colorado’s legal marijuana market subsided somewhat after the departure of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Nonetheless, as long as the drug is illegal under federal law, legal risks remain for the industry’s present and future in Colorado. Federal legalization could reduce those barriers, but could also threaten Colorado’s industry dominance if it accelerates the competition in other states.

 

Probably not

A: He has largely stayed out of marijuana-related questions. In 2017, his press secretary said the administration would more aggressively enforce federal marjiuana laws, but it hasn’t followed up on that position and his former attorney general reinforced the message. Earlier this year, a Trump campaign official told a Las Vegas TV station the president opposes federal marijuana legalization.

 

Q:

CANNABIS BANKING

Would you support and sign the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) to make it easier for marijuana businesses to bank and obtain loans in states where it is legal?

Background: 

More than six years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, a major issue remains unresolved: banking. The U.S. House passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2019 to allow marijuana businesses access to financial services like loans, lines of credit and even bank accounts. It would also shelter banks and other institutions from prosecution for handling money tied to marijuana. Marijuana advocacy groups say that absent this sort of law, the billion-dollar state business has effectively been forced to operate in cash, making it more susceptible to theft and other risks.

 

Trump hasn’t commented in the specific bill

A: It’s unclear if the president would sign the act into law if given the opportunity. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short opposed including the measure in a coronavirus relief package. Cory Gardner, a cosponsor of the legislation, said the president is generally receptive to marijuana reforms.

 

Background: 

The Trump administration announced it would relocate the federal Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction in July 2019, a move supported by Republican and Democratic leaders in Colorado. The Department of the Interior now says about 40 BLM employees will transfer to the new location, far fewer than initially hoped. And the move drew controversy and a congressional investigation after critics suggested the move was designed to gut the agency.

 

No signs of changing course

A: Prodded by Colorado leaders, he helped make the move happen. He has not suggested any second thoughts about his decision to relocate the headquarters.

 

Background: 

The fierce debate over who can use Colorado’s federally owned public lands -- and for what purpose -- is a constant fault line in Colorado politics. The U.S. House last year passed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act -- a massive public lands measure that would designate roughly 100,000 acres for wilderness and recreation in the state, and remove more than 200,000 acres from oil and gas development. The measure has stalled in the GOP-led Senate.

 

Threatened to veto

A: His administration in 2019 threatened a veto if the CORE Act made it through both chambers of Congress. The White House said the legislation could harm rural communities in Colorado and insisted on more local input on the legislation.

 

Background: 

Colorado has more drilling on public lands than most states, and the effort is expanding. In 2017, the federal Bureau of Land Management wanted to limit oil and gas production on 190,000 acres in eastern Colorado, but in 2019, the BLM suggested granting protections to fewer than 2,000 acres. This has riled wildlife conservationists who want to protect habitats, including those for the sage grouse, and also those who want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Gov. Jared Polis noted that allowing more development on federal lands would cause a 27% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development in the state. Proponents counter that the lease proceeds can help fund national parks.

 

Heavy promotion of drilling on public lands

A: The Trump administration has aggressively promoted energy production on public lands, including in Colorado. The Interior Department under Trump, following the wishes of industry groups, has weakened rules that regulate fracking on public lands. California sued the administration earlier this year over plans to open public lands to fracking.

 

Background: 

The use of hydraulic fracturing technology allows energy companies to drill miles-long horizontal wells and extract oil and gas deposits by fracturing shale rock. In Colorado, fracking has led to a boom in the energy industry in Colorado, which counts $30 billion in economic impact and thousands of jobs. However, the proliferation of wells and their location near Front Range communities is generating conflict.

 

Supports fracking

A: Leases issued by the federal government for fracking operations reached their highest point since the initial fracking boom, largely because Trump has made the expansion of fracking a central policy position. He has criticized Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris for wanting to ban fracking. Earlier this year, Trump freed natural gas producers from needing to detect and fix methane leaks by repealing an Obama-era rule, and his campaign website celebrates natural gas production as a key element of energy independence.

 

Background: 

The push toward renewable energy continues, but reaching 100% would require major changes at the regulatory and consumer level. In Colorado, just 23% of the state’s power is generated from wind, solar and hydroelectric power, with the rest coming from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The national picture looks similar. Achieving that goal will mean financial pain for a fossil fuel industry that employs more than 30,000 workers in the state, among oil, gas and coal. But it could also mean new green jobs. Colorado’s Democratic governor set a goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2040.

 

Strong supporter of fossil fuels

A: He has throughout his administration rolled back policies that would move Colorado and the nation closer to 100% renewable energy. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accords, which sought to slash U.S. carbon emissions by 26-28% by 2025. He repealed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which tightened emissions regulations for power plants. His campaign website makes no mention of transitioning to renewable energy and instead touts his policies to “unleash oil and gas production in the U.S.”

 

Background: 

The dual pressures of climate change and population growth are expected to exacerbate the challenge of water shortages. Colorado has a state-level plan for managing river usage, but the federal government will have a role to play in mediating the competing demands of the seven states and Mexico, where residents, farmers and environmental groups have concerns about having their needs met by the Colorado River.

 

Signed water agreement

A: The growing concern over the Colorado River’s ability to support a population of 50 million people in the western U.S. led last year to a water-management accord involving seven states and Mexico that Trump signed. His administration also fast-tracked a 140 mile pipeline to transfer water from Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir, to communities in southern Utah.

 

Background: 

The catastrophic fires that ravaged California communities for four straight years set records, putting policymakers across the West on notice: as global temperatures rise, natural disasters are expected to occur more frequently and be more destructive. States like Colorado have responded by increasing funding to fight fires and prevent them. The maintenance of power lines is another issue. The federal government is commiting more resources to the problem as well, even as the president has sparred with state leaders. But the federal government’s role could expand in unexpected ways if the trend continues.

 

Advocates for forest management

A: He has tried to eliminate the budget of the nation’s top fire science division and accelerated cuts to fire science that started under the Obama administration. He has advocated for “forest management,” a practice that, scientists say, is inadequate to address current fires, which are linked to climate change.

 

Background: 

The economic turndown caused by coronavirus hamstrung the Colorado state budget and Democratic legislative leaders are pleading for federal intervention. The state could face nearly $7 billion in lost revenues over the coming years, and the recession already forced the state to slash its budget 25%. Economists warn the current economic crisis could linger, and it will ultimately be up to federal leaders to determine how much help they want to give to states.

 

Clashed with states on the issue

A: Trump said it would be unfair to states governed by Republicans to bail out states grappling with coronavirus-related budget short falls, which he blames on local Democratic leadership. He also suggested states should accept his policy priorities if they want to receive federal funding. He recently put a hold on any additional stimulus packages until after the election.

 

Q:

UNEMPLOYMENT

How would you help those unemployed in Colorado because of the coronavirus and what protections do you support for workers?

 

His position on more aid is volatile

A: Trump in October abruptly ended negotiations with congressional Democrats over plans to pass a new economic stimulus package that included aid to unemployed workers. The day after ending negotiations, he called on Democrats to approve sending stimulus checks to Americans. In August he signed an executive order extending $300 supplemental unemployment benefits for three weeks, and FEMA later extended that to six weeks.

 

Background: 

The teacher protest movement that spread across the country starting in 2018 led to pay raises in some communities. But the profession as a whole remains in a state of crisis, with shortages so acute -- and pay so unattractive -- that some communities are recruiting teachers from foreign countries. In Colorado, many teachers work second jobs or live in travel trailers to make ends meet, and state lawmakers are focused on how to help boost the wages offered by local school boards. Federal help could be a boon in a state that has struggled to raise revenue for schools and has huge disparities from one district to the next.

 

Education policy centers on school choice

A: The president’s second term agenda includes two points in its education section: “provide school choice to every child in America” and “teach American exceptionalism.” During his first term, Trump pushed Congress to increase funding for programs that allow parents to send their kids to charter schools and private schools.

 

Q:

RURAL ECONOMIES

How would your administration help struggling rural economies like those in Colorado, and what help would you provide to these communities?

Background: 

The struggles of rural America have been well documented. Nationally, small communities face shortages of critical professions like doctors, teachers and firefighters. They’re becoming older demographically, while shedding residents, businesses and jobs. Even in Colorado, which boasts one of the best state economies in the nation, a stunning 98% of new jobs in the last decade have been created along the urban Front Range, leaving wide swaths of the state behind. Recent federal assistance has come in the form of a farm bailout and tax incentives, but produced mixed results.

 

Has implemented support for farmers, but caused some harm with trade war with China

A: The administration gave billions of dollars to farmers whose sales were hampered by the trade war with China, and in 2018, Trump signed a farm bill that expanded disaster crop insurance, among other changes. The administration has also leveraged the Department of Agriculture to provide funds to rural communities, including Trinidad, which received a $2 million loan to renovate a hospital.

 

Background: 

Paid family leave is a major issue in Colorado ahead of the November election, where a state-level measure is on the ballot. Colorado voters are considering a proposal that would give workers up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new baby or adopted child, recover from an illness, or take care of a relative who is seriously ill. A handful of other states have approved similar policies.

 

Urged congress to pass a paid leave bill

A: In his State of the Union address this year, Trump called on Congress to pass a paid family leave bill. The bill he supports, however, is different from many other versions, as it only applies to taking care of children -- not sick relatives -- and doesn’t provide a new source of income. Instead, it would allow parents to essentially borrow from their future selves by taking a portion of their own future child tax credits.

 

Q:

TRADE & TARIFFS

Do you support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and how would your administration address the issue of trade tariffs?

Background: 

Both candidates are prioritizing domestic production on the campaign trail, a particularly salient message in rust belt battleground states that have lost manufacturing jobs to globalization. Trump campaigned on an anti-globalization message in 2016, and has delivered on many of those campaign promises.

 

Cites USMCA as key accomplishment

A: Trump recently achieved a key campaign promise when he received bipartisan Congressional approval for a rework of NAFTA -- now known as the USMCA, or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The deal includes new protections for auto manufacturing and labor and the environment, and it relaxes market restrictions on dairy products to encourage trade. It came as a welcome relief to many Colorado farmers and manufacturers. Trump has also waged a turbulent trade war with China and pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

 

Background: 

The Electoral College picks U.S. presidents by awarding electors to the candidate who wins each state, rather than the one who wins the most votes nationwide. Colorado has been at the forefront of the debate in recent years, and home to the “faithless elector” movement in 2016, a case decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. Now the state’s voters will decide whether to join a national popular-vote movement in November.

 

Has been inconsistent on this issue

A: He has made a mixed bag of comments about the Electoral College. In 2012, he said in a tweet that the Electoral College is a “disaster for democracy.” In 2018, he said he supported switching to a national popular vote system. Last year, he switched his position and said the “Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”

 

Background: 

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold publicly sparred with Trump over mail voting when Trump suggested his supporters in North Carolina vote twice -- once by mail and once in person, which is illegal. Griwsold threatened to refer Trump for prosecution if double voting occurred in Colorado. The Centennial State is widely recognized as a leader in mail voting, a system it has had in place since 2013.

 

Baselessly discredits vote by mail

A: The president has waged a monthslong campaign to discredit mail voting across the country. Trump insists -- falsely -- that mail voting is prone to fraud, a claim for which there is no evidence.

 

The Issues


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The Candidates


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Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Former Vice President and U.S. Senator   

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Incumbent president and businessman