Nothing about 2020 is conventional, including the US Presidential election. Relying heavily on virtual rallies and live-streamed town halls, President Donald Trump and presidential hopeful Joe Biden will lay out their respective plans to steer America out of a recession, the double-digit unemployment rate, social injustice challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The candidates are clear on where they stand broadly on key issues. But policy ideas will likely continue to be fleshed out and debated throughout the weeks ahead. Business leaders we talk to, with vastly different political views, all agree it’s critical to keep a close eye on the policy details as they emerge.
Starting in September, we’ll be doing just that for you. Through a series of polls, we’ll capture C-suite leaders’ pulse on the top issues to help keep you abreast of how your peers are responding to the latest developments. And we’ll combine their perspectives with our analysis to help give you insights you can use.
Economic plans dominate the political conversation in every national election, but this time around they are more intertwined than usual with issues like healthcare and racial inequality. With the economy expected to contract 6% this year, both candidates have signaled varying degrees of support for economic nationalism and ‘Buy American.’ But they differ greatly on how to get people back to work, address inequalities and reconfigure our healthcare system. Details matter more than ever, because the winner will likely not only oversee COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution but also lead America’s transition to a new post-pandemic economy.
A change in administration could signal higher taxes, prompting tax leaders to bracket a range of outcomes for cash flow and effective tax rates. Right now, companies face considerable uncertainty over President Trump’s executive order on deferring employee payroll taxes. It may leave questions on the logistics and implementation for the Treasury and the IRS to address. Businesses are also waiting to see if the White House and Congress will be able to reach a deal on the ‘Phase Four’ legislation of Covid-19 economic relief. Either way, tax policy has taken on added importance at this time of economic turbulence.
Any future administration is likely to maintain or increase pressure on China over trade and competition issues, although a Biden administration may lean more towards building stronger international coalitions rather than broadly imposing additional tariffs. Automation opportunities and weaknesses exposed by the pandemic will likely continue to make supply chains shorter and more flexible. Business leaders are closely evaluating the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a template for future trade deals, with its emphasis on protecting cross-border data flows and higher labor standards.
Business leaders are making public pledges to help advance racial equity in the workplace and our communities—an issue that’s front and center in this election. President Trump has stated he sees a strong economy as the pathway to greater opportunity while Democrats are pushing for specific remedies such as higher minimum wage and targeted investments in areas like education and affordable housing for people of color. Jobs, skills and rebooting the economy are priorities on both sides of the aisle, but the parties and their Presidential candidates remain far apart on the appropriate way forward.
The current administration has used its regulatory power to tweak the administration of the Affordable Care Act, but watch for potential rollbacks under a Democratic president. After the election, lawmakers from both parties could address consumer-pleasing, bipartisan issues, such as drug pricing reform, a rethink of Medicare Part D and, possibly, a federal solution to “surprise billing”.
A change in administration is likely to put the federal government’s focus back on environmental protections and renew its commitment to addressing climate change. But even without a political shift, it will likely be increasingly important for business to have a sustainability strategy and make disclosures about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data. Investors, employees and customers will likely continue to demand that companies report how environmental and social factors affect their cost structures and risk profiles.
A week is a long time in politics, and in an election season, just a day can spring surprises. As candidates go toe to toe on the issues, we will do what we can to keep up with them—to help you prepare for what lies ahead, no matter who becomes our next President. Subscribe below to stay informed on the road to election 2020.