No Matter Who Wins the 2020 Presidential Election, Big Changes Are Coming. Will You Be Ready?

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley & Lardner LLPEvery election observer understands that if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November Presidential election, big changes will soon follow. What many may not realize is that big changes will also happen if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue gets re-elected.

What to expect if Biden wins:

Arguably, not since the Civil War have the choices for president been so diametrically different, both in substance and style. If Mr. Biden is elected, he will look to immediately bolster COVID-19 relief, expand health care opportunities, and secure and enhance the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Biden will likely include increased PPE, COVID therapeutics, and vaccines in this effort. His Administration will ask Congress to fund and extend unemployment insurance in an attempt to help citizens weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic. Climate and Energy policy will also receive immediate attention as this is a core value of the party and the top issue for voters under 30. It’s pretty clear that on day-one a President Biden will sign an executive order ending family separation at the border and further legislative efforts on immigration reform will follow soon after. Mr. Biden is very committed to our foreign alliances, and foreign relations have always been an area of great interest for him. You can expect a foreign summit in the first 100 days that will attempt to patch up frayed relationships that he believes have been damaged by the current administration. As former Vice President, Biden will be ready to hit the ground running on day-one. He will rapidly fill key positions to ensure government is working effectively.

There will be a tremendous energy in Congress to change tax policy, but expect those changes to be much less dramatic than what some expect and fear. Moderate Congressional Democrats will stand with Republicans and stop radical changes in tax policy. Initial attempts at changes are likely to involve renewing the tax deductions for state and local taxes and possibly a hike of the gas tax to pay for infrastructure. Big tax policy will likely wait until after the mid-term elections.

Other focuses for a Biden Administration will include election security and campaign finance reforms. A Biden presidency will also likely lead to the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and possibly Justice Stephen Breyer.

Big changes if Trump gets re-elected, too:

In the last four years, the Trump Administration has often been frustrated by a less-than-receptive Congress and a sometimes-divided Republican majority, so that much of President Trump’s legislative agenda has been stymied by the Democratic House and the Senate Democrats’ use of the Senate filibuster. The floodgates will reopen after a re-election. Energized by a re-election, there will be renewed vigor to try to get his stalled agenda enacted, and the President will use all means available to get his agenda kick-started. President Trump has attempted to make policy changes by issuing executive orders and by employing the formal rulemaking process. While the rulemaking process has been relatively successful for the administration, such as with the changes to the “Waters of the US” rules and the National Environmental Protection Act or “NEPA” guidelines, President Trump’s Executive Orders have, more often than not, been overturned by the courts. If President Trump is re-elected, expect his second term administration to make quick work of the rulemaking process to take aim at issues like the Affordable Care Act, further moderating environmental and energy rules, and strengthening immigration impediments. President Trump’s relations with Congress will likely not improve, but a deal on infrastructure is one area where the Administration and Congress could find common ground. The most significant area of impact for a second Trump Administration may not be on policy directly but on the Judiciary. Republican focus on the federal bench has been significant, resulting in the appointment and confirmation of more than 200 federal judges, and that effort will only accelerate in a second Trump term. Liberal-leaning Supreme Court justices who have been hoping to wait out the Trump Administration before retiring may not be willing or able to continue long into another Presidential term, and that would offer more opportunities for Republicans to fill key vacancies.

Congressional committee staffers are already preparing legislation or considering regulatory oversight that will shape the next four years. 

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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