IOWA CAUCUS 2020

Countdown to caucuses: Democratic candidates in Iowa use agriculture woes to highlight plans on trade, economy

IRS 1040 individual income tax forms are seen in 2016 in New York. Some Democratic presidential candidates have pledged
IRS 1040 individual income tax forms are seen in 2016 in New York. Some Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to repeal the 2017 tax cuts, contending that they primarily benefit the wealthy. (Bloomberg News)

By many metrics, the economy is strong both nationally and in Iowa. The stock market is doing well, and in Iowa unemployment is low — 2.6 percent in November.

But there also is unease here, thanks in part to crop prices that have been depressed by severe weather and flooding, as well as international trade disputes and federal ethanol policy.

The Democratic presidential candidates visiting Iowa over the past 13 months have criticized Republican President Donald Trump’s tax cuts — which the Democrats say disproportionately favored the wealthy and did not help middle-class and low-income Americans — and the Trump administration’s moves on trade and ethanol.

Most have criticized Trump for picking trade fights with Canada and Mexico, Iowa’s top two trading partners, as well as China. The candidates seem to agree that trade relations with China needed to be revamped, but they suggest Trump erred in stirring up a trade conflict without first enlisting the support of international trading partners.

The Trump administration this month signed a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, as well as the first phase of a new trade agreement with China.

Some Democrats have pledged to repeal the tax cuts signed into law in 2017.

And some are proposing new taxes to pay for their policy proposals for expanding access to health care, addressing climate change and reducing college costs and student loan debt.

Joe Biden

• Create good union jobs that build the middle class.

• Reverse Trump’s tax cuts for the superwealthy and corporations.

• Eliminate special tax breaks that reward special interests.

• Get rid of the capital gains loophole for multi-millionaires.

• Enforce existing trade laws.

• Protect and strengthen Social Security.

• Stop companies from classifying low-wage workers as managers in order to avoid paying overtime

Pete Buttigieg

• An estimated $400 billion tax cut via expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to increase incomes by estimated average of $1,000 per year for 35 million American families

• Raise minimum wage to $15

• Capital gains tax on the top 1 percent of earners.

• Eliminate Trump tax cuts for the wealthy.

• $430 billion invested in affordable housing.

• $200 billion over a decade to retrain workers who lose their jobs.

• Opposed to Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

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• Institute carbon tax

Amy Klobuchar

• Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour

• Close tax loopholes for carried interest and big oil

• Direct the Department of Justice to update its guidelines to ensure enforcement of antitrust laws

• Establish portable, worker-owned universal private retirement accounts

• Eliminate Trump tax cuts for the wealthy

Bernie Sanders

• Establish an annual tax on the extreme wealth of the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households

• Increase the tax rate to 2 percent on individuals whose net worth is from $50 to $250 million

• Eliminate Trump tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporations

• End special tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for the top 1%

• Cap consumer loans and credit cards rates at 15% across all financial institutions

• Deny federal contracts to companies that pay poverty wages, outsource jobs overseas, engage in union busting, deny good benefits, and pay CEOs outrageous compensation packages

• Double union membership within four years

• Revise trade deals to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs and raise wages

• Deny federal contracts to corporations that outsource American jobs

Elizabeth Warren

• “Ultra-millionaire” wealth tax: 2% annual tax on 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth

• Leader of Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2017, which would simplify and decrease costs of filing taxes

• Raise minimum wage to $15

• “Excessive Lobbying Tax” would tax firms that spend more than $500,000 on lobbying

• 7% corporate tax on every dollar above $100 million in corporate profits

• Eliminate Trump tax cuts for the wealthy

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