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3 takeaways from first U.S. presidential debate

Climate and taxes became hotly debated topics between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump during Thursday night's debate.

While a large focus of the U.S. presidential debate came down to performance and inaccurate statements, both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump provided a small glimpse into their future policy stances.

Biden and Trump's approach to issues such as climate change and clean energy, as well as relationships with foreign countries, differ greatly. Below are three policy areas the candidates focused on during the debate Thursday.

Editor's note: For additional information on Trump's and Biden's approach to technology policy, see TechTarget Editorial's guide to candidate stances on tech.


During the debate, Trump alluded to his interest in pursuing domestic oil and gas production, something he said the U.S. was advancing under his previous administration until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Without providing a specific plan of action, Trump said if reelected, he would aim for "immaculate, clean water" and "absolutely clean air." He emphasized that under his previous administration "we were using all forms of energy."

Biden zeroed in on leading the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which he called the "most extensive climate change legislation in history." He also emphasized his goal to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2035. He said he helped establish the American Climate Corps, which is an organization like the Peace Corps but focused on climate change.

He hasn't done a damn thing for the environment.
Joe BidenU.S. President

Biden added that Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, which was an international agreement to help tackle climate change and reduce global carbon emissions. Biden signed the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement when he took office. Trump argued that he pulled out of the Paris Agreement because it was going to cost the U.S. a significant amount of money, but not countries like China, Russia and India.

"He hasn't done a damn thing for the environment," Biden said of Trump.


Biden focused on his investments in domestic manufacturing, pointing out how his leadership is bringing semiconductor chip manufacturing back to the U.S. The semiconductor supply chain has been a concern for the U.S., particularly since China is a leading producer.

Trump said his future trade policy would include a 10% tariff on all goods coming into the U.S. He said the tariffs implemented under his previous administration on steel and aluminum imported from China, which the Biden administration kept in place, "saved our steel industries."

"It's going to cause countries that have been ripping us off for years like China and many others, in all fairness to China, it's going to force them to pay us a lot of money, reduce our deficit tremendously and give us a lot of power for other things," Trump said.

Regulations, taxes

Trump pointed to the corporate tax cuts he implemented under his previous administration to make companies invest in the U.S., something he indicated he would do again under a new administration. Under the former Trump administration, corporate tax rates were cut from 35% to 21%. Meanwhile, Biden said he wants to raise taxes for individuals making more than $400,000 annually to address federal debt and help supplement programs such as Social Security. Biden said Trump's tax cuts "rewarded the wealthy."

In his closing remarks, Trump talked about his previous administration's efforts to improve the economy by cutting regulations, something he said the Biden administration is putting back in place for businesses. Under the Biden administration, agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have attempted to craft rules for climate risk disclosure, while the Federal Trade Commission has mulled its capacity to create rules governing data privacy.

Makenzie Holland is a senior news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general assignment reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.

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