Fact-checking resources for the first 2020 presidential debate

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Fact-checking resources for the first 2020 presidential debate

Before the candidates take the stage for the first presidential debate of 2020, EPI has compiled resources that could be helpful in fact-checking the economic and political claims that are made during and after the debate. We’ve broken down our research into several themes and have highlighted some of our most important research in each area:

Response to COVID-19

  • Black workers face two of the most lethal preexisting conditions for coronavirus—racism and economic inequality
    Persistent racial disparities in health status, access to health care, wealth, employment, wages, housing, income, and poverty all contribute to greater susceptibility to the virus—both economically and physically.
  • Latinx workers—particularly women—have faced some of the most damaging economic and health effects of the coronavirus
    As a group, Latinx workers face a double bind: They are the least likely to be able to work from home to avoid coronavirus exposure and the most likely to have lost their job during the COVID-19 recession.”
  • Who are essential workers? A comprehensive look at their wages, demographics, and unionization rates
    Nearly every state governor has issued executive orders that outline industries deemed “essential” during the pandemic, which typically include health care, food service, and public transportation, among others. However, despite being categorized as essential, many workers in these industries are not receiving the most basic health and safety measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.


Labor protections

  • 50 reasons the Trump administration is bad for workers
    The Trump administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic marks the administration’s most glaring failure of leadership. However, the administration’s response to the pandemic is in no way distinct from its approach to governing since President Trump’s first day on the job. The administration has systematically promoted the interests of corporate executives and shareholders over those of working people and failed to protect workers’ safety, wages, and rights.
  • Unprecedented: The Trump NLRB’s attack on workers’ rights
    Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has systematically rolled back workers’ rights to form unions and engage in collective bargaining with their employers, to the detriment of workers, their communities, and the economy.
  • Why unions are good for workers—especially in a crisis like COVID-19
    The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the importance of unions in giving workers a collective voice in the workplace and the urgent need to reform U.S. labor laws to arrest the erosion of those rights. During the crisis, unionized workers have been able to secure enhanced safety measures, additional premium pay, paid sick time, and a say in the terms of furloughs or work-share arrangements to save jobs.

Trade and manufacturing

  • We can reshore manufacturing jobs, but Trump hasn’t done it: Trade rebalancing, infrastructure, and climate investments could create 17 million good jobs and rebuild the American economy
    While the Trump administration has claimed that the era of U.S. offshoring is “over,” the reality is that the United States has not begun to address the root causes of America’s growing trade deficits and the decline of American manufacturing. Decades of trade, currency, and tax policies that incentivized offshoring, combined with an utter failure to invest adequately in infrastructure and good jobs at home, have contributed to growing inequality and an eroding middle class.
  • Trump’s ‘blue-collar boom’ is likely a dud
    Globalization has reduced wages for working Americans by putting non-college educated workers into a competitive race to the bottom in wages, benefits, and working conditions with low-wage workers in Mexico, China, and other low-pay, rapidly industrializing countries. The Trump administration’s two trade deals don’t change that reality. Workers counting on Trump to deliver a “great American comeback” have been left waiting at the station.
  • Growing China trade deficit cost 3.7 million American jobs between 2001 and 2018: Jobs lost in every U.S. state and congressional district
    Despite the tariffs and other restrictions imposed on China trade by the Trump administration, the bilateral trade deficit continued to grow between 2016 and 2018 because of the failure to address the fundamental flaws with the U.S.–China trade relationship.
  • U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement—Weak tea, at best
    The revised U.S.—Mexico—Canada Agreement (USMCA) represents a significant improvement on the draft agreement first released in 2017. Negotiators for labor and House Democrats strengthened the provisions on labor rights, environmental standards, and the enforcement of these rules, and also removed costly and egregious new protections for corporations, including giveaways by the Trump administration to pharmaceutical companies.


Health care


  • COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy: Lessons from pre-pandemic research to inform relief, recovery, and rebuilding
    While we do not yet know the exact impacts, we do know that the interruption and disruptions have certainly affected children’s learning, along with their progress on other developmental skills. We also know that, given the various ways in which the crisis has widened existing socioeconomic disparities and how these disparities affect learning and educational outcomes, educational inequities are growing. Both aspects will be needed to be made up for in the aftermath of the pandemic.
  • Teachers are paid almost 20% less than similar workers: When including benefits, teachers still face a 10.2% total compensation penalty
    When adjusted for education, experience, and demographic factors, teachers earned weekly wages 6.0% less than comparable workers in 1997. In 2019, the penalty was 19.2%, which, notably, was a 2.8 percentage-point improvement compared with a wage penalty of 22.0% a year earlier.
  • Schools are still segregated, and black children are paying a price
    Well over six decades after the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” schools to be unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, schools remain heavily segregated by race and ethnicity.

Child care

  • Cost of child care by state
    Center-based care for four-year-olds ranges from $4,493 a year in Arkansas to nearly $18,980 a year in D.C.—while ECE for infants ranges from $5,760 in Mississippi to $24,081 in D.C. All told, parents currently spend about $42 billion on early care and education, while federal, state, and local governments spend just $34 billion.
  • Who’s paying now? The explicit and implicit costs of the current early care and education system
    The current early child care and education (ECE) system is substantially “funded” through low teacher pay and inadequate supports for ECE teachers, who are primarily women, specifically women of color. Nationally, the median hourly wage for ECE teachers is just $12.12—and nearly one in five live below the official poverty line.


Wages and inequality

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