What would Kamala Harris mean for the US economy?

What would Kamala Harris mean for the US economy?
Source: Carlos Barria, Reuters
Harris’ economic priorities appear mostly in-line with those put forward by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Amid the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, much attention has been placed on the economic platforms of the top two presidential candidates – former Vice President Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump.

But it’s not just the platforms of those two men that matter.

Kamala Harris, selected as Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate in August, is the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major American political party.

As Biden himself has stated, the former California attorney general and sitting Senator will have her own responsibilities and work set aside for her if the ticket should win the White House in November.

Harris brings to Biden’s presidential ticket a set of her own economic priorities, with her past record in office suggesting what we can expect from a potential Biden/Harris administration.

Kamala’s career

Harris’ career in office began as the San Francisco attorney general in 2004, a position she held until 2011. Following this, Harris was elected as California’s attorney general in 2011, serving until 2016.

Elected to the US Senate in 2016, Harris became known to the general public as a tough interrogator of Trump administration officials, most prominently during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh.

In 2019, Harris launched her own campaign for the presidency but dropped out in late 2019 before endorsing Joe Biden in March 2020.

Kamala Harris’ political position and ideology is a topic up for debate between allies and detractors alike. Though the independent website GovTrack lists her as one of the most progressive sitting senators, Harris’ career as California’s top prosecutor and her tough stance on crime has earned her the suspicion of some on the American left.

In terms of her economic record, it is clear what priorities Kamala Harris will bring to a potential Joe Biden administration. It is also clear that Biden would allow Vice President Harris the space and scope to push her own personal policy priorities.

For instance, Biden has stated that when he agreed to serve as President Obama’s running mate, he wanted to be “the last person in the room before he made important decisions.” With his vice presidential pick, Biden “asked Kamala to be the last voice in the room.”

Supporting working-class Americans

One issue that Harris has consistently promoted, as a Senator and attorney general, is support for those affected by mortgage fraud and assisting homeowners more generally.

In 2011, Harris announced the creation of a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in California in the wake of the 2010 foreclosures crisis and has generally tried to provide greater protections to homeowners from mortgage fraud more generally.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Harris sponsored the RELIEF Act, a bill that aimed to provide mortgage relief and eviction relief for renters in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During her brief presidential campaign, Harris expanded upon these issues that are clearly of some personal importance. Her campaign proposed a US$3 trillion plan to reduce taxes for middle- and working-class families, as well as billions of dollars in tax credits for low-income renters and an overhaul of the cash bail system.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Harris has expanded upon previous efforts to assist working-class Americans, especially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic fallout.

During the vice presidential debate with Vice President Mike Pence in October, Harris stated that “the strength of the American economy is based on the strength and health of the American individual” and committed the potential Biden/Harris administration to overturning President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for high-earners and corporations.

Harris also claimed that a Biden/Harris administration would invest “in the people of our country, as opposed to passing a tax bill which had the benefit of letting American corporations go offshore to do their business.” She also committed to stating that the administration would not raise taxes on anybody making less than US$400,000 a year.

Health and climate spending

As a Senator, Harris endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, before shifting positions during her own presidential campaign. She now, like Biden, supports an extension of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, avoiding any potential internal administration conflict.

One issue where Biden’s 2020 platform and Harris’ record are in particular agreement is their joint commitment to spending billions, potentially trillions, to deal with climate change.

Biden’s own climate plan has promised a US$2 trillion spending and job creation plan to overhaul the US energy industry and to create potentially hundreds of thousands or millions of jobs in transforming American industry and infrastructure to greener alternatives.

Harris’ own support for climate-related issues illustrates she will be a committed ally for these efforts. Harris herself co-sponsored the Climate Equity Act with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that aimed to address the disproportionate impact of climate change upon low-income and diverse communities.

Big tech

Harris also brings to a potential Biden/Harris administration deep ties with American Big Tech. Harris has long cultivated personal relationships with American tech companies and executives, with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg a supporter of Harris’ Attorney General bid in 2010 and her subsequent Senate bid in 2016.

At a time when concerns are being raised worldwide over Big Tech “monopolies,” with a US congressional investigation itself raising these concerns, it appears unlikely that Vice President Kamala Harris would support any drastic action against Silicon Valley’s biggest corporations.

Harris was, however, in favor of efforts to strengthen antitrust enforcement, which stops short of calling for large American corporations, “Big Tech” in particular, to “break up.”

Harris’ economic priorities appear mostly in-line with those put forward by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Harris has proved she is in favor of greater measures to address climate change, including spending programs, ending tax cuts for wealthy Americans and corporations and extending health care coverage to more Americans.

With Harris picked as Biden’s vice presidential nominee, who is “understood as a moderate by the Street” says Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investor product at E-Trade Financial Corp, “there’s a bit more certainty around what a Biden administration would look like.”

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