What the Trump-Biden presidential debate on Thursday is really about

With former President Donald Trump on the stage for this Thursday’s debate, no one should expect a deep dive into the issues. Inevitably, the theatrics of the event will overshadow the substance.

But it’s important not to be distracted by the sound and fury, because Trump and the GOP are telling us quite clearly what they intend to do on everything from tariffs to mass deportations, to banning abortion pills and implementing Project 2025.

Their agenda is neither secret nor subtle. So, cut through the bluster and take a moment to pay attention to what a Trump 2.0 presidency would mean.

• Deporting millions of migrants. On MSNBC this weekend, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts — one of the architects of Project 2025 — explained: “We need to have the biggest mass deportation system ever in the history of America because it is unjust, illegal and evil that more than 10 million illegal aliens have come to this country.”

• Imposing huge financial burdens on the middle class. Trump is floating the idea of eliminating the income tax and replacing it with trillions of dollars in new tariffs — most of which would be passed onto American consumers. The result would be massive tax cuts for the ultra-rich at the expense of middle- and lower-class Americans.

• Turning the Department of Justice into a weapon of political retribution, against his critics and the news media.

• Pardoning the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, including rioters who attacked police officers defending the Capitol.

• Invoking the Comstock Act to criminalize abortion, even without a federal ban.

• Appointing two more justices to the Supreme Court, solidifying conservative control for decades.

• Purging the federal workforce. “The number needs to be more than 50,000, considering that there are more than 2 million federal employees,” Heritage’s Kevin Roberts told Symone Sanders and Michael Steele. “Ultimately, we have to devolve power from the imperial city of Washington back to the people.”

• Deploying the active-duty military to cities run by Democrats. As The New York Times notes, “He came close to unleashing the active-duty military on racial justice protests that sometimes descended into riots in 2020 and remains attracted to the idea. Next time, he has said, he will unilaterally send federal forces to bring order to Democratic-run cities.”

• Abandoning NATO and Ukraine. Just days ago, Trump echoed Russian talking points by claiming that the prospect of Ukraine’s entry into NATO was “really why this (full-scale) war started.”

As you watch Thursday’s debate, remember to take all of this both seriously and literally.

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