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What to know about the key policies that got airtime in the presidential debate

Thursday night’s presidential debate may be more remembered for how the candidates delivered remarks on stage and the digs they took at one another rather than the issues top of mind for voters this election year — but there was plenty of policy that got airtime.

President Biden often stumbled through his answers, derailing his train of thought. And former President Donald Trump ignored questions about addressing climate change, accepting the results of the election and he reiterated false claims about immigration and his criminal trial.

Still, immigration, abortion and the economy were among the election-year questions the candidates were asked in the 90-minute CNN presidential debate. Here are a few of the issues that took center stage.

The economy and inflation

The first question of the night focused on rising prices.

Biden said he inherited from Trump, his predecessor, an “economy that was in free fall” thanks to a pandemic that roiled the economy and tangled supply chains. It was up to his administration, Biden said, to “try and put things back together again.”

In fact, government spending in the U.S. under both Biden and Trump also may have contributed to rising prices, putting more money in people’s pockets and enabling them to keep spending in the face of high prices.

Many prices were depressed early in the pandemic, however, so the comparison is less flattering if you start the clock when Biden took office. Since early 2021, consumer prices have risen 19%, while average wages have risen 16%. Wage gains have been outpacing price increases for the last year, so that gap should eventually close.

The federal debt grew substantially under both Trump and Biden. While the pandemic accounts for much of that red ink,

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