Biden’s Progressive Agenda

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“Progressives don’t love Joe Biden, but they’re learning to love his agenda”  – thank you to NAT Volunteer Nancy Dodge for pulling out the following key points!

By Matthew Yglesias, Jul 18, 2020

“His platform is in many ways a surprisingly progressive approach to policy that the left sees as a triumph of their own work in trying to change the terms of debate in American politics.”

“Biden envisions a massive public sector role for job creation,” points out Faiz Shakir, who managed Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign. He doesn’t think Biden has suddenly become a left-wing hero. But he credits Biden, Biden’s team, and mainstream Democrats more broadly with “understanding that in Covid times there needs to be thinking about bold practical measures.”

“It’s “he most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history of the party,” Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, a group famous (or infamous) for backing left-wing challengers to incumbent congressional Democrats, tells me.”

“The mass public has grown considerably more skeptical of American policing over the past four years according to a Pew survey released last week. In contrast to the prevailing attitudes of 2016, most Americans now say the police do a poor job of calibrating their use of force appropriately to the situation, that they do a poor job of treating all racial groups equally, and that they do a poor job of holding themselves accountable when misconduct occurs. That creates a public mood that is now favorable to many reform ideas Biden has embraced like curbing qualified immunity, conditioning federal police funding on new training and diversity initiatives, and reinvigorating federal oversight of police departments.

Biden wants to quadruple federal spending on low-income housing assistance.  He is proposing to triple federal spending on low-income K-12 schools.  He wants to double Pell Grants and make community college free. Separately from the housing assistance money, he’s calling for a $100 billion investment in an affordable housing trust fund.”

“His transportation platform includes a $10 billion special set-aside for transit projects in high-poverty areas.Then on health care, especially as modified by the joint task force with Bernie Sanders, Biden’s plans are more aggressive than they sound, featuring a Medicare-administered public option that, as Ella Nilsen explains, “would cover a range of people, including low-income Americans who are not eligible for Medicaid, and anyone who elects to choose the public option from the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Those who currently get health insurance from their employers would also be eligible.”

“The task force [with Bernie Sanders] process probably scored its biggest win for the left on the subject of climate change, where a group co-chaired by John Kerry and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accelerated the pace at which Biden calls for electricity to be 100 percent carbon-free.”

“Biden’s transition team, though still skeletal at this point, is encouraging to the left; it’s headed by Ted Kaufman, who is probably the most progressive member of the true Biden inner circle. But that inner circle also includes Bruce Reed, a longtime bête noir of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and is generally (as you would expect) a very establishment-oriented group of people.”

“Realistically, an administration led by Barack Obama’s vice president is going to feature a lot of personnel continuity with the Obama administration, whether the left likes it or not. The establishment’s own views have, however, shifted considerably to the left over the past 15 years, in part as a result of changes in the objective environment and in part because of shifts in public opinion.”

“In that sense, moderate Joe is nobody’s Trojan horse. But it’s still the case that when you peek at what’s inside, it’s a much more transformative agenda than a superficial glance at the outcome of the primaries would lead you to believe.”