Meet the Candidates: Joe Biden

Joe Biden, former Vice President and former Delaware Senator: Of all the Democratic candidates, Biden needs the least introduction. Obama’s Veep of eight years, and a longtime member of the Senate before that, “Uncle Joe” has led the polls since the moment he announced his candidacy thanks to his household familiarity, less controversial talking points, and extroverted personality. His message is unique among a crop of candidates wanting to push America forward in new ways. Biden has staked his campaign on restoring pre-Trump normalcy.

Education: Biden wants to boost funding for low-income schools from $16 billion to $48 billion, with three clear priorities: pre-Kindergarten programs, raises for teachers, and Advanced Placement classes. Other programs would include boosting mental health and nursing support in struggling communities. In a break from the Obama years, his plan de-emphasizes testing. And he’s pushing for two years of free community college or technical schools.

Climate Change: After initially supporting a lackluster “middle ground” approach to addressing our global climate emergency, Biden has acknowledged elements of the Green New Deal in crafting a $1.7 trillion climate policy — particularly the linking environmental protection with job creation (hello high speed railways!) His plan is committed to 100% clean energy by 2050 with ten executive actions on day one for launching the process (ex: imposing methane pollution limits on oil and gas operations), and includes developing new (small) nuclear reactors to power the country.

Heathcare: He’s campaigning to rebuild and strengthen Obama’s legacy Affordable Care Act from the GOP attacks that have weakened it during the Trump presidency, and will include Medicare as a public option. And, Biden plans to expand accessibility to affordable plans: removing the income cap for financial assistance, and guaranteeing no family will spend more than 8.5% of their income on healthcare (including the pricier gold plans).

Criminal Justice: Biden has presented an ambitious reform package that includes: decriminalizing marijuana, ending the death penalty, abolishing private prisons, and eliminating both the cash bail system and mandatory minimums on nonviolent crimes. He also plans to create a $20 billion grant program to entice states to shift from incarceration to prevention. (Ironically, some of these plans include undoing laws Biden himself helped to create during his “tough on crime” War on Drugs years.)

Critics say… his old school approach (including a rather “handsy” style) and 35-year track record in the Senate are out of step with today’s more progressive Democratic Party and country, and the already gaffe-prone statesman has slipped up more in recent weeks causing many to question his mental fitness. On the issues of climate change, criminal justice, healthcare, and education, the most engaged Democratic voters seem to feel that Biden brings an insufficient 20th century approach to dire 21st century issues.

…and finally: Others say his appeal to the older voters and white working class swing state residents is exactly what we need to win in 2020.

To read up on all of Joe Biden’s policies, visit his website!