Joe Biden: The Man with the Plan

Photo by Todd Trapani

With the election only a few weeks away, Joe Biden has spent the last few months prolifically publishing his vision for America’s future. The man is on his way to putting out more policy platform than any candidate in American history, enough so to even rival his former competition for Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren, whose unofficial slogan was, “I have a plan for that.” As his platform grows, one thing is clear, he is certainly not doing it alone.

In the past few months, Biden has released countless policies that show a definite influence from former competition senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as from his running mate Kamala Harris. He addresses and does a course correction on issues that the American people have vocally said are the most important to them while going into far greater detail on plans he’s held firm on since the beginning. If nothing else, you have to give the man credit for listening, learning, and pushing to do better. Of the countless problems plaguing our country today, Biden appears to have a plan for just about everything.

There is only one problem; nobody seems to have noticed. That is why with little fanfare, we’re highlighting Biden’s policies on 3 issues we believe the American people are extremely interested in. Understand that this is just an overview, and if you really want to learn about his policies, you will need to visit his campaign website, where he goes into excruciating detail on dozens of plans for how to Build Back Better.

The Climate: Only a year and a half ago, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey proposed a framework for addressing Climate Change more bold and far reaching than any other environmental policy that has ever been proposed. The Green New Deal, as its name may suggest, promises to be one of the most progressive pieces of legislation since Roosevelt’s New Deal ushered America out of the Great Depression. In short, it’s a ten year plan to transition America to 100% clean and renewable energy, thus stopping the existential threat Climate Change presents humanity while creating countless well paying jobs for the American people. The initial response from the right was predictable, derision. Many republican pundits called it a laughable folly, frivolous, and a product of ultraliberal vanity, despite countless scientists supporting it.

Surely the majority of democrats must have had a more progressive-fueled love for its unveiling though, right? Actually, the response lacked a lot of enthusiasm even from Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Despite the Green New Deal being a nonbinding resolution(essentially a symbolic gesture), Pelosi would not even bring it to a vote in the House. It’s safe to say then that the Green New Deal, only a year or two ago, was widely regarded as just about the most progressive policy out there as well as a pipe dream by many folks on both sides of the aisle. So where do Democrats, specifically Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, stand on perhaps one of the most progressive plans of all time to address one of the biggest issues Americans will face, Climate Change?

Joe Biden has said repeatedly and emphatically that he believes the Green New Deal is “a crucial framework” for dealing with Climate Change. He believes it would take on the monumental problem posed with the appropriate sense of urgency and epic scale required to reach an appropriate solution while acknowledging that our environment and economy are “completely and totally” interwoven. His plan goes into painstaking detail regarding how he will rally the world, stand up to the power of major polluters, create millions of well paying clean energy jobs, and fulfill an obligation to workers and communities most impacted by Climate Change. While during the first debate, he said the Biden plan is not the Green New Deal, it certainly resembles it in all discernable ways.

Systematic Racism: The tragic murder of George Floyd ignited worldwide protests for civil rights, justice reform, freedom of speech, and the lives of every black person in America. It has put the inequality people of color still face in America under a microscope, drawing systematic racism into harsh focus. Floyd’s death marks the loss of life of yet another innocent black man. His name will be remembered along with Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, and countless other innocent Americans who have lost their lives due to an unjust system. Reader, perhaps you’re wondering, how do you tackle a problem that has plagued America since its very conception? How do we fix this?

Although the issue of racial inequality in America runs deep, Biden does offer a far reaching roadmap, which promises to be a good starting off point. Although he may not be able to “fix” racism, he can certainly address injustice, wealth inequality, disproportionate educational gaps, and disadvantaged communities, which is exactly what Biden pledges to do. What specifically does this amount to? The short answer, as you may have guessed, is too much to include here, but there are some highlights below. Just as a reminder, this is yet another issue which is addressed in painstaking detail on Biden’s website.

In terms of economic equality, the plan would invest $50 billion in public-private venture capital for black and brown entrepreneurs, expand access to $100 billion in low interest business loans, and empower financial institutions that support businesses owned by black and brown entrepreneurs through a collective $150 billion investment. He also proposes to start a federally funded small business non profit incubator that would provide resources, advice, and provide all small business owners a fair shot at the American Dream. In addition Biden’s plan would reform Opportunity Zones, which are currently being exploited by billionaires, in an effort to make them more community focused. This includes investing in smaller community businesses that produce jobs in disadvantaged communities.

Another worthy target included in this platform is housing. Americans of color are statistically far less likely to own their home, and to address this Biden is proposing a $15K advanceable tax credit for middle class Americans buying their first home while also addressing exclusionary zoning regulations. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40–50% of Americans of Color have been shown to not have housing security, meaning they don’t know if they will be able to pay their rent. Biden’s plan addresses this as well by promising to build 1.5M affordable homes.

As for education equality, Biden plans to start by addressing student loan debt, an issue that disproportionately affects Americans of color. He proposes immediately cancelling a minimum of $10K of student loan debt per debtor due to the pandemic, forgiving all federal student loan debt for those who make less than $125K a year and attended public colleges or historically black universities, doubling the Pell Grant maximum, fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program(which is perhaps one of America’s biggest broken promises in terms of student loan debt), and to finally crackdown on predatory lenders attempting to profiteer off of America’s future. In addition his plan focuses on funding and including HBCUs in the conversation on some of the biggest problems America faces today.

In short: He plans to combat the issue of systemic racism by attacking the very institutions which it has seeped into for years, the economy, housing, and education. There are so many more extremely specific policies included in Biden’s Plan that would no doubt help address systematic racism, like ensuring clean drinking water, redeveloping brownfield properties, taking land into trusts for Tribes, rehabilitating people committed of crimes and ensuring they have housing, providing access to mental health services, and opportunities, in addition to countless other policies.

Healthcare: In the last 3 years, Medicare for All(M4A) has gained a monumental amount of traction. It is an issue that was given a national spotlight that reignited the conversation in 2016 when Bernie Sanders, our unabashed progressive senator from Vermont, ran against Hillary Clinton for a spot on the Democratic presidential ticket. His extremely vocal support of the policy has no doubt resulted in the growing public support we’re experiencing. Polls as recent as 2019 and 2020 show approximately two-thirds of American voters said they support M4A. Despite being a statistically popular policy, sadly this conversation must start in the same place it always does: What the heck is Medicare for All?

Medicare for all in a nutshell is a single payer program, meaning a single public, or quasi public run insurance company would finance all healthcare, covering all Americans and it would replace all or most other options. While it may seem counter productive to lower costs by eliminating competition, this style of healthcare has proven to do just the opposite around the world. At the heart of M4A’s ability to reduce cost is collective bargaining. If all Americans were bargaining as a collective, they could demand lower prices.

So how does Biden’s plan compare to M4A? At the heart of Biden’s plan is the idea that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. While it certainly is not M4A, as progressive critics have pointed out for months, there are many things in Biden’s plan that M4A proponents can get excited about. It starts by creating a public option, something Obama campaigned for right up until the very last days before the Affordable Care Act was passed. The biggest items in the pro column of a public option are collective bargaining and expanded coverage. That means more people will be covered and lower overall cost for all Americans.

Who does the plan expand coverage to? Since many states chose not to take up the call to expand Medicare, there are roughly 5 million low income, uninsured Americans who would otherwise be covered. Biden’s public option offers these Americans relief and automatically enrolls them in the public option. He also proposes lowering the minimum age for Medicare from 65 to 60. You may be wondering, “So what? What’s the difference?” If you’re a progressive, you may even be thinking yeah but when’s that restriction age getting dropped to 0? Who cares about lowering the eligibility age by a few years? There’s no way that’s enough. Well, millions of Americans care about this small change it turns out. This one move would increase Americans covered by Medicare by nearly 35%, which equates to millions and millions of Americans getting affordable health care. Beyond that, an affordable public option offers every American in the country an opportunity to get on an M4A-Like plan. By Biden’s estimates, expanding Medicare and creating a public option would get 98% of Americans insured, closing the gap of uninsured Americans by countless millions.

Getting more Americans covered probably sounds great, but if you’re lucky enough to already have healthcare coverage, you may also be wondering how this plan benefits you directly. Perhaps you’re someone who likes their current insurance and who would have no intentions of moving to a public option even if there was one. What about you? One of the biggest and best things Biden’s plan does is target one of the highest costs Americans face in dealing with their health, prescription drugs. Whether you’re a diabetic lamenting at the ever rising cost of insulin, or an outraged American who’s tired of watching the Martin Shkreli’s of the world raise the cost of your medication from $13/pill to $750/pill, this move should matter to you.

So how does Biden’s plan lower these costs? You may or may not know that Medicare is not authorized to negotiate prescription drug costs. As a result, drug companies have been able to raise the list price of their products far quicker than the rate of inflation. Biden’s plan starts by immediately eliminating this outrageous exception. For new products facing little to no competition, his plan would establish an independent review board that will suggest a list price based on external reference pricing research, meaning they would compare the cost in other countries. That suggested rate would be what Medicare and Biden’s public option would pay. The plan would also limit generic drug increases to the rate of inflation, stopping prescription drug profiteering, similar to the one the American people have seen first hand regarding insulin pricing. Perhaps one of the most popular and important components of the plan is to allow for Americans to purchase prescriptions from other countries, something that some lawmakers have long suggested.

To the original question, why does any of this matter to someone who’s happy with their current insurance or someone with no desires to join the public option? If you could save thousands of dollars a year on prescriptions by joining a public option, what reason would any American have not to? For other insurance companies to stay competitive, they will need to negotiate lower prices as well. As the costs lower for those on either government plan, other providers will, out of necessity, be forced to negotiate lower costs as well. A successful public option benefits all Americans, whether they’re on it or not.

Of course, Biden has dozens of other really important ideas for improving healthcare in America. Some of the best in our humble opinion include eliminating surprise billing, restoring funding for Planned Parenthood, expanding mental health access, reducing the maternal mortality rate, and defending healthcare protections for all regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

There you have it, Biden’s stances on three issues Americans have repeatedly said are the most important to them. He would take up the framework of the Green New Deal to prevent the eminent dangers of Climate Change while creating well paying jobs for Americans and putting America at the forefront of this issue. The Biden Plan aims to tackle systemic racism on all fronts by addressing the various components of our everyday life that it has seeped into, such as housing, the economy, and our education system. For progressive critics of his healthcare plan, it’s hard to deny that it would move the needle in the right direction, expanding coverage and lowering the cost of healthcare across the country. Certainly, don’t just take our word for it reader; be sure to head over to the Biden campaign site to check out the fifty or so very elaborate plans for different issues the American people are facing.

Most importantly, get out and vote! Cast an educated, informed vote for whichever candidate you see fit.

One final thought, if you’re not planning to vote by mail or early, please consider checking out our guide to voting in style. It addresses all the things you should bring to the polls with you to insure you beat voter suppression. After all, what good is it to know whose plan you like, if you can’t bear the never-ending lines long enough to cast your vote?

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Aaron Locke Londraville is a lover of books, sci-fi, theatre, film, and politics. He’s got everything nerds need to figure out how to vote or what to watch.

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Aaron Locke Londraville

Aaron Locke Londraville

Aaron Locke Londraville is a lover of books, sci-fi, theatre, film, and politics. He’s got everything nerds need to figure out how to vote or what to watch.

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