Joe Biden Should Reject the Far-Left’s Demands | Citizens Against Government Waste

Joe Biden Should Reject the Far-Left’s Demands

The WasteWatcher

With all eyes rightfully focused on combatting COVID-19, it can be easy to forget that election season is right around the corner. 

With the departure of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) from the presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden is all but certain to be the Democratic nominee for president.  Although Mr. Biden did earn Sen. Sanders’ endorsement this week, he is still far from wooing the entirety of Sen. Sanders’ supporters and their pie-in-the-sky political platform.

In an open letter to the former Vice President, seven influential youth activist organizations, many of which endorsed Sanders, issued a set of policy demands deemed necessary to earn their support.  Unsurprisingly, the list included the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free undergraduate college tuition, and the cancelation of all student loan debt.  The groups also went on to name individuals that should be given roles in a future Biden administration, particularly supporters and staffers of Sen. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 

Though he is by far the most progressive major party candidate in recent memory, Mr. Biden’s platform clearly does not go far enough for the left wing of his party.  For example, the Biden campaign website calls for net-zero emissions by 2050, which is ambitious in itself.  Yet, his plan is 20 years behind the groups’ demand for “100 percent Clean Energy by 2030.”  This is only part of the massive Green New Deal proposal, which is estimated to cost anywhere between $52 to $93 trillion over the course of a decade.  In fact, Mr. Biden was staunchly opposed to many of the policies the Far-Left is now demanding of him.

In an April 9, 2020 Mediumpost, Mr. Biden  continued inching leftward in an attempt to shore up support among the Sanders wing of the party. Though short on specifics, the post called for lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 and forgiving student loan debt for low and middle income individuals.

The details on how these plans will be financed is murky.  Mr. Biden wrote that any new Medicare costs would be financed out of general revenues.  This is hardly reassuring, considering that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is on track to be insolvent by 2026.  As The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote on April 12, most solutions to put Medicare on solid financial footing call for incrementally raising the age of eligibility, not lowering it.  Instead, the new Biden plan would make roughly 20 million additional Americans eligible. 

This is in direct contrast to Mr. Biden’s comments on Medicare for All during the campaign.  During the February 7 debate, Biden slammed Sanders’ plan, saying, “It will cost more than the entire federal budget we spend now.”  With his pivot to appease the Bernie Bros, Mr. Biden is clearly more concerned with appeasing the Far-Left than he is with sound fiscal policy.

It is also unclear exactly how much student debt forgiveness would cost, by it certainly will not be cheap, and even Mr. Biden admits it would require a tax increase.  It does not appear to be as sweeping as the $2.2 trillion debt forgiveness plan Sen. Sanders proposed during the campaign, but at least he was honest enough to admit up front that his plan would require raising an additional $2.4 trillion in taxes.

In addition to progressive organizations, Far-Left members of Congress remain lukewarm toward his candidacy.  In an April 13 interview, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called Biden’s proposal to lower the age of Medicare eligibility “almost insulting,” noting that four years ago Hillary Clinton supported lowering the age to 50.  Moreover, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said she does not believe Biden’s polices were the reason he won, saying his victory over Sanders does not indicate voters have rejected Medicare for All.  While this may be a fair claim on its face, polling shows 3 out of every 5 Americans oppose a Medicare for All plan that would require people to pay more in taxes—something even its most ardent backers admit it would do.

While it seems like Democratic primary voters rejected Sanders’ socialist platform in favor of a more moderate one, it is clear that Biden will have to embrace extreme policies in order to satisfy and motivate his party’s aggressive Far-Left wing.  Rather than capitulating, Mr. Biden should reject these demands as unrealistic and wasteful, a strategy that won him the nomination.  Only time will tell if he has the courage to do so, but if Mr. Biden continues to appease his left flank with irrational promises of a massive expansion of the size, scope, and power of the federal government, then it is safe to say he will have a lot to answer for through the November elections.

-- Jack Fencl

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