Biden 2020: Dearth of policy discussion ahead of US Presidential election

V Nivedita | Updated on September 26, 2020 Published on September 26, 2020

Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee   -  Bloomberg

Though Trump and Biden are all set to fight square off against each other in the upcoming presidential election, the difference in policy between them is not too great. 

With the presidential elections in the US less than two months away, the lack of discussion on policy matters is surprising many, including former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who in a recent interview expressed concern about the state of his party nominee Joe Biden’s campaign.

Sanders believes that Biden, and by extension the party, must focus on reviving the economy, and not place all bets that US President Donald Trump will lose because of his poor handling of the coronavirus crisis.  

But the fact of the matter is that Biden’s policies, be it on the economy or other issues, might not be something that excites most Americans. 


Biden’s ‘socialism’ 

Over the past weeks, Biden has been attacked by the Republican party, and has been called was ‘weak’ and a ‘Trojan horse for a radical left' by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence respectively. However, there is little truth to these claims. 

For the Left in the US, there are three big agendas - implement the ‘Medicare for all’ plan, tackle climate change and end the unending wars – and Biden will not be implementing any of them, if he is elected.  

The support for universal health-care, like the ‘Medicare for All’ plan, has seen a surge in recent times,  and a poll showed that 69 per cent of registered voters favoured it during the peak of the pandemic.

Instead of this scheme, Biden wants to fortify the Affordable Care Act, which he and President Obama helped pass in 2010. He has even gone on the record to say that would veto any the universal healthcare legislation if he was the president! 

The ‘Biden plan’ to takes the topic of climate change seriously. He wants to invest in infrastructure to withstand the impact of climate change, recommit to the Paris Climate Accord and become a net-zero emission nation before 2050, among others. However, the progressives in his party want a stricter policy, namely the Green New Deal, and ban all fracking activities in the nation. Biden is not willing to go that far.  

This could pose a problem as the support for the Green New deal is high among younger voters. Take the case of veteran politician Ed Markey, who defeated Joe Kennedy III in a primary race for the Senate seat in Massachusetts, as an example. Both candidates are progressives, but they key difference between them is that Markey supported the Green New Deal, while Kennedy did not. Though Kennedy was leading in opinion polls by a double-digit margin initially, Markey won the primary (55 per cent to Kennedy’s 44 per cent) because of the youth not only voted for him, but also campaigned for him. 

The biggest point of divergence between Biden and the American public is on foreign policy.

A recent poll shows that over 75 per cent of Americans believed that the US should prioritize domestic issues over foreign policy issues. Almost half (48 per cent) want the nation to be less militarily engaged in conflicts around the world. About 74 per cent want to bring back US troops from Iraq, 76 per cent of Americans want to bring back troops from Afghanistan.  

Biden’s track record is abysmal in this aspect – he has supported the US occupations of Afghanistan in 2001 and the Iraq invasion in 2003. In fact, he has gone on the record to say that there will not be a full withdrawal of troops from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also said that there will not be major cut in defence spending, and that he might even increase funding for drones, cyber security and special operations.  

Trump’s playbook 

Sanders’ plea to focus on the economy is good. Biden has many good plans, but there is a problem: some of these plans are like Trump’s vision.

Take the ‘Building back better’ plan for example. It seeks help promote manufacturing in the US, build infrastructure to meet the needs of the nation and help small businesses and entrepreneurs come out on the other side of this crisis strong, while demanding more from corporate America. These issues were the hallmark of Trump’s campaign in 2016.  

Biden is leading in almost every poll against Trump, and his problematic take on these issues will take a backseat as November 3 draws closer – this election will focus more on hot topics, such as the controversy surrounding the vacancy in the Supreme Court after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and not on policy matters that determine the quality of life for every day Americans.   

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Published on September 26, 2020
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