Raleigh, N.C. – On Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden announced new policies that are aimed to help him reach out to progressive Democrats. Specifically, to reach out to Bernie Sanders supporters. The new policy moves come after Biden’s recent discussion with Bernie Sanders.
There are two separate proposals that Biden issued. One addressed Medicare while the other addresses student debt. Both were key components of Sanders campaign and extremely popular with progressives. Biden’s plans, however, do not match the full magnitude of what Sanders was proposing in his campaign.
Under Biden’s Medicare plan, he would lower the age for participation in Medicare from 65 to 60. This would increase access to the government run healthcare plan, but would not extend the access to all Americans as Sanders had proposed. Biden has made a staple of his campaign to focus on expanding access through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
This move would grant access to millions of Americans, but also raises questions. Sanders has promoted an incremental approach in the past of allowing Americans 55 and older to purchase into Medicare. While Biden did not lower the age to 55, he does seem to like extending the option for Medicare to age 60.
There are many ways that Democrats will twist this, however. First, Employers will no doubt be cast as the enemy. If employees choose to go to the Medicare plan, as The Hill article points out, employers will be left with a younger workforce. Younger people have lower medical bills. This would lead to significant growth in Medicare that would have to be offset. Think new employer taxes or personal taxes to offset.
Under his student debt proposals, Biden is promising to wipe away student debt for some Americans. Specifically, if you are low or middle income and attended a public university, a historically black college or university or a underfunded minority-serving institution. This proposal would be much less than the proposed debt forgiveness by Sanders, but also alienates a lot of Americans.
The proposal would alienate Americans who choose to attend private colleges or many religious institutions. According to data, 3.8 million Americans enrolled in private universities in the fall of 2019. That’s just over 20% of all college attendees, who would generally be left out of the Biden plan. The plan heavily favors minorities.
Sanders recently dropped out of the race and Biden will need the support from his voters it help him win the general election in November. Previous reports are that many Sanders supporters would break from the Democrats again if Sanders lost. Biden will continue to need to move left to win these supporters over.
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