Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Biden's economic plan

John Cassidy (The New Yorker) is up for Broadcasting Joe Biden’s Economic Program

A few days ago, Bernie Sanders warned Joe Biden’s campaign that it needed to broaden its focus from attacking Donald Trump. “You got to give people an alternative or reason to vote for you other than saying, ‘I’m not Donald Trump,’ ” Sanders, who is supporting Biden, told PBS. “And that means talking about an economics program, which Biden has. It’s not as strong as I would like it—it’s not the Bernie Sanders program, despite what Trump will tell you. But it is a strong program that will improve the lives of many millions of people.”

… if Congress passed Biden’s economic policy agenda, and it worked as designed, it would make life easier for countless working Americans who need a helping hand.

Skipping many details …

Here are some specifics. Targeting working parents who have kids under school age and are struggling to afford day care, Biden has proposed a national pre-K program for all children ages three and four. (Other rich countries, such as France and Germany, already have such a program.) For people nearing retirement age who can’t find an affordable health-care plan, Biden has pledged to lower the eligibility age for Medicare from sixty-five to sixty. For low-income families struggling to find an affordable place to live, he has promised to make rent subsidies more widely available by expanding the Section 8 federal-housing-voucher program. For young people who want to go to college but are worried about racking up student debt, he has pledged to eliminate tuition payments entirely at two-year community colleges and to eliminate tuition payments at four-year public colleges and universities for students from families that earn less than a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars a year.

… the sums involved in rolling out these and other Biden programs would be considerable.

You might ask where all this money would come from. A Biden Administration would raise most of it by reversing the tax cuts for corporations and high-income households that were enacted in the feed-the-rich tax bill that Trump and the Republicans pushed through in 2017, and also by raising some other taxes targeted at the wealthy. …

… To break through the cacophony of Trump noise, Biden, Harris, and other Democrats need to be out there every day ballyhooing their spending plans, as well as other proposals that wouldn’t affect the federal budget but that would boost the budgets of working families.

The Biden-Harris ticket wants to guarantee all Americans twelve weeks of paid medical and family leave. It would increase the national minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour, which would have a big impact on low-paid workers …

Of course, Biden’s policy platform could be better. A couple of personal quibbles: it doesn’t address the self-dealing and greed of top corporate executives, which has been evident again during the pandemic; and it doesn’t adequately confront rising monopoly power, especially in the tech sector. But it contains a lot of other progressive proposals, and compared to the alternative—four more years of plutocracy thinly disguised as populism—it’s infinitely preferable. Between now and November 3rd, everyone associated with the Biden campaign, and, indeed, everyone who wants to see the back of Trump, should seize every opportunity to make this clear.

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