Bernie Sanders Has Pushed Joe Biden Pretty Far to the Left

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Jacob Schlesinger made a point that I’ve also made a few times before: Bernie Sanders may not be on track to be our next president, but there’s no question that he’s accomplished a big part of what he set out to do four years ago. Joe Biden might seem like the most moderate of Democrats, but he’s been pushed pretty far to the left:

On taxes, health care, climate change and labor rights, Mr. Biden proposes a significantly bigger government role than Hillary Clinton did during her 2016 presidential bid and what the Obama-Biden ticket advocated during their two White House campaigns.

….Mr. Biden proposes tax and spending increases equivalent to 1.5% of U.S. gross domestic product, more than double the level Mrs. Clinton advocated four years ago, and higher than the budget blueprints from the end of President Obama’s term, according to a recent study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “What’s being called moderate now would have been the far left eight years ago,” says Matthew Chingos, an education expert at the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

….The Biden proposal is more ambitious than Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 health plan. His would cost the government as much as $1.3 trillion, net, over 10 years, compared with $250 billion for hers, according to analyses by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And the Biden plan goes beyond what Barack Obama envisioned in what ultimately became the Affordable Care Act. Among other differences, Mr. Biden would allow workers with employer coverage to buy into a government health-care plan—a concept neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton raised.

“That’s a huge deal,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. He estimated that would mean millions more “low-and-modest-income workers could get substantial health-care cost relief.”

Joe Biden is obviously no Bernie Sanders. His policy agenda may be to the left of Hillary Clinton’s but his proposed spending level is far lower than Bernie’s. Still, even if Bernie didn’t get his revolution, you might say that at least he’s gotten a bit of a rebellion. Given the political inertia of a country the size of the United States, that’s not bad.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate