From the coronavirus to the environment, Biden plans to take government in new direction

  WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign often focused less on policies than his temperament and character, seeking to make the election a referendum on President Donald Trump’s four years in office. Now attention is turning to how he will govern. A review of Biden’s speeches, campaign website and interviews […]

 

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign often focused less on policies than his temperament and character, seeking to make the election a referendum on President Donald Trump’s four years in office.

Now attention is turning to how he will govern. A review of Biden’s speeches, campaign website and interviews suggests that his administration’s priorities are a mix of rolling back Trump administration actions, expanding on President Barack Obama’s initiatives and advocating for such progressive policies as criminal justice reform and investing in green jobs.

COVID-19

Biden has repeatedly said he will give priority to coronavirus advice from public health experts and let them drive America’s pandemic response.

Unlike Trump, Biden has been a vocal advocate for broader use of face masks to reduce the spread of infection, a position broadly backed by public health officials.

During the speech in which he introduced Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, he pledged that his administration would offer “a comprehensive plan to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and turn the corner on this pandemic.” Among the elements he cited were “masking; clear, science-based guidance; dramatically scaling up testing” and “giving states and local governments the resources they need to open schools and businesses safely.”

He has also said “scientists and public health experts should decide on [the] safety and efficacy” of any vaccine. “The White House should not weigh in on these matters or push the FDA to provide emergency authorizations prematurely,” he said in a statement in late July.

More recently, he has urged Congress to provide economic relief and public health funding, and for Trump to coordinate with his incoming officials on a vaccine distribution plan, warning that “more people may die if we don’t coordinate.”

Environment

Biden made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green-jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure. He’s also promised to restore environmental protections undone by the Trump administration and rejoin the Paris climate agreement, committing to the pact’s goal of preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

His climate plan calls for ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035. By no later than 2050, his plan would bring the country to net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases.

Health care

During the Democratic primaries, Biden diverged from many of his rivals by rejecting calls to move all Americans onto a single government health plan through “Medicare for All.”

Biden, who as vice president was a strong supporter of Obama’s push to enact the Affordable Care Act, instead argued that expanding the 2010 law and keeping a mix of government plans and employer-based insurance would be more practical, less costly and less disruptive.

Even so, he has called for a public option: a Medicare-like plan that would be available to Americans who cannot afford commercial insurance or live in a state that hasn’t expanded Medicaid eligibility. Biden favors increasing subsidies to help Americans purchase plans on insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

Gun control

Biden supports universal background checks and a ban on the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic rifles and higher-capacity magazines, along with tighter regulation or the buyback of those weapons currently in private hands.

He also supports restricting gun purchases and possession by fugitives, people convicted of hate crimes and those deemed unable to manage their own affairs, as well as banning online sales of weapons and ammunition and requiring background checks for people buying gun kits or 3-D printer codes for guns.

Policing

Biden has backtracked from the tough-on-crime positions he took during his decades in the Senate by advocating for reforms designed to limit the use of force by police, while rejecting left-wing calls to “defund” or dismantle local police departments.

Biden supported increased funding for “community-oriented policing” and hiring police forces that reflect the racial makeup of the communities they serve. He also proposed pairing police with social workers and experts on mental health, substance abuse and disability.

Race

Biden’s campaign laid out plans to close the wealth gap between Black and white Americans and combat inequities in the criminal justice system, the economy, housing and other areas; although he wasn’t an outspoken champion of paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans.

He’s said he wants to create a $30 billion Small Business Opportunity Fund to help kick-start public-private developments in communities of color. And Biden plans to invest in programs that increase homeownership among families of color.

Biden has also said he will direct the Justice Department to prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes, which have surged during the Trump presidency, and promised to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

Immigration

Biden’s proposed immigration platform aims to undo what he calls Trump’s “misguided policies.”

He’s said he’ll work with Congress to establish a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 10.5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally and that he supports compromise legislation for farmworkers that would potentially offer them a fast track to citizenship.

Biden has also said that he will end Trump’s national emergency declaration that rerouted billions in federal funds to the border wall. He would instead direct those resources toward improving security at ports of entry.

Biden plans to address the root causes of immigration from Central America through a plan that would target corruption, invest in civil society organizations and require the three countries to allocate resources toward reducing poverty, insecurity and violence.

Foreign policy

Biden has said he will restore the United States to a leadership role on the world stage, strengthening ties with allies and standing up to adversaries. This would reverse Trump’s “America first” doctrine, which has seen America retreat from many of its global spheres of influence. Biden has pledged to resume full U.S. participation in various multilateral organizations, from NATO to the United Nations.

Trade

Although Biden and Trump agreed that the U.S.-China trading relationship isn’t working to America’s advantage, Biden’s strategy in addressing those grievances is expected to be more consistent and rely on building alliances to deter Beijing, rather than engaging in a trade war.

Domestically, Biden’s plan includes $300 billion in public spending to boost research and development, and an additional $400 billion in a “Buy American” government procurement program to create demand and enhance domestic production.

Technology

Biden has pledged to expand broadband or wireless 5G to every American, including through a $20 billion investment in rural broadband.

Education

Biden supports “providing two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual.” He endorsed tuition-free public college for families earning under $125,000 and proposed forgiving all undergraduate federal student debt from two- and four-year public schools for debt-holders making up to $125,000.

Housing

Biden has pledged a sharp increase in Section 8 rent subsidies to ensure they’re available to all Americans whose income is low enough to qualify and said he will establish a $100 billion affordable housing fund to finance the upgrading of housing for low-income Americans.

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