The coronavirus accomplished what many Americans wished by pushing the 2020 presidential race off front pages and into the background. Meanwhile, the Democratic nomination process has been effectively settled and the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has begun mostly in the shadows of COVID-19 news.
Trump has maintained high visibility and achieved a slight uptick in approval ratings with his daily COVID-19 briefings, which invariably veer off into politics. With Bernie Sanders ending his campaign this week, Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but he doesn’t have a built-in platform to interact with Americans. He will have to beg, borrow and steal to make news from his coronavirus-induced political bunker.
Vox offers just such a suggestion – a succession of progressive policy positions grafted from the campaigns of other Democratic hopefuls, including progressives such as Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden has embarked on this path already by embracing Warren’s personal bankruptcy plan and modifying Sanders’ free public college concept by limiting it to students from families with less than $125,000 in annual income. In an article posted this week, Vox suggests nine more ideas to borrow, including one from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, that it argues will put badly needed zest into his campaign and enthusiasm in his supporters.
From Sanders, Vox recommends adopting his Medicare-for-All-in-an-Emergency plan, which would create a giant patch over a gaping hole in the nation’s safety net by ensuring every American has access to medical care. This approach may appeal to Americans who have seen their employer-provided health insurance evaporate when businesses close and furlough workers. The Sanders coronavirus plan also calls for investing in domestic health care supply chains and expanding community health centers.
Vox urges cribbing liberally from Insleee’s aggressive climate change package, such as a carbon tax, a carbon duty on imports that reflects their “climate cost” and a five-fold increase in clean energy research. “It’s safe to say that Inslee gave climate change the most concentrated attention of any presidential candidate,” Vox said. “In the process he laid out what an aggressive climate plan should look like, scaled to reduce emissions rapidly in both the United States and abroad.”
Michael Benet’s campaign repertoire provides two ideas worth adopting, Vox says. The most timely is the Colorado senator’s recession plan, which presciently called for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and cash relief when joblessness spikes. Benet’s proposal also mandated appointing Federal Reserve Board members who support “a monetary policy that prioritizes the typical American worker.” Benet’s other theft-worthy idea, according to Vox, is a plan to pay parents who work for raising their children, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities believes can reduce pull 3 million children out of poverty in America. A modest version of the concept is embodied in the Working Families Tax Relief Act, which Vox notes has been cosponsored by all but one Democratic US senator.
Julian Castro’s proposal for a nationwide lead cleanup plan is another winner in Vox’s view. The former secretary of Housing and Urban Development called for $5 billion per year for 10 years to eliminate lead from paint and soil and replace lead pipes, especially in schools.
From Cory Booker, Vox recommends Biden adopt his Farm System Reform Act, which would phase out factory farms by 2040 because of their potential negative impacts on humans, cruelty to animals and environmental damage. While the idea sounds revolutionary, the American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium on new factory farms and a recent poll showed 63 percent of farm-state Iowans support such a moratorium.
Vox highlights an electric school bus proposal supported by Sanders and Kamala Harris and the Sanders-Warren-Buttigieg “unions for all” sectoral bargaining proposal as ripe for picking. Also on the Vox swipe list is Warren’s plan to prosecute executive branch officials and corporate CEOs who self-deal or break the law.
Several of these ideas hold the promise of earned media attention and drawing Biden’s former rivals (and presumably their supporters) closer to his candidacy. Most of the ideas would well in the corridors and bubbles of social media, which may be the only interactive communication channel at Biden’s disposal, at least until well into the fall.
Most of the ideas on the Vox list are bold, but not off the charts for a progressive and liberal audience. They would flesh out and stretch out Biden’s existing moderate political agenda of returning the country to normalcy.
Whether these are good ideas or not is something for voters to decide. Adding them to the debate between Trump and Biden will sharpen their differences, put substance into what critics call his “empty phrases” and give voters more to think about when they cast their ballots, in person or by mail, this November.