Throughout the Democratic primary, Biden stuck to a more moderate platform, while Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and much of the rest of the crowded field courted progressives and advocated for broader structural changes. But as the United States faces a growing pandemic and unemployment rates at the highest levels in generations, Biden has been talking more and more about a presidency that approaches Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s, with bold progressive ambitions.
The policy document — the work of six joint task forces appointed by Biden and Sanders in May — would give the former vice president a road map to that goal.
“The goals of the task force were to move the Biden campaign into as progressive a direction as possible, and I think we did that,” Sanders told NPR. “On issue after issue, whether it was education, the economy, health care, climate, immigration, criminal justice, I think there was significant movement on the part of the Biden campaign.”
The document recommends that Biden commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 and to zeroing out net greenhouse gas emissions across the entire economy by 2050. The task forces call for funding universal prekindergarten across the country, expanding Social Security, raising the national minimum wage and eliminating cash bail, among many other long-sought progressive stances.
“I don’t think you could find any issue that we couldn’t find an agreeable resolution on, that everybody in the room said, ‘That will work,’ ” said Jared Bernstein, Biden’s former economic adviser in the Obama administration and a task force member. “I don’t think you could find anything in there that he won’t want to take a very close look at.”
“I commend the Task Forces for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country,” Biden said in a statement on Wednesday. “And I am deeply grateful to Senator Sanders for working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.”
Biden’s campaign has yet to publicly commit to doing anything other than “reviewing” the recommendations.
If he adopted them, the recommendations would shift Biden to the left, but they would not completely transform the platform he has been running on for more than a year.
“We did not have any impressions that we were going to turn Joe Biden into Bernie Sanders. That was not going to happen. That did not happen,” said Faiz Shakir, who managed Sanders’ presidential campaign and helped coordinate the task forces.