Joe Biden campaign released the policy recommendations crafted by the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces ahead of next month Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
The “Unity Task Force” document which spans over 100 pages lays out policy recommendations on six key issues including climate change, criminal justice, education, immigration, health care, and the economy. The task force was formed in April after the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed Biden, with the progressive senator announcing that the two campaigns were joining forces to develop a unified set of recommendations ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
According to Biden’s campaign, the recommendations after weeks of negotiations between members of Biden and Sanders allies, experts, and politicians appointed to the group were submitted to the former vice president and the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee, which will draft the party’s platform.
“I commend the Task Forces for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country. 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 said in a statement announcing the recommendations.
The recommendations doesn’t adopt a full range of ambitious progressive policy Sanders has pushed throughout the primary, it does lay out a road map and Biden’s willingness to embrace some of these positions.
“Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country,” Sanders said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice.”
The climate task force recommends the most ambitious progressive plan out of all six issues. Co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and former Secretary of State John Kerry calls for a significant investment in renewable energy, including installing 500 million solar panels and manufacturing 60,000 wind turbines. a goal of eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035, achieving net-zero emissions for all new buildings by 2030, and making energy-saving upgrades to as many as 4 million buildings and 2 million households within five years.
However, the freshman congresswoman Green New Deal initiative was not included in the recommendations but recommends rejoining the Paris climate accord on day one, an agreement Kerry was the leading architect in negotiating as Secretary of State.
On criminal justice, a hotly issue following the death of George Floyd, the documents incorporated many of the House Democrats’ policing reform proposals such as banning police chokeholds, establishing a national database to track law enforcement officers discipline and termination records and establishing a national use of force standards. The recommendations stop short of progressives’ calls to defund the police, but conditions funds on police training focused on “de-escalation, crisis intervention, implicit bias, and peer intervention.”
The task force’s plan on health care calls for the establishment of a “high-quality affordable public option plan” through the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, extends Obamacare coverage to DACA recipients and allows illegal immigrants to purchase unsubsidized coverage. The plan doesn’t mentions, Sanders’s signature Medicare for All plan.
Regarding the economy, the one issue Trump has an edge over Biden in numerous polls, the task force dedicated a portion focused on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and the “pandemic-induced recession.” It also includes $15 an hour minimum wages, 12 weeks of paid family leave, repealing “right to work” laws, and supporting the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and the POWER Act.
The task force’s plan on education incorporates many of Democrats past and present proposed plan including guaranteed universal pre-K education, providing tuition-free community college for all students and those in the DACA immigration program, as well as tuition-free college for students whose families earn less than $125,000 per year. It also calls for capping student debt and forgiving up to $10,000, while doubling Pell Grant award and limit interest on student loans. The recommendation also calls for a ban on federal funding of charter schools and opposes private school vouchers.
On immigration, the policy group focused on repealing the majority of Trump administration policies enacted, including rescinding the travel ban and ending the prosecution of asylum seekers. The group said family unity would be a “guiding principle” for immigration policy and recommends that Biden order the Homeland Security Administration’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to “undertake a review of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and provide recommendations for redress.” It also recommends the reallocation of ICE resources and “demand transparency in, and independent oversight over, ICE and CBP’s activities.”
The document once adopted at the convention will provide the Democratic Party the platform it will run on against President Trump.