Former Vice President Joe Biden has consistently polled at the top of the 2020 Democratic candidates angling to challenge President Trump. Elected a senator from Delaware in 1972 and tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008, Biden is a longtime pillar of the Democratic establishment. He is running a more moderate campaign in comparison to progressive candidates like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Here is where Biden stands on some of the top issues voters care about in the 2020 campaign.
Biden often emphasizes his connection to former President Barack Obama — who remains very popular among Democrats — on the campaign trail. He regularly touts the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, to highlight his health care bona fides and remind voters of his Obama ties.
“Health care is personal to me, ObamaCare is personal to me,” he said in an August TV commercial that ran in Iowa. “We’ve got to build on what we did because every American deserves affordable health care.”
Biden is a staunch defender of ObamaCare and therefore does not favor a major overhaul of the health care system like “Medicare-for-All” embraced by more progressive candidates. Instead, he supports a government-run public option that would compete with private insurance, similar to what Obama and many Democrats attempted to work into the Affordable Care Act but could not pass in the final bill.
Biden’s public option would be separate from Medicare and would not outlaw private insurance, as other Democrats have advocated for in their “Medicare-for-all” plans.
Climate and environment
Like most 2020 Democrats, Biden has been critical of Trump’s handling of climate issues, specifically his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
In a September town hall about climate change on CNN, Biden said Trump is “dead wrong on basically everything across the board,” regarding climate. “We’ve got to start choosing science over fantasy here.”
Biden has said he supports the concept of the Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. The resolution seeks to mobilize the federal government in the fight against climate change while achieving ambitious social justice goals. On his campaign website, Biden also refers to climate change as a national security threat and promises to fight “polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities.”
‘We’ve got to start choosing science over fantasy here.’
— Joe Biden
Despite what is an ambitious plan to attack climate change, Biden sports one of the more moderate climate plans in the primary field. He would spend just $1.7 trillion over 10 years on his climate plan and he sets a goal of net-zero carbon emissions for the United States by 2050. That is approximately half of what Warren’s plan would cost and about one-tenth of the price for Sanders’ plan.
Biden also would not ban fracking, a controversial method of extracting underground natural gas reserves — another contrast with Warren and Sanders.
Economy and minimum wage
With corporate profits and income inequality now big issues in the Democratic primary, Biden takes a middle-of-the-road approach to this issue as he does with many others.
He advocates a hike in the corporate income tax from 21 percent to 28 percent. Others in the race have pushed to return the corporate income tax rate to 35 percent, which is the level it was at before Trump and congressional Republicans passed a tax reform law in 2017.
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Biden also does not support a wealth tax, which would place a levy on the net worth of some of the richest American families. Sanders, Warren and Pete Buttigieg have all backed such a tax.
Where Biden does fall in line with his party’s progressives, however, is on a $15 minimum wage. Nearly every member of the primary field has endorsed such a hike, and House Democrats passed a bill to that effect last July.
Biden has sharply criticized Trump’s actions on immigration, including family separation, restricted access to asylum and the border wall. He has also vowed to stop what he calls “inhumane” treatment of illegal immigrants in detention facilities, though many of the conditions that gained attention under Trump existed under the Obama-Biden administration as well.
“Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants,” Biden’s campaign website says. “It’s wrong, and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president.”
A Central American migrant takes a nap in the shade under a freight train car, during his journey toward the US-Mexico border, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca State, Mexico, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
While some moderates in the Democratic primary have said they would accept some physical barrier at the U.S. southern border in some circumstances, Biden has stated he is against it. Additionally, he supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and says he would continue Obama’s policy of “addressing the root causes that push desperate people to flee their homes in the first place” by giving aid to countries including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Biden breaks with most Democratic candidates on whether or not illegal border crossings should be decriminalized, however, saying that such irregular entries should remain criminal offenses rather than civil.
Biden has made headlines this election cycle as he’s flip-flopped on the federal legalization of marijuana, which has become a popular position not just among Democrats but in the general public too.
“It’s a debate, and I want a lot more [data] before I legalize it nationally,” Biden said in November, according to Business Insider. “I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
After taking criticism from the left, Biden later reversed course to adopt a more mainstream position within the Democratic Party — calling for the rescheduling of the drug, expunging prior convictions and allowing states to legalize it themselves.
In November, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity and Reinvestment and Expungement Act 24-10. The bill would decriminalize marijuana federally while supporting members of marginalized communities who start marijuana businesses.
Biden also takes a more moderate stance than many in his party on voting rights for individuals convicted of a felony. Biden would allow felons who have served their time and are out of prison to vote while other 2020 contenders, including Sanders, entertain the idea of allowing felons who are still incarcerated to cast ballots.
Like the liberals in his party, however, Biden opposes the death penalty and would move to abolish it. The Trump administration has pushed to resume federal executions despite legal hurdles.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Jack Durschlag contributed to this report.