Biden-Sanders task forces unveil joint goals for party unity

Biden-Sanders task forces unveil joint goals for party unity

WASHINGTON — Political task forces Joe Biden formed with onetime rival Bernie Sanders to solidify support among the Democratic Party’s progressive wing recommended Wednesday that the former vice-president embrace major proposals to combat climate change and institutional racism while expanding health care coverage and rebuilding a coronavirus-ravaged economy.

But they stopped short of urging Biden’s full endorsement of policies that could prove too divisive for some swing voters in November, like universal health coverage under “Medicare for All” or the sweeping Green New Deal environmental plan.

The groups, formed in May to tackle health care, immigration, education, criminal justice reform, climate change and the economy, sought to hammer out a policy road map to best defeat President Donald Trump. Their 110 pages of recommendations should help shape the policy platform Democrats will adopt during their national convention next month — even though the entire party platform adopted in 2016 ran only about 50 pages.

The task forces sought to help Biden, a centre-left establishment candidate, engage skeptical progressives who’d backed other 2020 candidates, especially Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is under consideration for Biden’s running mate. Biden hoped the groups would promote party unity and help him avoid a repeat of 2016, when many Sanders supporters remained disillusioned enough that they stayed home rather than support Hillary Clinton against Trump.

They recommend that Biden commit to moving the U.S. to being fully powered by renewable energy, and meeting other key environmental benchmarks, by 2035. That’s far more ambitious than the 2050 deadline he embraced during the primary. They also call for a 100-day moratorium on deportations and a series of steps to overhaul the economy in an effort to reduce economic and racial inequality.

“While Joe Biden and I, and our supporters, have strong disagreements about some of the most important issues facing our country, we also understand that we must come together in order to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history,” Sanders, a Vermont senator, said in a statement. Biden thanked Sanders for “working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.”

Still, the recommendations don’t include a ban on hydraulic fracturing that could hurt Biden in the energy-producing swing state of Pennsylvania. There’s also no endorsement for Medicare for All, which dominated debate during the Democratic presidential primary but could alienate voters afraid of losing their current, employer-based private health coverage. Instead, the recommendations list ways to expand health insurance coverage by building on the Obama administration’s signature law.

“We still believe that Medicare for All is the right way to go and we’re still going to continue to fight for that,” said Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, who co-led the health care task force. “But this was a situation where Joe Biden had already put a stake in the sand on the Affordable Care Act and it was part of his legacy with President Obama.”

Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, served on the environmental advisory group and said she was encouraged by the finished product. She noted that it does not include specific recommendations on how many new jobs Biden hopes to create in the sector or spell out how much money he would commit to making his promises a reality. Also omitted is the Green New Deal, the comprehensive anti-climate change plan that Prakash’s group champions.

Still, Prakash said Biden making the recommendations a centerpiece of his campaign can help bolster his support among young people, Latinos and working class voters.

“If Joe Biden takes this plan that he has signed off on and campaigns really, really hard on it, if he understands the economic opportunity that exists in tackling the climate crisis, if he can speak to the level of urgency and the level of swift, scalable action that we need to be taking, he will appeal to so many of the voters that he needs to unite,” Prakash said.

Their conclusions come as Biden and Democratic Party officials enter the main phase of writing the platform. The campaign’s and the party’s entire policy apparatus acquired added weight after the pandemic, resulting economic collapse and national reckoning on systemic racism spurred Biden to start talking in bolder tones about the need to “rewrite the economy.”

Biden plans to travel Thursday to Pennsylvania, where he will begin detailing an economic package that his aides pitch as a direct preview of the policies he would pursue should he win. Progressives who have been in contact with Biden’s campaign noted that he’s consulted with Sanders and Warren while devising it.

Biden is expected to emphasize American manufacturing and labour policies, including how government can aim its buying power to bolster U.S. manufacturing. That will likely include an emphasis on ratcheting up government purchases of medical supplies that would address the pandemic.

“This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and R&D (research and development) since World War II, and that’s just a part of the plan,” said senior adviser Jake Sullivan.

___

Barrow reported from Atlanta.

Will Weissert And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press

Politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rimbey Meals on Wheels volunteer driver Diana Pearman picks up a bin of supplies to start her week of delivering the hot meals.
photo submitted
Rimbey’s Meals on Wheels program continues to meet the need

Volunteers are always welcome to help with the long-running FCSS program

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

(Pixabay photo)
Spoooky, scaaaary: The ultimate Halloween-in-quarantine playlist

All the costumes, trick-or-treating and spooky-season fun is essentialy off the table due to COVID-19

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Most Read