What are his key policy promises?
Mr Biden has made clear that health care remains a top priority for him. It’s an issue that is deeply personal for him; his first wife and young daughter were killed in a car crash in 1972 and his oldest son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. “I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have the health care they needed immediately,” he said during the campaign.
Mr Biden said he will expand the Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of the Obama administration which expanded health insurance to millions of Americans. Mr Biden proposes expanding the ACA and implementing a plan that will ensure “an estimated 97 per cent of Americans”. Mr Biden says he will achieve this by offering Americans the option to enrol in a public health insurance programme similar to Medicare, which offers coverage to the elderly. However, Mr Biden does not support the universal public health insurance plan backed by progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders.
Mr Biden has laid out an ambitious climate plan which includes overhauling the country’s energy industry to achieve 100 per cent emissions-free power by 2035. The plan includes a pledge to invest $2 trillion in clean-energy infrastructure if Mr Biden wins the White House in November, along with a promise to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and social housing units. In a nod to liberal voters, who have been somewhat unenthusiastic about Mr Biden’s candidacy, the Democrat said the expansive climate plan will be funded by a mix of government funding and increasing the corporate income tax rate from 21 to 28 per cent to ask “the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share”.
Mr Biden has shied away from mentioning a ban on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas – a politically sensitive topic in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan – instead focusing on incentives for car manufacturers to produce zero-emission electric vehicles. In a move that is unlikely to have pleased the US oil lobby, Mr Biden said in the second debate that he would “transition from the oil industry”. Mr Trump jumped on this as a blunder, arguing it will put off voters in Texas and Pennsylvania.
America and the world
A regular refrain of Mr Biden is his desire to restore America’s standing on the world stage. The Democrat has shown strong support for the country’s relationships with its allies, particularly the Nato alliance. He has also spoken of holding China accountable for unfair trade practices but suggested he would tackle this through an international effort rather than through trade wars.
Mr Biden says he will raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, which he defines as those with an income of more than $400,000 per year. He wants to impose a marginal tax rate increase – so the more a worker earns over that threshold, the more tax they must pay. Most of those affected are in the top 1-2 per cent of earners in the US. While lower-income Americans would not be taxed directly, critics of Mr Biden’s plan say workers will be forced to accept lower wages and lower investment returns because of the Democrat’s planned corporate tax rises, from 21 per cent to 29 per cent. Biden also wants capital gains and dividends to be taxed at income tax rates.
Mr Biden has criticised Mr Trump’s “America First” nationalism and the Democrat is much keener on building relationships with America’s allies. Mr Biden will look to repair some relationships, including with Nato and the World Health Organisation. He would also rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Mr Biden said he would enter into another international deal with Iran, which was agreed by President Obama and ripped up by Mr Trump. Despite pressure from the left of his party, Mr Biden is supporter of Israel. Mr Biden has also suggested he would push for new sanctions on the Russian regime and he has been critical of Brexit.
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