Select Page

Joe Biden Is No Moderate

Super Tuesday, which vaulted former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), looks like a victory for the Democratic Party’s moderate forces. 

In the days leading up to the vote, the party’s less progressive voters and candidates consolidated around Biden. Both Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who had cast themselves as moderate alternatives to Sanders, ended their campaigns and endorsed Biden. Biden surged in national polling, and Democratic voters largely ignored former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent hundreds of millions of his personal dollars attempting to portray himself as the candidate of moderate consensus. (So much for buying the presidency.)  

In the end, however, Biden claimed that mantle. With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) flailing and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) barely registering, the Democratic primary is now a de facto two-man race, with Sanders the favorite of the socialist-friendly left and Biden representing the party’s moderate, centrist voters. Even President Donald Trump, who has loudly criticized Democrats for appearing to embrace Sanders-style socialism, seems to essentially accept this frame. 

But there is a problem with this view: Biden is a moderate compared to Sanders, but he is notably to the left of previous Democratic standard-bearers. To describe Biden as a moderate without this context is to ignore the specifics of his agenda and the leftward shift in Democratic Party politics it represents. 

Consider Biden’s health care plan. Although he has criticized Medicare for All, the fully government-run system favored by Sanders, Biden has proposed a significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act that his campaign estimates would cost $750 billion over a decade, nearly as much as the original bill signed by President Barack Obama. Although it would not nationalize the financing of health insurance, as the Sanders plan would, Biden’s proposal would nevertheless set up a new, government-run insurance plan, expand eligibility for insurance subsidies well into the middle class, and make benefits available to people who can access coverage through their employer. If enacted, it would represent a major increase in government spending on health care and a substantial increase in the government’s involvement in the health care system. 

Beyond health care, Biden has proposed a $1.7 trillion climate plan that is similar in scope to many candidates on his left and a $750 billion education plan that would be used, among other things, to increase teacher salaries and provide expanded access to pre-kindergarten. He favors an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures, a national $15 minimum wage, and a raft of subsidies, loans, and other government-granted nudges designed to promote rural economies. Has proposed $3.4 trillion worth of tax hikes—more than double what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed when she ran in 2016. 

To some extent, this just makes Joe Biden a Democrat in 2020, a successor to President Obama whose approach to policy could be summed up as, “Obama, but more.” 

That alone puts him to the left of previous presidential nominees. As a recent article in Vox put it, over the course of his campaign, Biden has “outlined a suite of policies that, taken on their own terms, would be the most ambitious governing agenda of any modern Democrat.” If he won, he would “be the most progressive Democratic nominee in history.”

Biden, in other words, would be the leftmost presidential nominee in memory even while representing the party’s center. And that tells us something important—not just about Biden, but about the Democratic party. 

Biden, arguably more than any other contemporary American politician, has long embodied the Democratic establishment consensus, from its tough-on-crime days in the 1990s to its wrong-about-Iraq days in the early 2000s to its technocratic economic policy gambles under Obama, when Biden played pivotal roles in the stimulus, the auto bailout, and high-stakes congressional budget deals. Biden is an avatar of the party’s self-conception, the closest thing capitol-D Democrats have to a mascot. 

Biden’s leftward drift is thus the party’s leftward shift. He isn’t a Sanders-style socialist, but he is, as I wrote last year, a big-government liberal, a candidate whose current incarnation was shaped and informed by progressive politics, if not wholly captured by them. That he looks moderate relative to Sanders is just another sign of how the party center has moved. If, as now seems plausible, he bests Sanders in the primary, the party’s current moderates will have won—but true moderation will have lost.  


This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Reason. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

-> Click Here to Read the Original Article <-

About The Author

Peter Suderman

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome

Bringing together a variety of news and information from some of today’s most important libertarian thought leaders. All feeds are checked and refreshed every hour and pages auto-refresh every 15 minutes. External images are deleted after 30 days.

Time since last refresh: 0 second

Publish Your Own Article

Follow The Libertarian Hub

 

Support Our Work

Support the Libertarian Hub by tipping with Bitcoin!

Send BTC:
19PU2K7448gKxAvisR5cF6X5RquYfWu5vZ

Weekly Newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!

Weekly Newsletter SignupTop 5 Stories of the Week

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!