Updated Dec 12, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden on the issues, in under 500 words

Former Vice President Joe Biden.
Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Due to his moderate politics and name recognition, former Vice President Joe Biden may be well-suited to make inroads with blue-collar swing voters who broke for Trump in 2016.

Key facts:
  • Age: 76
  • Born: Scranton, Pa.
  • Undergraduate: University of Delaware
  • Date candidacy announced: April 25, 2019
  • Previous roles: President Obama's VP; Delaware senator from 1973-2009
Stance on key issues:
  • Immigration: His plan focuses on fast-tracking citizenship for seasonal agricultural workers and undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who pass background checks and are up-to-date on taxes.
    • He also wants to increase refugee intake, give asylum eligibility to domestic violence survivors and those fleeing political persecution, and double the number of immigration judges and court staff to tackle the issue.
  • College tuition: "Community college should be ... free," Biden said at the Electrical Workers Conference this year.
  • Health care: Favors expanding Obamacare with a public insurance option to compete alongside private insurance and available for everyone.
    • His plan would make the ACA's premium subsidies more generous and accessible.
    • The public option would take the place of Medicaid expansion in states that haven't expanded.
    • Would allow importations of prescription drugs.
  • Criminal justice: Released a plan to shift from incarceration to prevention. He supports "automatically expunging records for marijuana convictions," "mandatory treatment, not jail, for those with drug addictions," and "automatic restoration of voting rights" after a sentence is served.
  • Minimum wage: He called for a $15 federal minimum wage in April.
  • Climate change: Biden introduced an ambitious climate plan in June, calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Key criticisms:
  • Allegations of inappropriate touching: 7 woman came forward in 2019 to address what they described as inappropriate touching.
    • Biden responded to allegations, saying he understands "social norms are changing" and "boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset."
  • Justice Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation: Biden, who formerly chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted against Thomas, but was criticized for failing to defuse attacks against Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment.
  • Hyde Amendment: After criticism, Biden reversed his position on supporting a ban on federal funding for abortions.
  • The war on drugs and crime bills: In January, Biden expressed regret for supporting tough-on-crime bills during his time in Congress, which experts say has led to an era of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black Americans.
  • Integration: He attempted to pass anti-busing legislation for school integration in the 1970s, a stance that garnered renewed criticism.
  • Immigration: During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Biden said he supported building a fence along the southern border to stop "illegals" from bringing drugs to the U.S.
1 fun thing:
  • Biden was the first Roman Catholic vice president in the U.S.

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