Apr 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

  • The policy announcements directly reference Sanders and his supporters, noting that they can "take pride in their work in laying the groundwork for these ideas."

1. Lower the Medicare age from 65 to 60.

  • Under Biden's plan, Americans would be able to choose whether to access Medicare benefits when they turn 60.
  • If not, they would be permitted to remain on their employer's insurance, Biden's "public option" or other plans they can access through an Affordable Care Act marketplace.

2. Forgive student debt for low-income and middle-class individuals who have attended public colleges and universities.

  • Specifically, Biden's proposal forgives all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities — as well as private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and private, underfunded Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • It would apply to debt-holders earning up to $125,000, with "appropriate phase-outs to avoid a cliff."
  • This is in addition to Biden's existing student debt proposals, which include an Elizabeth Warren-backed plan to cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person during the coronavirus crisis.

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