What Are Biden’s Economic Plans and Policies?

Democratic candidate proposes new approaches aimed at recovery.

Joe Biden Outdoors at Microphone in Blue Suit and Overcoat
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Scott  Eisen/Getty Images 

As the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden presented a plan for combating the COVID pandemic and the subsequent recession. He also proposed policies to overhaul the nation’s embattled health care system. 

Biden’s plan, which often diverges from policies enacted by President Donald Trump, also targets the global climate crisis. He’s outlined policies for education, immigration, and housing, as well as taxes, infrastructure, and trade, too. 

Key Takeaways

  • As the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden has prioritized responses to the pandemic, front-line workers’ safety, and recession recovery in his economic proposals.
  • Biden would make public health care available to eligible Americans who want it.
  • Biden’s plans would likely require tax increases for corporations and individuals, especially those with the highest incomes.
  • Other planned reforms include addressing climate change, education, immigration, and infrastructure.

Pandemic Response

Biden’s pandemic response would restore the economy in the shorter term by protecting workers from the pandemic. He'd use the Defense Production Act to produce more of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that safeguards essential workers.

Biden's plan calls for free COVID-19 testing and vaccines. A prospective Pandemic Testing Board would coordinate testing distribution, and a proposed Public Health Jobs Corp would mobilize 1000,000 people to do contact tracing. These are strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to control the coronavirus.

Many of the actions proposed by Biden need congressional approval before they can be put into action.

Recession Recovery, Jobs Creation

Biden plans to create 5 million new jobs through his "Buy American" plan. In this plan, the government would spend $400 billion to buy American products and services. An additional $300 billion would go toward research and development, including half for clean energy, aimed at creating jobs and securing U.S. industry leadership. Biden's campaign claims the plan will be the largest of its kind since World War II.

Biden's COVID plan would give essential workers a COVID pay boost and up to 14 days of guaranteed paid leave for anyone who gets sick with COVID-19 or stays home to care for family members ill with the virus. This would reduce disease transmission by allowing sick employees to stay home. At the same time, the government would reimburse employers who pay out COVID sick leave.

Biden would also more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. This is meant to spur economic growth by giving workers more to spend, increasing both demand and business revenue. 

Health Care Reforms

Biden would expand Obamacare subsidies to reach more middle-income families. Under his proposal, no one on a public plan would pay more than 8.5% of their income for health insurance. Through Biden's plan, you could choose a public health insurance option if you didn't like your employers insurance. Qualified residents of the states that didn’t expand Medicaid could also sign up for the universal health plan for free.

Climate Change Measures

Biden’s plan to combat climate change is called the “Clean Energy Revolution,” and would invest $2 trillion and create 10 million jobs. It would also:

  • Achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Declare climate change a national security priority
  • Spend $400 billion annually on clean energy research and innovation 
  • End subsidies for fossil fuels
  • Double offshore wind production by 2030
  • Ban offshore drilling in the Arctic and new oil and gas permits on public lands
  • Eliminate carbon emissions in the power sector by 2035
  • Add 500,000 public charging stations by 2030
  • Restore the EV tax credit

Biden's plan also calls for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Agreement but, at present, his 2050 zero-emission goal falls short of the agreement’s goal of reaching zero emissions by 2030. 

Education Proposals

Biden would increase federal funding for K-12 education. Specifically, he would triple Title I funding for low-income families to raise teachers' pay. He would double the number of health workers in schools.

Biden promises universal pre-kindergarten, and all community health centers would have early childhood development experts. 

A McKinsey study showed that, if low-income students had had the same educational achievement as their wealthier peers by 1998, in the next decade they may have added up to $670 billion to the economy.

To lower the cost of higher education, Biden would make community colleges and public universities free for families with income below $125,000. He would spend $8 billion on community college facilities and $50 billion on workforce training.

Immigration Changes

Biden’s proposals would reverse most of Trump's immigration policies. The U.S. would no longer separate families at the border. Biden would raise annual refugee admissions to 125,000 from its record low of 22,491 in 2018. Biden would also provide a road map to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pay taxes and pass a background check. 

Biden would address the root cause of immigration at the Mexican border. He would provide a $4 billion aid package to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, a region plagued with narco-trafficking and violence. 

Affordable Housing Plans

Biden plans to make available $640 billion over 10 years to provide affordable, safe housing. Of that, $100 billion would set up an Affordable Housing Fund to build new housing and improve existing housing.

Subsidized housing allows residents to focus on improving their job skills and education. It provides stability during bouts of unemployment, so children can remain in school.

Specifically, Biden would:

  • Spend $13 billion to build 400,000 units for the homeless through Congresswoman Maxine Waters' Ending Homelessness Act
  • Expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by $10 billion
  • Add $10 billion to Community Development Block Grants
  • Fully fund Section 8 rental assistance
  • Commit $5 billion per year for a new tax credit for low-income renters

Taxes

Biden would increase federal revenue by $3.3 trillion over 10 years by increasing taxes for corporations and high-income filers.

Specifically, he would impose a 12.4% Social Security payroll tax for those making more than $400,000 a year. He would repeal the Trump tax cuts for high-income filers, and increase the corporate tax rate to 28%. Biden would also tax long-term capital gains and dividend income above $1 million at the 39.6% income tax rate.

Biden would make the tax code more progressive, meaning high-income households pay a higher tax rate than do low-income taxpayers.

Biden would increase tax deductions or credits for senior workers, families with children, and first-time homebuyers.

Infrastructure Rebuilding

Biden's "Build Back Better" plan would invest $2 trillion to rebuild infrastructure, focusing on clean energy. He would increase funding for zero-emissions public transit in any town with 100,000 or more residents.

The plan would expand the nation’s rail system, invest in high-speed rail, and help Amtrak add more electric travel. It would improve battery technology for electric vehicles and add charging stations. Biden would provide universal broadband, including 5G wireless.

Trade

Biden would invest $300 billion to restore America's leadership in critical technologies. He is focused on clean energy, artificial intelligence, and electric vehicle battery technology. Instead of tariffs, Biden would work with U.S. allies to present a united front in trade disputes with China.

Vice-Presidential Pick

 In August 2020, Biden selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, California's former attorney general. During her time as attorney general, she won a $25 billion settlement for California homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis. She defended the state's climate change laws, pushed for marriage equality, and took a hard line against transnational gangs that trafficked humans, guns, and drugs.

 

Article Sources

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  13. Congressional Research Service. “Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy," Table 1. Refugee Admissions Ceilings and Regional Allocations, FY2008-FY2019, Page 2. Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.

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