Presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden offered up two new policy planks Thursday, a seeming conciliatory gesture towards supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who suspended his campaign a day previously.
In a Medium post, Biden tied the measures — lowering the age of Medicare eligibility and forgiving some student debt — to longer-term recovery efforts that will be necessary after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
“Senator Sanders and his supporters can take pride in their work in laying the groundwork for these ideas, and I’m proud to adopt them as part of my campaign at this critical moment in responding to the coronavirus crisis,” he wrote.
On the first measure, Biden said that he had directed his team to develop a plan to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60 from 65.
“This would make Medicare available to a set of Americans who work hard and retire before they turn 65, or who would prefer to leave their employer plans, the public option, or other plans they access through the Affordable Care Act before they retire,” he wrote. “It reflects the reality that, even after the current crisis ends, older Americans are likely to find it difficult to secure jobs.”
His second proposal, he said, would cancel tuition-related federal student debt for people making less than $125,000 who attended a public undergraduate college or university, a historically black college or university or a private, underfunded Minority-Serving Institution.
Biden said that he’d fund the loan relief by repealing the “excess business losses” tax cut included in the recently passed omnibus coronavirus relief package, the CARES Act, which he said only “benefits the richest Americans.”
He also name-dropped another former presidential candidate while listing other student debt proposals he favors, crediting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for the idea of cancelling a minimum of $10,000 in debt per person amid the pandemic.
Though Sanders is out of the race, he is exercising his leverage by leaving his name on the ballot in all the upcoming primary races to grow his delegate count and, thus, his influence on Democratic Party priorities.
“While Vice President Joe Biden will be the nominee, we must continue to assemble as many delegates as possible where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform,” he said Wednesday in a livestream to his supporters.
In his tweeted congratulations to Sanders for a race well-run, Biden made an overture to the senator’s disappointed supporters, urging them to join him in his fight against President Donald Trump.
And to Bernie’s supporters: I know that I need to earn your votes. And I know that might take time. But I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of this moment. I hope you’ll join us. You’re more than welcome: You’re needed.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 8, 2020