Biden Seems To Offer Consolation Prizes To Sanders Camp On Medicare, Student Debt

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina.... Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS

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.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: