Political News

What to know about Joe Biden's policy proposals ahead of CNN's town hall

Joe Biden's presidential campaign has made character its centerpiece, as the Democratic nominee casts the 2020 presidential race as a test of the "soul of the nation" against President Donald Trump.

Posted Updated

Eric Bradner
CNN — Joe Biden's presidential campaign has made character its centerpiece, as the Democratic nominee casts the 2020 presidential race as a test of the "soul of the nation" against President Donald Trump.

But he has also released a stream of policy proposals outlining what he would try to accomplish in office. And that platform is likely to be a focus Thursday night as Biden appears on CNN for a town hall in which he'll face questions from voters.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Biden won the Democratic primary advocating more moderate policies than many of his competitors. He has since embraced some proposals from former rivals, including climate plans first offered by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and bankruptcy ideas advanced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. His campaign and that of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont also jointly crafted a policy road map in the months after Biden defeated Sanders.

Here's a look at policies Biden has proposed on key issues:

The economy

The cornerstone of Biden's economic platform is massive stimulus spending aimed at boosting manufacturing -- with a focus on medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic -- as well as jump-starting the nation's battle against climate change.

The stimulus proposal emerged in July, as Biden laid out an economic plan amid staggering job losses caused by the pandemic. He is calling for spending $2 trillion over four years on clean energy projects. He has also called for $400 billion for US-made manufacturing efforts such as clean-energy vehicles, telecommunications equipment, steel and other building materials, and health care equipment, as well as another $300 billion in research and development on areas like 5G, artificial intelligence and electric vehicle technology.

Biden has also said he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.


Biden has said he would raise taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000 per year. He has also said he would undo Trump's tax cuts and raise the corporate rate to 28% -- which the former vice president has said he would use to pay for spending on areas like health care, education and caregiving.

Biden also said this month that he would seek to impose a 10% tax penalty on corporations that outsource jobs to manufacture goods that are then sold back into the United States, potentially lifting those companies' taxes by 2.8 percentage points. He would similarly credit those that manufacture more of their products in the United States.

Health care

Biden won the Democratic primary on a pledge to expand Obamacare but to reject a fully government-run, single-payer health insurance system. He has proposed expanding eligibility for plans offered through Obamacare's exchanges, enhancing the services those plans provide and lowering income-based caps on their prices.

He has also said he supports a "public option" -- a Medicare-style plan that people who do not have or do not want private insurance could instead buy into.


Biden has said he would expand government-funded educational offerings on both ends of the school timeline, with universal preschool and making public colleges and universities tuition-free for those whose families earn less than $125,000 per year.

He has proposed increasing funding for schools in low-income areas from the current $16 billion per year to about $48 billion per year and helping them hire more counselors.

He has also embraced parts of Warren's student loan debt plan, saying private student loans should be wiped away in bankruptcy.


Biden has said that all coronavirus-related testing and treatment should be free for Americans. He has called for the federal government to play a central role in deploying a coronavirus vaccine once one has been developed and tested, and he said the Defense Production Act should be invoked to shore up medical supplies.

The former vice president has also criticized Trump for failing to negotiate a deal with Congress to aid those who have lost their jobs because of the virus, as well as state and local governments that have seen their tax bases erode.

Race relations

Biden is seeking to address the nation's racial wealth and jobs gaps in part through a $30 billion fund for small businesses and a $15,000 refundable tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He is also proposing the construction of 1.5 million new homes and affordable housing units.

Biden has opposed progressives' "defund the police" push, and said he wants more funding for police departments for training and community-based policing. He has said he would restore the Justice Department's "pattern and practice" investigations of police departments that display an excessive use of force, bringing back and ramping up an Obama administration policy.

Climate change

Biden has set a goal of ending carbon emissions from power plants by 2035, and said he would propose spending $2 trillion over four years as a stimulus on green energy projects. Climate change is the area where he has moved leftward the most since winning the primary, embracing some of the goals of his party's progressives.

In a July speech, Biden called the threat posed by climate change a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy."

"We're not just going to tinker around the edges. We're going to make historic investments that will seize this moment in history," he said.

He has said he would not ban fracking for natural gas, a position that disappointed some progressives.

Foreign policy

Biden's sharpest criticisms of Trump have often been over foreign policy, an area in which he's said the President has been overly deferential to dictators like Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un and has eroded the United States' leadership role on the global stage.

Their differences largely boil down to Trump's "America first" vision against Biden seeing the United States playing a central role in world organizations and international talks over peace, climate change, denuclearization of Iran and more.

Biden, for example, has criticized Trump for deciding to leave the World Health Organization and for ending the nuclear deal with Iran. Biden has cast Trump's renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement as one that merely made incremental progress -- and was made better in part because of changes the Democratic-led House had sought.

Copyright 2023 by Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.