Bernie Sanders Has Pushed Joe Biden Pretty Far to the Left

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In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Jacob Schlesinger made a point that I’ve also made a few times before: Bernie Sanders may not be on track to be our next president, but there’s no question that he’s accomplished a big part of what he set out to do four years ago. Joe Biden might seem like the most moderate of Democrats, but he’s been pushed pretty far to the left:

On taxes, health care, climate change and labor rights, Mr. Biden proposes a significantly bigger government role than Hillary Clinton did during her 2016 presidential bid and what the Obama-Biden ticket advocated during their two White House campaigns.

….Mr. Biden proposes tax and spending increases equivalent to 1.5% of U.S. gross domestic product, more than double the level Mrs. Clinton advocated four years ago, and higher than the budget blueprints from the end of President Obama’s term, according to a recent study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “What’s being called moderate now would have been the far left eight years ago,” says Matthew Chingos, an education expert at the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

….The Biden proposal is more ambitious than Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 health plan. His would cost the government as much as $1.3 trillion, net, over 10 years, compared with $250 billion for hers, according to analyses by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And the Biden plan goes beyond what Barack Obama envisioned in what ultimately became the Affordable Care Act. Among other differences, Mr. Biden would allow workers with employer coverage to buy into a government health-care plan—a concept neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton raised.

“That’s a huge deal,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. He estimated that would mean millions more “low-and-modest-income workers could get substantial health-care cost relief.”

Joe Biden is obviously no Bernie Sanders. His policy agenda may be to the left of Hillary Clinton’s but his proposed spending level is far lower than Bernie’s. Still, even if Bernie didn’t get his revolution, you might say that at least he’s gotten a bit of a rebellion. Given the political inertia of a country the size of the United States, that’s not bad.

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