A Vision of Two Americas: Part II

Hopefully, a new day is coming and there will be a sunset on tyranny in the United States.

What if Joe Biden is elected President on November 3, 2020? What can we expect? When he formally announced his entry into the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden declared he stood for two things: workers who “built this country,” and values that can bridge its divisions. As the U.S. faces challenges from coronavirus to racial inequity, his pitch is to create new economic opportunities for workers, restore environmental protections, healthcare rights, and international alliances. In this quote from a speech recently given in Gettysburg, PA, Biden said:

I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I will work with Democrats and Republicans, and I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do. That’s the job of a president. It’s a duty of care for everyone.

Biden will not be a president for blue states only, in contrast to Trump’s helping only red states and excluding blue states from federal aid. Biden will be a president for all Americans.

Biden’s approach to tackling coronavirus, the most immediate and obvious challenge facing the country, is to provide free testing for all, and hire 100,000 people to set up a national contact-tracing program. He wants to establish at least ten testing centers in every state, call upon federal agencies to deploy resources, and give firmer national guidance through federal experts. He says all governors should mandate wearing masks. Many voters will see this as an overreach of government authority, but many Americans have shown they are too stupid and selfish to care about their fellow Americans. Some right-wing politicians have even said if elderly Americans die, it’s their time not because people did not take precautions. Americans have shown the government must take more decisive steps to ensure the safety of all Americans.

To address the immediate impact of the coronavirus crisis, Biden has vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to extend loans to small businesses and to increase direct-money payments to families. Among the proposals are an additional $200 in Social Security payments per month, rescinding Trump-era tax cuts, and $10,000 of student loan forgiveness for federal loans which won’t put a dent in my student loans. Still, it would be something. With Biden as president, student loan forgiveness programs are almost guaranteed to be expanded. Biden’s broader economic policies, dubbed his “Build Back Better” plan, try to please two constituencies who traditionally support Democrats: young people and blue-collar workers. He supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also wants to invest in green energy arguing boosting green manufacturing helps working-class union workers who perform most of those jobs. There is also a $400 billion pledge to use federal dollars to buy American goods alongside a broader commitment to enforcing “Buy American” laws for new transport projects. His 2020 plan calls for the federal government to invest $300 billion in US-made materials, services, research, and technology.

In the wake of the race protests gripping the country this year, he said he believes racism exists in the U.S. and must be dealt with through comprehensive economic and social programs to support minorities. Part of that is his “build back” program to create business support for minorities through a $30 billion investment fund. On criminal justice, he has moved far from his much-criticized “tough-on-crime” position of the 1990s. Biden now proposes policies to reduce incarceration, address race, gender, and income-based disparities in the justice system, and rehabilitate released prisoners. He would now create a $20 billion grant program to incentivize states to invest in incarceration reduction efforts, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, decriminalize marijuana and expunge prior cannabis convictions, and end the death penalty. He has rejected calls to defund police saying resources should instead be tied to maintaining standards. He argues that some police funding should be redirected to social services like mental health and calls for a $300 million investment into a community policing program.

Biden has called climate change an existential threat and says he will rally the rest of the world to act more quickly on curbing emissions by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement, from which Donald Trump withdrew, committed the U.S. to cut greenhouse gases up to 28 percent by 2025 based on 2005 levels. Though he does not embrace the Green New Deal, he is proposing a $1.7 trillion federal investment in green technologies research some of which overlap with the funding in his economic plan to be spent over the next 10 years. He wants the U.S. to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The investment in a greener America complements his economic plan to create jobs in manufacturing “green energy” products.

As president, Biden says he would focus on national issues first. That said, there is little to suggest Biden’s values on foreign policy have shifted away from multilateralism and engagement on the world stage in opposition to Trump’s isolationist and xenophobic policies. Biden has also promised to repair relationships with U.S. allies particularly within the NATO alliance which Trump has repeatedly threatened to undermine with funding cuts. Biden has said China should be held accountable for unfair environment and trade practices. Still, instead of unilateral tariffs (which are paid for by Americans not the Chinese), he has proposed an international coalition with other democracies which China “can’t afford to ignore.”

Biden says he will expand the Affordable Care Act and implement a plan to ensure an estimated 97 percent of Americans. Although he stops short of the universal health insurance proposal on the wish lists of his more left-wing party members, Biden promises to give all Americans the option to enroll in a public health insurance option similar to Medicare which provides medical benefits to the elderly and lowers the age of eligibility for Medicare itself from 65 to 60 years old. While many on the left advocated for universal healthcare, Biden won the Democratic nomination by promising to provide this public health insurance option. I also believe he will reform some of the most significant excesses of health insurance providers by allowing doctors to decide their patients’ care, Currently, health insurance providers control the health of millions of insured by arbitrarily refusing to pay for more costly procedures and medicines.

In his first 100 days in office, Biden has promised to reverse Trump policies that separate parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexican border, rescind limits on the number of asylum applications, and end the bans on travel from several majority-Muslim countries. He also promises to protect the “Dreamers” and ensure they are eligible for federal student aid. The United States is a nation built on immigrants. It is what makes the U.S. such a diverse and richly multicultural nation. The diversity of the United States is one of its greatest strengths. We need a president like Biden who will encourage diversity and equality in America.

Biden has also endorsed several significant pieces of education policy which have become popular within the party. He is a proponent of an expansion of student loan debt forgiveness programs. Under the Trump administration, those loan forgiveness programs have become non-existent as applications have routinely been rejected for minor issues if people are given a reason at all. Under the Biden plan, individuals making $25,000 or less per year will not owe any payments on their undergraduate federal student loans and will not accrue any interest. If this plan included graduate school student loans, this would have been tremendously helpful to me when I was a teacher making less than $25,000 a year and paying more than half my salary to student loan lenders. Everyone else will pay 5 percent of their discretionary income (income minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food) over $25,000 toward their loans. After 20 years, the remaining loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100 percent forgiven.

Additionally, Biden will fix the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by securing passage of the What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019. He will also make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. He wants to invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class. By strengthening colleges, he wants to create a reliable pathway to the middle class not an investment that provides limited returns and leaves graduates with mountains of debt they can’t afford. Furthermore, he will provide universal preschool access. These would be paid using money gained from withdrawing the Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Joe Biden believes every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and live without fear no matter who they are or who they love. During the Obama-Biden administration, the United States made unprecedented advancement of protections for LGBTQ+ Americans at the federal level—from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to Biden’s historic declaration in support of marriage equality on Meet the Press in 2012.

“Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what all marriages, at their root, are about.”

 —Joe Biden, “Meet the Press,” May 6, 2012

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections for the LGBTQ+ community. By blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBTQ+ people access to critical health care, proposing policies allowing federally-funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people and federally-funded adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—the Trump Administration has led a systematic effort to undo the progress the Obama-Biden administration made.  Hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people started long before Trump took office. Defeating them will not solve the problem, but it is an essential first step to continue our march toward equality. 

As President, Biden will stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure America finally lives up to the promise on which it was founded: equality for all. He will provide the moral leadership to champion equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people, fight to ensure that our laws and institutions protect and enforce their rights, and advance LGBTQ+ equality globally. Biden will protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, support LGBTQ+ youth, protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence, expand access to high-quality health care for LGBTQ+ individuals, ensure fair treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the criminal justice system, and advance global LGBTQ+ rights and development. If elected president, former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to immediately reverse the transgender military ban and reissue an Obama-era guideline allowing trans students to use the correct bathroom. This would effectively end litigation in the military ban cases and change the complexion of the bathroom cases.

I will repeat what I wrote yesterday: the choice is obvious. Former Vice President Joe Biden is well-suited to be president. An undecided voter can disagree with some of the policies he supports — that’s fine. Undecided voters should weigh their concerns about the unknowns of a Biden presidency against the inevitable dangers of a second Trump term. On the one hand, a tax, a minimum wage, an energy policy you might not like; on the other, the demise of U.S. democracy, prosperity, and global leadership. It shouldn’t be a difficult call. 

“I’ll be a President for All America” 

If you have not seen Joe Biden’s very moving speech from Gettysburg on October 6, 2020, please watch it.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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