A task force set up by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- who was Biden’s last remaining rival in the nomination battle -- on Wednesday released a wide-ranging set of recommendations for the party’s convention platform.
And while the proposals lay out a progressive road map for the former vice president, the document falls short of the ambitious plans pushed by Sanders and other candidates during the Democratic primaries.
The health care task force spotlights ways to expand coverage by strengthening the Affordable Care Act, which was Biden’s position during the primaries, rather than pushing for a single-payer "Medicare-for-all" health care system, a signature policy goal for Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that was notably absent from the document.
But the climate change task force -- co-chaired by progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and former Secretary of State John Kerry -- calls for a faster timetable to achieve net-zero carbon emissions than Biden has previously advocated for, instead of the Ocasio-Cortez-championed Green New Deal to overhaul environmental policy, which also was not included in the recommendations.
The freshman congresswoman and member of the so-called "Squad" tweeted: "I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully & substantively improved Biden's positions."
The panel was appointed by Biden and Sanders after the populist senator from Vermont dropped out of the race and endorsed the former vice president. Its mission -- following a primary season where the sharp policy differences between the more moderate Biden and the populist Sanders and Warren were on display -- was to find common ground in six key areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care and immigration.
“I commend the Task Forces for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country. And I am deeply grateful to Senator Sanders for working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come,” Biden said in a statement.
Sanders, in a separate statement, acknowledged that “the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone.” But the senator added that “the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."
On criminal justice reform -- which has been in the spotlight the past two months in the wake of national racial unrest following the death of George Floyd -- the proposals included a series of police reforms such as banning chokeholds, ending racial profiling and letting abuse victims pursue civil litigation.
The Democrats pledged to overhaul a police system they said has "overpoliced and underserved Black and Brown communities."
The platform also commits the Democratic Party to support a bill that would create a commission on reparations for slavery and discrimination.
As expected, the Republican National Committee took aim, accusing the task force of “copying from Bernie’s 2020 campaign proposals.”
“The fact Joe Biden has embraced Bernie Sanders’ radical agenda verbatim is proof that while Bernie may not be the one leading the Democrat Party, Biden is more than happy to be his champion in its lurch to the left,” Republican National Committee rapid response director Steve Guest charged.
The list of recommendations will go to the Democratic National Convention’s (DNC's) platform committee to consider.