Since locking up the Democratic nomination for president last week, former Vice President Joe Biden has moved swiftly to unify the party around his candidacy. His campaign recently secured endorsements from two former rivals, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and announced a series of joint policy task forces to bridge the gap between the Biden and Sanders agendas. The presumptive nominee is right to seek common ground with the left in building a big-tent coalition to defeat Donald Trump, but these efforts should prioritize forward-thinking public investments instead of backwards promises to expand programs like Medicare and Social Security for affluent retirees. Doing so would be both good policy and good politics.
Federal spending on retirement programs was a key point of contention throughout the Democratic primary. Sanders and Warren proposed expensive expansions of Medicare and Social Security that would increase benefits for people of all income levels, while Biden’s proposed expansions were more-narrowly targeted to benefit vulnerable populations. Although Biden’s pragmatic vision was the one embraced by an overwhelming majority of Democratic primary voters, he moved towards the Sanders/Warren position last week when he proposed lowering the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.
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