Is the most radical reformer since FDR about to take over?

Is the most radical reformer since FDR about to take over?

Joe Biden has denied that he is a radical or a socialist but he wants to implement a progressive agenda – EPA

Joe Biden would enter the White House as the least scrutinised president in modern US history.

Long American election campaigns usually give the public the chance to learn every detail about the candidates’ agendas, and see them regularly bombarded with tricky questions.

But, even before the pandemic, Mr Biden conducted only very sparse interviews, or press conferences, and appeared only at small events.

In the early part of the campaign, after the coronavirus hit, he remained cloistered at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

It meant that, unlike Donald Trump, Mr Biden has rarely been required to defend or explain policies which could make him the most radical Democrat president since Franklin D Roosevelt.

Mr Biden has put forward a transformative agenda on climate change, energy, and healthcare.

Read more: Who is in Joe Biden’s presidential team?

It includes a $2 trillion plan to make the US carbon neutral by 2050 while “transitioning away from the oil industry.” 

He also wants to expand Obamacare with a “public option” allowing people to choose a government subsidised system over private health insurance.

Mr Biden wants to reverse Mr Tump’s tax cuts, raising corporation tax, and doubling the minimum wage to $15 and hour.

According to independent analysis Mr Biden has proposed $5.4 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years, which is significantly more than Hillary Clinton would have done.

Read more: Who is Joe Biden’s wife and First Lady candidate?

The national debt is expected to increase by $2.5 trillion in Mr Biden’s first term.

He has not embraced more radical Democrat ideas like “defunding the police” and Bernie Sanders’ plan for universal government-funded healthcare. 

However, Mr Sanders, the democratic socialist who Mr Biden beat for the Democrat nomination, has praised Mr Biden’s agenda.

Mr Sanders has said that “if implemented it would make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.”

How much of it Mr Biden can get done will be ultimately determined by the makeup of the Senate, which still hangs in the balance.

Read more: Joe Biden 2020: What a Democratic presidential win would mean for America

If Republicans hold sway they will have the power to block some of Mr Biden’s spending and Cabinet picks, dampening the prospect of Elizabeth Warren becoming treasury secretary.

Republicans have expressed concerns that Mr Biden will “lurch left” in response to pressure from Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker in the House of Representatives.

But Mr Biden is also someone who has a long personal history of compromising, and developing friendships with, Republicans during his decades as a senator.

Mr Biden himself has described how he worked with segregationist Southern senators in the 1970s to get things done.

“Reaching across the aisle” was a feature of his time as a senator and vice president.

During the campaign, when Mr Trump sought to portray him as soft on looters, Mr Biden told Americans: “You know me. You know my heart. Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

Read more: Trump vs Biden 2020 policies

The most immediate difference with Mr Biden in the Oval Office would be one of tone.

Mr Biden has pledged that he will not be tweeting at all hours, Indeed, he probably will not tweet much at all.

He has promised a return to the norms of government and international diplomacy, and he is unlikely to dominate the daily news cycle in the way Mr Trump did.

The administrative apparatus of government, often bypassed by Mr Trump, will return. America’s allies will not be blindsided in the same way they sometimes were by sudden announcements from Mr Trump.

Mr Biden is similar to Mr Trump in that he values personal relationships, he is fond of talking at length, and will gravitate toward leaders with whom he has personal chemistry.

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