"We need to confront racial and income-based disparities in our justice system and eliminate overly harsh sentencing for non-violent crimes. As president, Biden will... Eliminate the death penalty. Over 160 individuals who’ve been sentenced to death in this country since 1973 have later been exonerated. Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time, Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example. These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole."
Source: Joe Biden, "Justice," joebiden.com (accessed Aug. 26, 2019)
[Editor's Note: Biden previously expressed a PRO opinion on this question. Read Biden's former position on whether the death penalty should be legal.]
"Stop corporations from profiteering off of incarceration. Biden will end the federal government’s use of private prisons, building off an Obama-Biden Administration’s policy rescinded by the Trump Administration. And, he will make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants. Biden will also make eliminating private prisons and all other methods of profiteering off of incarceration – including diversion programs, commercial bail, and electronic monitoring – a requirement for his new state and local prevention grant program. Finally, Biden will support the passage of legislation to crack down on the practice of private companies charging incarcerated individuals and their families outrageously high fees to make calls."
Source: Joe Biden, "Justice," joebiden.com (accessed Nov. 12, 2019)
Pro Should Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Be Made Law?
"In the months ahead, Biden will also detail his plan to tackle the public health epidemic of gun violence in America, starting with universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Biden’s plan to reduce gun violence will address not only mass shootings but also daily acts of gun violence that don’t make national headlines."
Source: Joe Biden, "Justice," joebiden.com (accessed Aug. 27, 2019)
Con Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal Federally?
"I think states should be able to make a judgment to legalize [recreational] marijuana, I think that's okay. But let me tell you, the truth of the matter is there's not nearly been enough evidence acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It's a debate. Before I legalize it nationally, I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it."
Source: Rebecca Falconer, "Biden: There's No Proof Marijuana Isn't a Gateway Drug," axios.com, Nov. 17, 2019
[Editor's Note: Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson, clarified Biden's statement to CNN: "As he said [Tuesday, May 14, 2019], Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana. He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don't have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer. He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana's positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a schedule 2 drug."
Source: Arlette Saenz, "Joe Biden Supports Decriminalizing Marijuana, Stops Short of Calling for Legalization," cnn.com, May 16, 2019]
"The Biden Plan will make health care a right by getting rid of capital gains tax loopholes for the super wealthy. Today, the very wealthy pay a tax rate of just 20% on long-term capital gains. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the capital gains and dividends exclusion is the second largest tax expenditure in the entire tax code: $127 billion in fiscal year 2019 alone. As President, Biden will roll back the Trump rate cut for the very wealthy and restore the 39.6% top rate he helped restore when he negotiated an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in 2012. Biden’s capital gains reform will close the loopholes that allow the super wealthy to avoid taxes on capital gains altogether. The Biden plan will assure those making over $1 million will pay the top rate on capital gains, doubling the capital gains tax rate on the super wealthy."
Source: Joe Biden, "Health Care," joebiden.com (Aug. 29, 2019)
"The American middle class built this country. Yet today, CEOs and Wall Street are putting profits over workers, plain and simple. It’s wrong. There used to be a basic bargain in this country that when you work hard, you were able to share in the prosperity your work helped create. It’s time to restore the dignity of work and give workers back the power to earn what they’re worth.
It’s well past time that we increase the federal minimum wage to $15."
Source: Joe Biden, "Joe's Vision for America: Restoring the Basic Bargain for American Workers," joebiden.com (accessed July 24, 2019)
Con Should the US Implement a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
"I noted that some in Silicon Valley whose fortunes are built on automation have proposed a universal basic income on the theory that there will no longer be enough work to go around. But that misses the point. Americans have always defined themselves by what they do and how they provide for their families. What the idea of a universal basic income misses is that a job is about more than a paycheck. It is about dignity and one's place in their community. What Americans want is a good job and a steady paycheck, not a government check or a consolation prize for missing out on the American dream.
The American people are willing to work and when they work they're entitled to be justly rewarded. That's the American promise."
Source: Joe Biden, "A Plan to Put Work - And Workers - First," bidenschool.udel.edu (accessed Nov. 25, 2019)
"Erin Burnett: Vice President Biden, you have warned against demonizing rich people. Do you believe that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren's wealth tax plans do that?
BIDEN: No, look, demonizing wealth -- what I talked about is how you get things done. And the way to get things done is take a look at the tax code right now. The idea -- we have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax -- I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent."
Source: The Fix Team, "The October Democratic Debate Transcript," washingtonpost.com, Oct. 15, 2019
Pro Should the Federal Funding to Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) Be Increased?
"As president, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs, TCUs [Tribal Colleges and Universities], and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Students at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs will benefit from Biden’s proposals to double Pell grants, slash the income-based repayment of loans to 5% of income, and provide free tuition for students at all community colleges, including those that are MSIs. In addition, Biden will invest over $70 billion in these colleges and universities to:
Make HBCUs, TCUs, and under-resourced MSIs more affordable for their students...
Invest in the diverse talent at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs to solve the country’s most pressing problems...
Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs...
Provide support to continuously improve the value of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs by investing $10 billion in programs that increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment rates...
Expand career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers...
Triple and make permanent the capacity-building and student support for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act... -Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs."
Source: Joe Biden, "The Biden Plan for Education beyond High School," joebiden.com (accessed Nov. 25, 2019)
Not Clearly Pro or Con Should Student Loan Debt Be Forgiven?
"Student debt is something that you should not have to pay back unless, when you graduate, you're making more than 25 to 30 thousand dollars. When that debt gets paid back it should not be at a 10% rate, it should be at 5%. And if you go into public service, the debt could be forgiven."
Source: C-Span, "Joe Biden in Keene, New Hampshire," c-span.org, Aug. 24, 2019
[Editor's Note: As a senator, Joe Biden supported the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), which exempted student loan debts from discharge in bankruptcy.
Alan Collinge, "Joe Biden Has No Plan for Student Loans," goodmenproject.com, Aug. 28, 2019
Julia Kagan, "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA)," investopedia.com, Apr. 7, 2019]
"We can pay for this with the [Trump administration] tax cut that we're going to reverse as well as eliminating some of these loopholes that make no sense. Let me give you one example. I don't want to be generic about it. I want to give you an example. For example, you could send everyone in this state [New Hampshire] to a community college for free. And the entire United States for free, if they're qualified. Cutting in half the cost of... a four-year degree, because in every state you're able to transfer these community college credits to the state university, cutting in half the cost of education, a four-year education if that's what you desire. But, here's the deal, it costs six billion dollars a year. There goes that big-spending Democrat Biden, man, look at him. I can eliminate one of the 1.6 trillion dollars in loopholes. It's called stepped-up basis... If you just eliminate that one out of one trillion six hundred plus billion dollars, every single solitary kid could go to qualify to go to community college for free, cutting in half the cost of their four-year education, increasing productivity by 2/10 of one percent by most studies, as well as having eleven billion dollars to put toward the deficit."
Source: C-SPAN, "Joe Biden in Hampton, New Hampshire," c-span.org, May 13, 2019
Should 2020 Presidential Election Candidates Accept Support from Super PACs?
[Editor's Note: Although Biden has made statements opposing Super PACs, an Oct. 24, 2019 statement from his campaign spokesperson, Kate Bedingfield, indicated either a reversal or softening of his position: "As president, Joe Biden will push to remove private money from our federal elections. He will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs. Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to re-elect this corrupt president.]
Source: John Verhovek and Molly Nagle, "Amid Trump Attacks, Lagging Fundraising, Biden Campaign Drops Discouragement of an outside Super PAC," abcnews.go.com, Oct. 24, 2019
[Editor's Note: Biden previously expressed a CON opinion on this question. Read Biden's former position on whether candidates should accept support from Super PACs.]
Con Should Voters Be Required to Show Photo Identification in Order to Vote?
"On the civil rights front, we see renewed attacks on voting rights across the nation. This year alone , there were 83 initiatives in 29 states to limit access to the ballot box in the name of preventing corruption where no corruption was found. In the name of preventing widespread fraud where none was occuring. States like Wisconsin, which passed a voter ID law in the name of combatting voter impersonation. That was the rationale. According to the federal court, the state, and I quote, 'could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occuring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past.' Or, in my native state of Pennsylvania, where a state court judge ruled that the state 'wholly failed to show any evidence of in-person voter fraud.' But the fiction of widespread voter fraud continues to persist. Because, without it, no American worth their salt could ever defend these new laws in limiting the franchise."
Source: CBS News, "Joe Biden: Voter ID Laws Aim to 'Repress Minority Turnout,'" cbsnews.com, July 24, 2014
Con Should the US Expand Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Land?
"On day one, Biden will use the full authority of the executive branch to make progress and significantly reduce emissions. Biden recognizes we must go further, faster and more aggressively than ever before, by... [p]rotecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters, establishing national parks and monuments that reflect America’s natural heritage, banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, modifying royalties to account for climate costs, and establishing targeted programs to enhance reforestation and develop renewables on federal lands and waters with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030."
Source: Joe Biden, "Climate," joebiden.com (accessed Oct. 10, 2019)
Pro Should the US Adopt a Climate Change Plan such as the Green New Deal?
"Vice President Biden knows there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world. Today, he is outlining a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency.
Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected."
Source: Joe Biden, "Climate: Joe's Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice," joebiden.com (accessed Aug. 29, 2019)
Pro Should the US Expand Its Use of Nuclear Power?
"Biden will establish ARPA-C, a new, cross-agency Advanced Research Projects Agency focused on climate. This initiative will target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target... [including] small modular nuclear reactors at half the construction cost of today’s reactors...
Identify the future of nuclear energy. To address the climate emergency threatening our communities, economy, and national security, we must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies. That’s why Biden will support a research agenda through ARPA-C to look at issues, ranging from cost to safety to waste disposal systems, that remain an ongoing challenge with nuclear power today."
Source: Joe Biden, "Climate," joebiden.com (accessed Nov. 12, 2019)
Con Should the Tariffs Imposed on China by President Trump Be Maintained?
"America’s farmers have been crushed by his [President Trump's] tariff war with China. He thinks he’s being tough. Well, it’s easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain. How many farmers across this state and across this nation have had to face the prospect of losing their business, of losing their farm because of Trump’s tariffs? ...And how about manufacturing? Trump’s tariffs and trade wars are hitting a lot of American manufacturing—especially the American automobile industry—choking it to within an inch of its life."
Source:Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, "Biden Takes on 'Trump's Tariffs,'" wsj.com, June 12, 2019
Pro Should the US Re-Enter a Nuclear Deal with Iran?
"The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war. If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would re-enter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities."
Source: Joe Biden, "American Leadership," joebiden.com (accessed Sep. 30, 2019)
Con Should the US Have Withdrawn Troops from Northern Syria in Oct. 2019?
"Donald Trump sold out the Syrian Democratic Forces — the courageous Kurds and Arabs who fought with us to smash ISIS’s caliphate — and he betrayed a key local ally in the fight against terrorism. But that’s not all — he betrayed our brave troops, who sacrificed alongside them. He betrayed our word as a nation — raising doubts among our allies around the world about America’s security commitments. And he betrayed our security by green lighting a Turkish incursion that will create chaos and destruction, setting conditions for ISIS to regrow."
Source: Joe Biden, "Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on the Consequences of Donald Trump’s Decision to Remove Troops from Syria," medium.com, Oct. 10, 2019
"As president, Biden will be a champion for improving access to health care and the health of all by:
Expanding access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion...
Reverse the Trump Administration and states’ all-out assault on women’s right to choose. As president, Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion, such as so-called TRAP laws [Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers], parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements."
Source: Joe Biden, "Healthcare," joebiden.com (accessed Aug. 7, 2019)
Con Should the US Switch to a Medicare-for-All Healthcare System?
“I believe we have to protect and build on Obamacare. That's why I proposed adding a public option to Obamacare as the best way to lower costs and cover everyone. I understand the appeal of Medicare for All. But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare, and I’m not for that...
I know how hard it is to get that [healthcare legislation] passed. I watched it. Starting over makes no sense to me at all. I knew the Republicans would do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare, they still are. But I'm surprised that so many Democrats are running on getting rid of it."
Source: Joe Biden, "Healthcare," joebiden.com (accessed Dec. 10, 2019)
[Editor's Note: On Oct. 30, 2019, Biden referred to his healthcare plan as "Medicare for all who want it." However, on Nov. 1, 2019 in an interview with PBS NewsHour, when asked about Medicare for All, Biden stated "Look, we don't have to go that route. All we have to do is go back, restore Obamacare, make it — provide a public option, further subsidize the ability to get into a gold plan. My plan will cost about $750 billion over 10 years. We can pay for that."
Sources: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "Joe Biden Describes His Health Care Plan Using Pete Buttigieg's Term 'Medicare for All Who Want It,'" desmoinesregister.com, Oct. 30, 2019
Judy Woodruff, "Watch Our Interview with Joe Biden," pbs.org, Nov. 1, 2019 ]
Con Should the US End the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Policy?
"Imagine a young girl, age 4 or 5, traveling with her parents into the United States as they make the hard decision to pursue a better life here. Imagine that child growing up as your student, your co-worker, your friend. Because of the president’s decision today [to rescind DACA], she now must live in fear that she will soon be thrown out and sent back to a country she has never known.
This story speaks to the experience of roughly 800,000 people known as DREAMers here in America today. These children didn’t choose to come here, but now many of them are grown with families of their own. They’re paying taxes. They’ve joined the workforce. They went to college. Some of them joined the military. Now, they’ll be sent to countries they don’t even remember.
These people are all Americans. So let’s be clear: throwing them out is cruel. It is inhumane. And it is not America. Congress and the American people now have an obligation to step up and show our neighbors that they’re welcome here, in the only place they’ve ever called home."
Source: Jeff Stein, "Joe Biden: Rescinding DACA Is 'Cruel' and 'Inhumane,'" vox.com, Sep. 5, 2017
Con Should the US Decriminalize Illegal Border Crossings?
"The fact of the matter is... if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It's a crime... I have guts enough to say his [Julian Castro's decriminalization] plan doesn't make sense. Here's the deal. The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they're seeking asylum. People should have to get in line. That's the problem."
Source: NBC News, "Democratic Debate Transcript: July 31, 2019," nbcnews.com, July 31, 2019
[Editor's Note: Biden raised his hand during the June 27, 2019 Democratic debate when Jose Diaz-Balart asked "If you'd be so kind, raise your hand if you think it should be a civil offense rather than a crime to cross the border without documentation?" Diaz-Balart followed-up to clarify Biden's position, however Biden did not give a direct response to the question of decriminalization verbally.]
Pro Should LGBTQ+ People Have Protection from Being Fired for Being LGBTQ+?
"Vice President Biden’s full support for LGBTQ employment protections, and more broadly, LGBTQ equality, has been clear over the years through his vocal support of the Equality Act, early support for marriage equality, hate crimes legislation, the right for our transgender brothers and sisters to serve openly in the military, and more. As a supporter of the Equality Act, Vice President Biden believes that LGBTQ people are entitled to equal protection in the workplace under Title VII. And as an out gay man, myself, I am deeply appreciative of Biden's advocacy and impact over the years."
Source: Kate Sosin and Nico Lang, "SCOTUS Will Rule on LGBTQ Job Discrimination. Here's What the 2020 Candidates Stand," thedailybeast.com, May 3, 2019
[Editor's Note: Jamal Brown, national press secretary for Biden for President, issued this statement via email to The Daily Beast on behalf of Biden.]
Pro Should Transgender People Be Allowed to Serve in the US Military?
Shannon Scott: “I served over ten years in the United States military and two combat tours in Iraq, and after that service, I was forced to make one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever been forced to make, and that was to choose between serving my country and my true identity as a transgender woman.”
Joe Biden: “If I were President, you would not have to choose. Not a joke. You would not have to choose. The fact of the matter is that we're in a position where transgender men and women are in a position where they should be able to do anything anybody else in the world can do. There should be no difference.”
Source: Veronica Rocha and Brandon Tensley, "CNN's LGBTQ Town Hall: Biden: Transgender People Should Be Allowed to Serve in the Military," cnn.com, Oct. 10, 2019