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Joe Biden on the issues: a PolitiFact guide

Former vice president Joe Biden (AP) Former vice president Joe Biden (AP)

Former vice president Joe Biden (AP)

Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan October 6, 2020
Biden’s biography

Joe Biden, 77, is the 2020 Democratic nominee for president. Biden was born to a working-class family in Scranton, Pa. As a young attorney, he was elected to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29. Weeks after he won, his wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident. Their two young sons were injured but survived. Biden was sworn into office at the hospital where his family was treated. He went on to serve in the Senate for more than 35 years. Biden has said his top achievement in the Senate was drafting the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. 

In 2008, Biden was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate, and he served eight years as vice president. Biden oversaw a $787 billion economic stimulus package that was the Obama administration’s primary response to the 2008 financial crisis. He also played an important role in negotiating with Republicans in Congress on tax and budget issues. 

Biden married Jill Jacobs in 1977. His children are Hunter and Ashley; his son Beau died of cancer in 2015 and his daughter Naomi died in a car wreck in 1972. He lives near Wilmington, Del.

His running mate

Kamala Harris, 55, is Biden’s running mate. (Her first name is pronounced ‘Comma-luh.’) She was born in Oakland, Calif., to two immigrants, a medical scientist from India and an economist from Jamaica. Harris worked as a prosecutor in California and was elected the state’s attorney general in 2010. She successfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Harris married attorney Douglas Emhoff in 2014. She has two stepchildren, Cole and Ella. She lives in Los Angeles. 

Biden’s position on the issues

PolitiFact selected the issues for this list from Pew Research Center polling on what voters consider to be the top issues of the 2020 election. Sources for the candidate’s position include campaign websites, interviews and PolitiFact research. 

Economy. Biden’s economic plan emphasizes job creation in manufacturing, infrastructure and health care. He would increase aid to states and the unemployed. He would reverse President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. 

Health care. Biden supports the Affordable Care Act and seeks to improve and strengthen it. He supports allowing Americans to buy into a public option for government-backed health insurance. Those eligible for Medicaid would be able to enroll in the public option at reduced cost. He supports a variety of policies that would limit increases to prescription drug prices.

Supreme Court appointments. Biden has said the next Supreme Court justice should not be confirmed until after the 2020 election. He has declined to say recently if he would support expanding the court to more than nine justices, though he has opposed it in the past. 

The coronavirus pandemic. Biden urges nationwide mask-wearing and following guidelines for physical distancing. He wants to dramatically increase access to rapid testing. He supports additional assistance for hospitals and public health workers. He would concentrate on plans to distribute a successful vaccine. 

Violent crime. Biden’s positions on violent crime focus on reducing gun violence. He would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and regulate the possession of existing assault weapons. He supports more funding for community policing and does not support efforts to defund the police.

Foreign policy. Biden would strongly support NATO and other international alliances, reversing Trump’s policies of unilateral engagement. Biden has said he would take a harder stance toward Russia for interference in American elections. 

Gun policy. Biden would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and regulate possession of existing assault weapons. He would require background checks for all gun purchases. He would tighten existing rules and regulations on gun purchases and encourage more prosecution of gun crimes. 

Racial justice. Biden supports jobs programs and housing policies to reduce racial disparities in income and wealth. He would use the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. 

Immigration. Biden says Trump’s policy to build a wall is misguided because many immigrants here illegally either overstay visas or present themselves to border officials to seek asylum, and many illicit drugs come in through ports of entry. He would reverse policies that separate families. He supports a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States illegally. 

Economic inequality. Biden would reverse Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. He supports economic programs to raise wages, including a $15 an hour national minimum wage. He supports additional benefits for health care and child care. 

Climate change. Biden says climate change is a critical problem and emphasizes job creation to build a modern, sustainable, clean energy infrastructure. He supports the United States rejoining the Paris climate agreement that Trump rejected. Biden says the U.S. should achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Abortion. Biden says that access to abortion is a constitutional right. If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Biden would support legislation to make Roe vs. Wade national policy. 

RELATED STORY: Trump’s positions on the issues

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Sources for the candidate’s position include campaign websites, interviews and PolitiFact research.

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Joe Biden on the issues: a PolitiFact guide