Following in line with prominent left-wing lawmakers, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told virtual CNN town hall audiences Thursday there might be no time like the present to expand the scope of federal economic and environmental policy.
According to Biden, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout have provided the nation with an “opportunity” to move forward with progressive policy long believed to be unachievable — particularly on the issue of climate change.
“We have to look at it totally differently than we have before,” Biden told hosts Anderson Cooper and medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “I think the way we get through this is we have to deal with stimulating the economy, but then we have to deal with recovery. Recovery. And the way you deal with recovery is you think much bigger than we have before.
“It’s like the New Deal. Think of every great act, every great change that’s taken place. It’s come out of a crisis. … What we did, we expanded opportunity. And I think we have an opportunity to significantly change the mindset of the American people — things they weren’t ready to do even two, three years ago. …
“We have an opportunity now to take in a recovery act, a real recovery, we can fundamentally change the science relating to global warming and we can create, seriously create, 10 million good-paying jobs. We can do it. It’s within our power to do it.”
With the U.S. economy bleeding more than 22 million jobs amid government orders shutting down of so-called nonessential businesses, according to Axios, Biden suggested Thursday that government jobs programs in the energy sector should be an essential part of the coming economic recovery.
Seemingly at the forefront of Biden’s plan for such an expansion was a nationwide infrastructure program aimed at introducing roughly 550,000 electric car charging stations along federal interstates.
Expansions into solar and wind technology — a key component of the Obama administration‘s small-scale green energy plan — were also floated during the town hall.
According to Biden, such a federal energy sector investment would provide so many as 10 million high-paying jobs.
Further details were not provided regarding the scope or cost of such a recovery effort.
The former vice president is not, however, the first to float the use of Depression-era President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal model as a blueprint for governmental recovery efforts in the coming year.
According to The Hill, Massachusetts has recently begun piloting a “first-of-its-kind” public health program that reportedly will see governmental coronavirus data collection ramped up with efforts to employ everyday citizens for the purpose of conducting “contact tracing” surveys.
Contract tracing is a medical practice that involves developing consolidated watch lists of potentially infected people by interviewing confirmed coronavirus patients regarding those they have had direct contact with while still contagious.
The program, announced by anti-Trump Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on April 10, reportedly has received broad support from medical professionals and left-wing policy experts — some of whom believe similar data collection efforts should be nationalized in the form of programs like Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration.
Democrats such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California and far-left freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have also expressed support for a more progressive approach to emergency coronavirus response policy.
Pelosi, for her part, has on several occasions backed the position that the first three phases of congressional coronavirus relief legislation did not go far enough in terms of social safety net spending.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez suggested earlier this month that all coronavirus relief legislation should be crafted with slavery-related reparations in mind.
Biden seemed to offer similar sentiments Thursday in his CNN town hall, suggesting the ongoing pandemic has seen the “Band-aid ripped off” regarding health care, income and racial inequality across the U.S.