Joe Biden’s 2008 Presidential Platform Looked Much Different From His 2020 Rendition

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Joe Biden’s third presidential run was his first successful one — with a much different platform from what he had last time.

The former two-term vice president ran for president twice before:  once in 1988 and again in 2008. He dropped out in 1988 after a plagiarism scandal; and in 2008, he failed to gain much traction with then-Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama, former first lady and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards in the race. Biden dropped out in January 2008.

Thanks to Internet archives, Biden’s 2008 platform is still on the web. It’s not the same as the Biden-Harris 2020 platform. Here’s why.

Biden wasn’t proposing the Affordable Care Act expansion or a public option on health care. Rather, Biden’s plan called for expanding health coverage for children as well as protecting adults and business owners from catastrophic expenses, although he didn’t directly call for universal catastrophic coverage. Additionally, Biden’s platform said that he supported states coming up with their own healthcare plans with the goal that everyone would have access to affordable health care. Biden’s plan did not call for an individual health insurance mandate.

This time around, Biden wants to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for those who come from families with incomes below $125,000 a year. However, Biden wasn’t a proponent of free college for most families the last time he ran. Rather, his platform said that he wanted to increase tax deductions for tuition payments and expand Pell grants to “cover the average tuition at public colleges for low income families.” In 2007, the median household income in the United States was $50,233, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

On immigration, Biden wanted a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the country in 2008, and he still does. However, his campaign web site said there were more than 12 million illegals in the United States in 2008. This time around, it says there are nearly 11 million; a Yale study conducted in 2018 calculated that there were 22.1 million illegal immigrants in the country at the time. Biden’s immigration plan is significantly longer and more detailed now than it was in 2008.

Back then, Biden’s platform said that he opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. However, at a December 2019 campaign event, Biden said he was working on a plan to provide illegal immigrants with drivers license’s, when asked about his position.

When it comes to foreign policy, one of Biden’s major ideas of the 2008 campaign was missing from his 2020 platform, as well:  reconfiguring Iraq. Biden did not call for a partition of Iraq, as some have claimed, but he wanted three states within the country divided along ethno-religious lines. He wanted three “largely autonomous regions” — Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish — that were part of a common country with a “strong but limited central government.” He wanted Iraq’s central government to be in charge of “border defense, foreign policy, oil production, and revenues.”

On spending, Biden’s stance has also changed. His campaign site touted fiscal responsibility in 2008. It said he not only wanted to kick deficit spending, but touted the country’s budget surplus in the late 1990s under President Bill Clinton. He wanted the government to adopt a “Pay-As-You-Go” budget where members of Congress would have to cut spending or raise taxes in an area if they wanted to increase spending elsewhere. Now, the terms “fiscal responsibility” and “deficit spending” don’t appear on his web site.

Biden also had some different views on social issues at the time, although they were not mentioned on his campaign web site. He supported originalist marriage, stating that marriage was between a man and a woman during one of the vice presidential debates. (Obama picked Biden as his running mate in August 2008, seven months after Biden dropped out of the presidential race.) Although Biden supported Roe v Wade at the time, he was also for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding from being spent on abortions. The amendment prevents an estimated 50,000 abortions each year. Biden came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, and announced he supported scrapping the Hyde Amendment in June 2019, during his most recent presidential campaign. Additionally, Biden started publicly supporting marijuana decriminalization in March 2019, which he opposed previously.

Biden is scheduled to take office as president at noon on Wednesday, January 20.