Biden's $6 trillion budget dropped key campaign promises on student debt cancellation and healthcare reform

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President Joe Biden. Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Joe Biden officially unveiled his first budget proposal on Friday, which requests $6 trillion for fiscal year 2022 to largely help fund his two-part infrastructure plan.

But several issues he promised during his campaign to reform are noticeably missing from this budget.

The budget outlines spending focused on climate change, education, and care-economy measures included in the president's infrastructure proposals. But it doesn't incorporate campaign promises to cancel student debt, and reform the healthcare and unemployment systems.

The budget document merely signals an administration's priorities for the coming year, given Congress drafts and approves a federal budget. Republicans and Democrats must strike a deal by September 30 to avert a government shutdown.

In this case, Biden's budget demonstrates a laser-focus on approving his $4 trillion infrastructure plans, which includes new federal commitments to physical infrastructure along with new health, education, and cash programs for families.

Here are three Biden campaign promises left out of his annual budget.

Student debt cancellation

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer looks on during a news conference at the US Capitol on July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Insider reported on April 7 that no progress has been made on two student-debt promises from Biden's campaign: to cancel $10,000 in student debt per person, and to cancel student debt for undergraduates at public colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Biden's budget doesn't account for those promises, either.

In a speech on November 16, Biden said that student loans are holding borrowers up, and forgiving $10,000 in student debt "should be done immediately." His campaign website also said the president would work with Democrats to "authorize up to $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower" as part of COVID-19 relief, but the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he signed in March didn't include that, and neither did his $4 trillion infrastructure proposal.

And while he said he would support legislation brought to him to cancel $10,000 in student debt, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told Insider on Thursday that it can easily be done through executive action.

"Student loan cancellation could occur today," Warren said. "The president just needs to sign a piece of paper canceling that debt. It doesn't take any act of Congress or any amendment to the budget."

Biden has asked the Education Department and Justice Department to review his ability to cancel debt using his executive powers, but no timeline has been given on when the review will be completed.

Setting up an optional government-run insurance plan

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Democratic presidential hopefuls, former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (R). Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The budget blueprint did not include a government-run health insurance program that Biden campaigned on called the public option. It's an optional Medicare-like health insurance plan that people could enroll into if they chose. The program is designed to compete with private insurers and lower prices for average Americans.

"Whether you're covered through your employer or on your own or not, you should have the choice to buy into a public option plan for Medicare - your choice," Biden said at a 2019 campaign event.

Neither the stimulus or infrastructure plans included a public option. Biden, along with Democrats, focused on pouring cash into the Obamacare exchanges and enlarging access.

The last Democratic primary was largely defined by political brawling over healthcare. Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders favored a universal healthcare program that would eliminate private insurance known as Medicare for All. Centrists like Biden favored creating a public option available through the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.

The budget only calls for Congress to approve a public option expanding Medicare to people aged 60 and over. But no policies to advance it are included within the document.

A pair of top Democrats - Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray and House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone - announced Wednesday they are drafting legislation to create a public option over the coming weeks.

Overhauling unemployment systems

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Hundreds of unemployed Kentucky residents wait in long lines outside the Kentucky Career Center for help with their unemployment claims on June 19, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky. John Sommers II/Getty Images

After Biden unveiled his American Families Plan, the White House released a document saying he was committed to working with Congress to automatically step up benefits during an economic crisis.

And while Insider reported that details on how to do so were vague in the infrastructure plan, Biden's budget does not contain anything addressing the unemployment system. This comes as a growing number of GOP-led states are cutting $300 weekly unemployment benefits early following a weak April jobs report, with Republican lawmakers arguing the benefits are keeping workers on the sidelines

Overhauling the nation's aging unemployment system has been championed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Michael Bennet. They introduced a plan to beef-up unemployment benefits so it provides at least two-thirds wage replacement for laid-off workers.

Read the original article on Business Insider