- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2020

Former President Barack Obama revealed in a new interview that the policy goals of Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden are “not that different” than those of democratic socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

“If you look at Joe Biden’s goals and Bernie Sanders’s goals, they’re not that different, from a forty-thousand-foot level,” Mr. Obama told The New Yorker in an interview published Sunday. “They both want to make sure everybody has health care. They want to make sure everybody can get a job that pays a living wage. They want to make sure every child gets a good education.

“A lot of times, the issue has to do with ‘How do we go about that, and what are the coalitions we need?’ ” Mr. Obama added. “What I think the moment has done is to change some of those calculations, not because necessarily Joe’s changed but because circumstances have changed.”

While the Trump reelection campaign is trying to paint the former vice president as a “puppet” for the radical left-wing of the Democratic Party, Mr. Biden’s allies are trying to promote him and his running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris as moderates.

During his interview, Mr. Obama said it’s important for the party to be accepting of all liberals heading into the election.

“You have a big-tent party,” he said. “And that means that you tolerate, listen to and embrace folks who are different than you, and try to get them in the fold. And so you work with not just liberal Democrats, but you work with conservative Democrats — and you are willing to compromise on issues.”

Mr. Obama, who said he speaks to Mr. Biden frequently by phone, said the former vice president may be resentful toward the Republican Party for having “discredited” traditional deal-making and compromise in Congress while he served in the Obama administration.

“My legislative agenda, Joe’s legislative agenda, was at least as bold and aggressive as many of the young people’s agendas right now,” Mr. Obama complained. “If you asked Joe and I what regrets we might have, or what lessons we learned from my administration, it’s not that we were insufficiently bold in what we proposed. It’s that we continued to believe in the capacity of Republicans in Congress to play by the rules, and to be willing to negotiate and compromise.

“When I speak to young people, I say to them, Look, our climate proposals were very aggressive — we just couldn’t get them passed,” he continued. “And the reason we couldn’t get them passed was not because lobbyists and corporate donors were whispering in our ears! The reason we couldn’t pass them was because we didn’t have sixty votes in the Senate. And the same is true for getting a public option on health care, and getting immigration reform passed.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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