Joe Biden is trying to win over progressives by courting the movement’s leaders and backing their calls for significant increases in pandemic relief, yet faces an uphill fight to convince skeptics on the left he won’t abandon working people in favor of Wall Street.

Since the economic crisis began with the coronavirus pandemic, he has shifted some of his stances leftward, calling for trillions of dollars more in stimulus spending and complaining about big banks getting a federal bailout while some small businesses were unable to secure life-saving loans. He’s agreed to create several policy task forces that join his staff with Bernie Sanders’s, and has adopted small pieces of Elizabeth Warren’s agenda, and says he’s willing to hear more..

To key progressive groups and leaders, the steps he’s taken are a good start. But they’re still worried that once in office, his economic recovery plan will mirror that of President Barack Obama, which they believed betrayed the values he campaigned on and favored banks and Wall Street at the expense of workers.

Biden is walking a tightrope. He desperately needs to raise money from Wall Street and other centers of wealth and power, and he’s promised donors that their standard of living won’t change if he is in the White House. But he also fears a repeat of 2016, when progressives felt ignored by nominee Hillary Clinton and stayed away on Election Day, which many say contributed to Donald Trump’s victory.

The economic crisis, including unemployment of around 20%, has made voters’ more willing to support some of the progressives’ big ideas. A majority of Americans surveyed in late March favored increased spending on health care, the elderly, environmental protection, education and infrastructure, among other areas. That gives Biden room to maneuver to the left.

But the Democratic establishment rallied around the former vice president as their preferred nominee in early March in part to blunt fears that a progressive nominee like Sanders or Warren would espouse policy ideas that wouldn’t win in November.

His balancing act might be working. This week, Biden won endorsements from both Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus and from Clinton.

Progressive groups, however, say they’re going to push for more, demanding that Biden bring more like-minded voices into his campaign and his possible transition team. And they say they will loudly complain when he makes moves they oppose. They’ve made good on that pledge, sparking an uproar when Bloomberg News reported that Biden was getting economic advice from former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

“Progressives are ready to be a resource to the Biden team -- and give them a good push if needed,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Institute.

A “Biden do not reappoint” list published by the American Prospect includes many of the same Obama administration alumni who progressives don’t want to see in a Biden administration, including Summers, former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and Jeff Zients, an acting director and economic adviser.

First « 1 2 3 » Next