When it comes to programs and policies to benefit most Americans, Biden has the Obama/Trump touch. Even the mouthpiece of the high and mighty agrees — “He [Biden] is not so much a change agent as a reversion agent. [“The Third Term of the Obama Presidency”, NYT 11/8/2020] In the face of an economic nightmare with over one-half of the millions of workers who lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic still unemployed and many more behind on their bills or their rent, Joe’s recipe for help: plain vanilla talking points —“…control the virus…build prosperity… secure your family’s health care…achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism … save the climate… restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot.” No call to address skyrocketing income inequality, or allocate federal dollars to bail out cities and states struggling under a mountain of pandemic-induced debt, or rush aid to struggling small businesses, or cancel student debt. In their place, rehashing his campaign theme — “a patriotic crusade to reclaim the American government from a president he considered a poisonous figure.” [“Concern for the Soul of the Country Fueled a Successful Bid” NYT, 11/9/2020]. Ordinary Americans will not be on the receiving end of Biden’s largesse, but the police sure will. He has promised an emergency appropriation of $300 million to “control” the streets. That’s straight from the Obama/Trump playbook.
Is it any wonder that America’s soul is not uppermost in the minds of Americans whose very lives are at stake? At least twelve million workers have lost their employer healthcare. They join the rolls of the thirty million who never had it. At least fifty million more are woefully underinsured. How will they afford to pay their medical bills if COVID strikes? The healthcare law that Obama and Biden pushed through is useless. Although clueless Joe thinks “It’s a law that saved lives and spared countless families from financial ruin.” Since Obamacare was passed in 2011, medical debt remains the leading cause of bankruptcy.
A private, profiteering healthcare system that leaves millions to find the nearest witch doctor is bad enough, having to scrounge to buy food and pay the rent in the richest country in the world is obscene. That’s the fate of fifty-five million Americans, eight million having become impoverished in the last six months. Is the president-elect riding to the rescue promising a better deal like a government jobs program, extension of unemployment insurance and subsidies to help people struggling to find the thousands of dollars they owe to landlords and mortgage companies, or preserving and expanding social welfare programs including food stamps. Not exactly. Joe’s has more important fish to fry— “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested… the [military] budget is going to have to be increased.” On the domestic side, it’s business as usual. The U.S. treasury will remain open to wealthy campaign donors needing a hand out from Uncle Sam. Not so when ordinary Americans need help— “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare…So we’re going to be limited.” (Ted Kaufman, advisor to Biden) Money for war and criminogenic corporations, for the American people another round of belt-tightening.
Let’s not forget another group subsisting on fumes. The forty-five million young Americans mired in $1.7 million of student debt. Instead of making major life decisions as they enter adulthood — living on their own, getting married, buying a home—half of college grads are moving back with their parents. The president-elect doesn’t feel their pain — “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. I have no empathy for it…” (When Joe attended college in the sixties, average tuition room and board was just over $1,000 ($9,818 in 2017 dollars). In 2017 the whole package costs on average $24,091, a whopping 143% increase)
Then there’s the growing gap between the few very wealthy Americans and the rest of us. Among the last three presidents, the 1% received over $15 trillion in tax breaks and subsidies. Welcome to plutocratic America where the rich get richer while the rest of us are hanging on by our toenails. And according to president-elect Joe that’s the way it’s going to stay. Tax policy in his new administration — “Nothing will fundamentally change.”
It’s been fifty years since the first Earth Day in 1970. The number of Americans expressing serious concern about the fate of the earth has increased dramatically. In a 2020 survey six in ten Americans were worried about climate change, up from 44% in 2009. [Pew Research Center]. How will the Biden administration answer the concern of these Americans —“I am not banning fracking [a major cause of climate catastrophe]. Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking.” [Biden in Pittsburgh]
Joe has an equally out-to-lunch position on single payer national health insurance — “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now.” Moral: the $43 million the health care industry lavished on Joe’s campaign was money well-spent.
Is it too late to remake Joe Biden into a president for all the people? He won by not being Donald Trump. But will he govern like Trump and his ex-boss Obama? A look into the crystal ball is far from encouraging. This is the guy whose best friends are his donors, the movers and shakers at Goldman Sachs, lords of the universe at tech companies and Silicon Valley, Wall Street hucksters, the military-industrial complex, top CEO’s in finance and every war-loving neo-con in and out of government. They’re already lining up to get their payback. Flattery oozes out of every oligarchic pore. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the richest person in the world, purred that Biden’s victory signified that “unity, empathy and decency are not characteristics of a bygone era.” Bill Gates is “looking forward to working with the new administration … on getting the surging pandemic under control, engaging partners around the world on issues like poverty and climate change, and addressing issues of inequality and opportunity at home…” The nauseating cavalcade of the well-heeled lining up to kiss the ring of their benefactor tells us all we need to know about the next four years. President Biden will govern the very same way as the last two occupants of the Oval Office. The new boss — same as the old boss(es).
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