I was reading Pres. Biden’s speech to joint session of Congress on Wednesday (4/28/21) and I came away with the impression that he’s a nice old man, but he’s not serious. Not serious and not up to the challenge of governing these Divided States of America.
In his speech, Mr. Biden covered a lot of ground, used a lot of words, but platitudes are not policies – and policies without strategies are just a wish list.
Here are 24 examples—
No plan on helping inoculate the rest of the world in a – say it with me – pandemic. You want to win the 21st Century? This is how you lead: get the vaccine or its formula into the arms of those who need it. Everyone who needs it. The herd needing immunity is global, the world is round. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe.
Rescue checks: $2,000 promised; $1,400 delivered; the former guy delivered more. And this isn’t the J&J vaccine – one shot won’t do you for the year.
Rental “assistance” – but no rent relief or rent/mortgage cancellation? Seriously?
Affordable Care Act “expansion” – but no Medicare for all; not even a public option. Just more federal dollars dumped on big insurance companies that deny us care.
So “the economy” created more jobs – but no federal jobs guarantee, no UBI, no hike in the minimum wage?
His reference to China was embarrassing, I gotta tell ya: China is beating us “to win the 21st Century” because they are actually helping their people out of poverty. Besides. What does it even mean to win the 21st Century?
The “American Jobs Plan” he proposed is a half-measure, with the proceeds going directly to businesses, not directly to people.
Also embarrassing is saying “let’s also pass the $15 minimum wage” like you just thought of it – like you never beforehad the opportunity?
When Mr. Biden mentioned non-defense spending, that was a bad move: it only reminds people that defense spending is out of control – proposed to go higher than even 45 took it, when we have no real enemies.
“We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future,” said Mr. Biden. What he’s really saying is that businesses have to dominate, and share no climate-saving, life-saving technology with the world – all for private profit and jingoistic enjoyment.
Another half-measure offered is “access” to a good education – not a guarantee, not free college for all. Just that weasel word, “access.” Historically, you can’t educate your way out of poverty – there have to be good jobs at the other end and the private sector cannot guarantee them. You know who can? Ask FDR.
Tax credits? Tax credits are a Republican solution; a Child Tax Credit does not put money into anybody’s pockets if they haven’t enough to begin with, or make too little to pay taxes.
The ACA is another Republican solution: it keeps wealthy insurance companies wealthy and doesn’t cover everybody like Medicare for all would – and Mr. Biden has the power to expand Medicare by executive order. He won’t because his donors would scream louder that the majority of voters are screaming.
Biden’s biggest lie was this: “So how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plans?” He worries about deficits when helping people, just like a Republican – but not when expanding the military budget when the US has no enemies. Hint: Mr. Biden worries too much about deficits. He doesn’t have to “pay for” anything: taxes do not pay for government programs – that’s the feature of being a monopoly currency-issuer like the USG. Government spending creates money in the economy; taxes remove money from the economy. Since only US dollars can pay US taxes, and only the USG can issue US dollars, spending is limited only by limits on real resources to buy and distribute – and by inflation. And inflation just isn’t happening.
Furthermore, taxing corporations is a policy necessity, not a fiscal necessity; Biden wants to pretend that increasing corporate taxes a little – which he knows his rich buddies in Congress will never approve – will “pay for” his programs. But what he should be proposing is a corporate minimum tax – not just a tax on capital gains equal to income taxes – so everybody pays their fair share, and all corporations are invested in the economy from which they benefit. It’s not a serious suggestion because he won’t do this. His donors would scream louder than the majority of voters are screaming.
Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement! That’s like pissing on a fire. This is not bold; it is another half-measure. We need to lead with a Green New Deal. If you want to imitate FDR.
Biden promised that “America will stand up to unfair trade practices” abroad, but apparently not to unfair business practices domestically and unfair taxation of profits made abroad.
That “strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific” is just asking for war with a nuclear-armed nation that has never threatened the US. Just as NATO expansion risks war with another nuclear-armed nation. China and Russia are rivals, not enemies. This isn’t leading; it’s warmongering.
One of his most dangerous statements Mr. Biden made – “No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. A president has to represent the essence of our country” – is an excuse to invade any country in violation of international law. It’s also not serious because if we obviously can’t ensure the basic human rights of our own people. So where comes our moral authority to meddle in the affairs of sovereign states abroad? (Is it to feed our military-industrial complex?)
One of several lies in this speech is Mr. Biden’s promise of “ending the forever war in Afghanistan” – which he isn’t ending, only privatizing. And then he lied about the mission in Afghanistan and its success. And he promised more war by saying, “we will maintain an over-the-horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland.”
He mentioned the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, but nothing about structural change in US policing – only a half-measure bearing Floyd’s name that would not have saved Floyd’s life. That conviction will be the excuse to do nothing, to say the “system” works.
It’s embarrassing for Mr. Biden to even talk about immigration when there are still kids in cages.
He said nothing about ending the filibuster – the chief impediment to passing his proposals. Or about reigning-in the corporate conservatives in his own party who will frustrate his plans. It’s almost as if he’s counting on their obstruction because he’s not seriously fighting for his proposals. Say it’s not so, Joe!
Finally… It’s embarrassing for Mr. Biden to say, in any context, “The country supports it. Congress should act” when the country supports many reforms on which Biden will never ask Congress to act: the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, paid maternity leave, government funding for childcare, boosting the minimum wage, tuition-free college and student debt relief, gun control, expanded unemployment benefits, abolishing ICE, allowing prisoners to vote, reparations for slavery, increasing the inheritance tax, legalizing marijuana, worker representation on corporate boards, a cap on credit card interest rates, barring members of Congress from owning individual stocks or becoming lobbyists for years after leaving office, direct government financing of pharmaceutical research, and so on.
As I said, platitudes are not policies – and policies without strategies are just a wish list. And that is why I say Joe Biden is not a leader and is not serious. I hope he proves me wrong.
Ronald Bruce Meyer
Our Fearless Leader.
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