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Biden’s Unappealing Fundraising Appeal Letter to My Mother

Dear Joe,

I recently read a fundraising letter from your campaign that was addressed to my mother (by her first name) who turned 101 in 2019. You let her know that you are running for president and need her help. You describe her “as a prominent supporter of the Obama-Biden administration” which was news to me and went on to claim she is “a well-known advocate and leader in the Oakland area.”

Joe, my mom, who passed away in April, never lived in Oakland or in the Oakland area. You could probably ask every resident of Oakland if they ever heard of my mom. With the exception of family members and a small number of friends, they would all say no.

FYI: After she passed away, I arranged to have her mail forwarded to my Oakland address.

How did you come up with this nonsense about my mom? What kind of firm are you using to gather data on potential supporters and funders?

Much of the space of your letter is devoted to going after Trump. On a daily basis, he has proven why he is unfit to hold any office. You describe the time of the Trump regime as an “aberrant moment in time.”

“An aberrant moment in time” suggests your time as vice president was normal. What happened then was, unfortunately, all too typical and ordinary. During those eight years, the Obama-Biden administration failed to prosecute numerous people who had tortured other human beings during Bush’s time in office. It sent more troops into Afghanistan; it escalated the use of drones that killed alleged enemies as well as innocent people; it went to war in Libya; and it failed to vigorously oppose the coup against a democratically elected government in Honduras that resulted in conditions there that have prompted many people to flee to the United States.

Additionally, during the eight years before Trump, serious environmental problems were inadequately addressed as oil production, for which Obama takes credit, increased dramatically.

Furthermore, the Obama-Biden administration backed programs to spend over a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. A news article on the U.S. upgrading of this arsenal quotes Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry saying “the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War.”[1]

In your letter, you bemoan how, under Trump, the gains of “the rising stock market…are only benefitting a few” while “everyday Americans are hurting.” Wasn’t that hurt present when you were vice president and millions were suffering from food insecurity, living in poverty and the wealthiest were accumulating an even greater share of the nation’s wealth than they held under Bush?[2] Have you forgotten that during the great recession, many lost their personal homes to foreclosures while the Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden administrations provided billions to bailout the financial industry that is predominantly owned by and serves the wealthy?

If what happened during the eight years before Trump is a period of normalcy, many people might prefer a period of abnormality.

You want to stop Trump. You ask my deceased mom to “stand with” you and send you some money by using an enclosed envelope unless she wants to provide money sooner by going to your website. Joe, my mom had not used a computer in years, perhaps accounting for the flawed data you have about her.

You go on to write that if she helps your campaign with a donation, she and you together “will strengthen the backbone of this country—the middle class—so that this time everybody comes along.” And end up where?

This claim about the middle class caused me some confusion. Is the U.S. a society consisting of a few wealthy people with everyone else being in the middle class? You claim the middle class “built” the U.S. Were slaves members of the middle class? Children working in factories? Are farmworkers? Miners? Dishwashers and maids? to name a few.

Sorry Joe, but any reasonable definition would recognize that the vast majority of the U.S. population are not in the middle class, but belong to the working class.

Perhaps a key issue is your desire for “the very wealthy” to “pay their fair share” of taxes because they “should not pay lower tax rates than firefighters or teachers.” What should they pay; the same rate? I visited your website where there is the statement “Economic inequality is pulling this country apart.” The site contains tax proposals that include getting “…rid of the capital gains loophole for multi-millionaires. Warren Buffett said it best: he should not pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.”

During your time as vice-president, the capital gains loophole was maintained. Furthermore, Buffett does not pay taxes on gains in the value of his wealth unless he sells his assets that have increased in value resulting in the gain showing up as income on his tax return. Your proposals will have a minimal impact on the level of wealth inequality especially since most wealth will remain untaxed.

Having Buffett pay his taxes at the same or even a higher rate (which you favor is not clear) than his secretary will result in, at best, his unearned income being taxed at the same rate at which earned income from working is taxed. However, unlike Buffet, those working also have to pay social security taxes. This does not strike me as very fair.

The last part of your letter is devoted to lofty ideals that you claim are centered on the founding principle “that all are created equal” and that “it’s time to treat each other with dignity.” Please tell that to the homeless people living in squalor during the Obama-Biden administration and the millions of children living in poverty while Obama saw fit to spend more money on the military than was spent on it during the Bush regime.[3] In Obama’s words,

“…over the past ten years, since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace.  Over the next ten years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this—it will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.  In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush Administration.  And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong—and our nation secure—with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.”

Your mailing included a card with a picture of you smiling and waving. On the back of the card in big letters is:

“Our best days still lie ahead. Together we will choose hope over fear, unity over division and truth over lies.”

This bland and all too common political rhetoric may make people feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it is essentially meaningless.

Please save some trees by no longer wasting paper writing letters with problematic messages, especially to deceased people such as my mother who will not be sending you any money now or in the future.

Sincerely,

Rick Baum

Notes

1. See https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-modernize-specialreport/special-report-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal-u-s-stokes-new-arms-race-idUSKBN1DL1AH

2. See my articles at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/13/the-federal-reserve-boards-recent-figures-on-the-outrageous-unequal-distribution-of-wealth/ and https://newpol.org/issue_post/inequality-was-increasing-trump/

3. Ibid.

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Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.

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