FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Biden and Bloomberg Want Uncle Sam to Defer to Uncle Scrooge

The extremely rich Americans who are now frantically trying to figure out how to intervene in the Democratic presidential campaign make me wonder how different they are from the animated character who loved frolicking in money and kissing dollar bills while counting them. If Uncle Scrooge existed as a billionaire in human form today, it’s easy to picture him aligned with fellow plutocrats against the “threat” of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The exceedingly wealthy are usually content to stay in the shadows while their combined financial leverage and media power keep top government officials more or less in line. But the grassroots strengths of the Warren and Sanders campaigns have jolted some key oligarchs into overt action.

“At least 16 billionaires have in recent months spoken out against what they regard as the danger posed by the populist Democrats, particularly over their proposals to enact a ‘wealth tax’ on vast fortunes,” the Washington Post reported over the weekend. Many of those billionaires are “expressing concern” that the populist Democrats “will blow the election to Trump by veering too far left.”

But are those billionaires more worried about a wealth tax that will curtail vast fortunes, or about Trump winning re-election? Are we supposed to believe the far-fetched notion that voters will opt for Trump over the Democratic nominee because they don’t want billionaires to pay higher taxes?

The biggest fear among the billionaire class is not that a progressive Democratic nominee will lose against Trump. The biggest fear is that such a nominee will win — thus gaining presidential muscle to implement measures like a wealth tax that would adversely affect the outsized fortunes of the 0.1 percent.

Such fears are causing a step-up of attacks on Sanders and Warren, and even some early indications of trauma. “Piling on against the wealth tax have been corporate celebrities from Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” the Post reported on Saturday. Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg “suggested Sanders’s call to abolish billionaires could hurt philanthropies and scientific research by giving the government too much decision-making power. . . . Appearing on CNBC, billionaire investor Leon Cooperman choked up while discussing the impact a wealth tax could have on his family.”

Sanders often points to the fact that just three individuals — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett — own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the U.S. population. Gates has publicly denounced Warren’s proposal for a wealth tax. It shouldn’t surprise us now to learn that earlier this year Bezos urged Bloomberg to run for president. We might call it ruling-class unity — which is a point that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly made while campaigning alongside Sanders in Iowa when the news broke.

“Of course!” AOC told a Des Moines Register reporter. “They’ve got class solidarity. The billionaires are looking out for each other. They’re willing to transcend difference and background and even politics. The fact that Bill Gates seems more willing to vote for Donald Trump than anyone else tells you everything you need to know about how far they’re willing to go to protect their excess, at the cost to everyday Americans.”

Moments later, Sanders joked: “Jeff Bezos, worth $150 billion, supporting Mike Bloomberg, who’s worth only $50 billion — that’s real class solidarity.” And Sanders tied in the climate emergency: “When you talk about class warfare within the context of climate change, like Alexandria was just saying, the fossil fuels industry makes billions [and] billions of dollars in profits every single year, and the people who suffer the most are often lowest-income people. But it’s not just low-income people. Family farmers in Iowa and agriculture in Iowa is going to be suffering.”

News of Bloomberg’s looming entry into the Democratic presidential race elicited mass-media awe because of his wealth. A Republican until 2007, Bloomberg didn’t become a registered Democrat until October 2018. His record as New York City’s mayor included hostility toward labor unions in the public sector, support for police use of stop-and-frisk targeting racial minorities, and vocal antipathy toward the Obama administration’s minimal Dodd-Frank regulation of the financial industry. Bloomberg is a mismatch with most Democrats.

For most of this year, Biden seemed the best bet for moguls like Bloomberg. But confidence receded as the Biden for President campaign lost ground — not only because of his continuing “gaffs” and stumbling syntax but also because more information kept surfacing about his actual record while in the Senate from 1973 through 2008.

Further erosion of support for Biden can be expected due to a pair of powerful articles in the current issue of The Nation magazine. An “anti-endorsement” editorial summarizes his career as a servant of establishment power, concluding: “On issue after issue, Biden’s candidacy offers Trump a unique opportunity to muddy what should be a devastatingly clear choice. The Nation therefore calls on Biden to put service to country above personal ambition and withdraw from the race.” And an investigative piece breaks new ground in documenting how Biden and his immediate family have been enmeshed in scarcely legal conflicts of interest and pay-to-play corruption for several decades.

These days, for billionaires trying to line up a new Democratic president, good help is hard to find. Biden is willing as ever but perhaps not able. In effect, seeing Biden falter, Bloomberg is on the verge of cutting out the middleman. At this point, why hope that activation of pro-Biden Super PACs will be sufficient, when Bloomberg can step in and hugely outspend everyone out of his own pocket?

But even if it turns out that Biden has outlived his usefulness to the billionaire class, no one should doubt his unwavering loyalty. Biden offered reassurance during a speech at the Brookings Institution last year. “I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” he said. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble. . . The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”

The first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would have agreed. John Jay liked to say: “Those who own the country ought to govern it.” Now, the rhetoric is quite different. But the reality is up for grabs in the realm we call politics.

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail