Biden’s Broken Promises Spell Hard Times Ahead

Photograph Source: U.S. Secretary of Defense – CC BY 2.0

First it was the minimum wage. Then student loans. Then the $300 weekly unemployment benefit. Then ditching the God-awful Trump tax cuts for billionaires. There was also the public option. Biden sure was racking up a lot of things he wouldn’t fight for, and guess what they all share? They’re all things working people care about – vitally.

Biden and the Dems may figure they can abandon workers, because who will they turn to? Ignominious Trump? The would-be Republican Reich devoted to worker destruction? Not likely. But they could stay home during the mid-terms and, even more devastatingly for Dems, in 2024. Then we’ll have a one-party autocracy, as one twitter wag put it, with giant bronze statues of Trump everywhere. Remember: Obama’s betrayal of tens of millions of workers to bail out bankers ultimately gave us Trump. And that demagogue waits in the wings. Biden’s broken promises may just give him the opening he needs.

Blaming Joe “I Just Don’t Give a Shit” Manchin for Biden’s broken promises is lame. A president like LBJ would have beaten Manchin into shape within his first few weeks of office. LBJ’s DNC would have defunded the renegade senator tout de suite. Even more pathetic is Biden hiding behind the Senate parliamentarian. When confronted with decisions from this person that they didn’t like, GOP senators earlier in the century just fired him.

Biden could have instructed his party’s senators at least to overrule the parliamentarian, when that nobody ruled against including the minimum wage in the covid relief bill. The Dems could even – oh my goodness! – have removed her. But Biden, like most Dems, doesn’t know how to play hardball. That’s because he’s got one arm tied behind his back by his Wall Street donors. Only a few Dem senators don’t. They are the only ones who display any guts when it comes to looking out for the 50 to 60 percent of Americans struggling to pay their bills, as they straggle through each week on a dicey paycheck.

Biden may be neither as colorful nor as proficient a liar as Trump, but he certainly has told some whoppers. Very notable among them was the lie that he intended to cancel student debt. At least he had the decency to try to weasel out of it – unlike Trump, who would have flimflammed outright that he never made such a promise. No, Biden vacillated, first revising his follower’s hopes down to maybe $50,000 worth of debt. Next he said he’d cancel possibly $10,000 worth. But in the end, acting like the cheapskate bagman for financial corporations that his enemies long claimed he was, Biden offered non-disabled student debtors who had voted for him precisely zero dollars of relief.

Adding insult to injury, back in February Biden’s justice department went “to the mat for former secretary of education Betsy DeVos,” as Colin Kalmbacher reported in Law&Crime. DeVos, the Cruella DeVille of the Trump regime, had become the target of demands from students “ripped-off by for-profit scam colleges.” These students wanted a deposition from DeVos. But the Biden justice department rushed to her aid, alleging in their filing that the students’ “demand for a former cabinet official’s deposition is extraordinary, unnecessary and unsupported.” According to DOJ attorneys, the students’ demand “is a transparent attempt at harassment – part of a PR campaign that has been central to [the students’] litigation strategy…It should be rejected and the court should quash the subpoena.”

According to Kalmbacher, this case involves hundreds of students defrauded by for-profit colleges across the country. “The students, all federal student loan borrowers who are currently in debt, sued the U.S. Department of Education because DeVos’s agency was accused of serially dragging its feet when asked to process student loan debt cancellation requests. Multiple courts in the Northern District of California agreed with the students. DeVos herself ultimately admitted that student borrowers had paid for educational programs that were effectively ‘worthless.’”

In sum, DeVos’s department continued to try to collect loan payments, which had been made for these bogus programs, even in violation of a court order. But do these students get any sympathy from Biden’s justice department? No. It’s instead busy accusing the students “of being little more than media hounds intent on harassment.” That’s how the Biden legal wizards dismiss fraud that injured loads of defenseless people. Talk about kicking folks when they’re down!

One can’t help suspecting coordination here between Biden abandoning his promise to cancel student debt and his DOJ attacking those debtors with the ferocity of Doberman Pinschers. Such suspicion is corrosive. It makes you wonder, what next? Well, I’ll tell you. The little that’s left of the Green New Deal.

Anybody with a brain – and there are plenty such in the Biden administration, unlike Trump’s – knows that if we want a green energy future, we cannot pursue Trump’s disastrous policy of decoupling our economy from China’s. It’s not only lousy policy to crap all over your biggest trading partner, it also sacrifices the planet to runaway climate change. That’s because the technology for wind and solar energy and for electric vehicles depends on rare earth minerals. China has 60 percent of the world’s supply of those. The other 40 percent are in locations of dubious accessibility. Even more eye-popping: 90 percent of the processing of those rare earth minerals occurs where? You guessed it. In China.

Biden got off to a decent start on the climate. But he promptly decided to rest on his laurels – with a vengeance. Yes, he stopped the Keystone oil pipeline in its tracks. Now what about other pipelines, like DAPL and Line 3? Because fighting climate change isn’t a half-hearted extra-curricular activity (though you’d never know that from the actions of most governments). And, crucially, what about China, rare earth minerals and the green energy revolution? What about some foresight and careful planning instead of insults, insinuations and ramping up a cold war?

Ruinously, congress aggravates that war. On June 7, the New York Times reported that congress was, essentially, encouraging Biden’s worst instincts on China, with a new bill to re-industrialize the U.S., to “protect” it from that supposedly rapacious competitor. Biden needs no such encouragement. But there’s no one in sight to put the brakes on this suicidal push. Maybe senator Chuck “Wall Street’s the Only Street” Schumer? Not likely. In this article he comes across as one of the China-hysteria’s chief boosters. And the next day, the Times reported that this expensive, unnecessary and, despite mendacious disclaimers, militarily aggressive bill passed the senate. One can only hope it dies in the House.

No doubt these crazed senatorial Sinophobes will tout all the mythical jobs this reindustrialization will create. But if it’s anything like big congressional projects since the 2008 bank bailout or Trump’s first covid relief bill, most of the cash will wind up in the paychecks of ceos who’ve already bilked the government for a fortune. We need new, green energy businesses, not old rip-offs. One Times headline, “Senate Poised to Pass Huge Industrial Policy Bill to Counter China,” no doubt warmed the hearts of Pentagon planners, billionaire corporate bigwigs and rabid reactionaries in the bipartisan war party, but regardless of how these insecure imperialists spin it, it spells doom for a green energy future.

Biden needs the climate-change energy transformation. He needs those millions of jobs in the green energy sector. Because if he’s abandoning working people when it comes to student debt, the minimum wage, the $300 weekly unemployment and health-care, he better darn well have something else up his sleeve for them. That something else would be a job in the switch to green energy. But there’s no green energy without China. And oopsies! Sorry guys, I started a cold war with our chief trading partner, because the Pentagon says we can win a hot one – well, that just won’t cut it.


Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Busybody. She can be reached at her website.