by Claire Bayler
Biden won the election in November 2020 by promising that he “wasn’t Trump” and would roll back attacks on immigrants, people of color, and workers, if elected. As soon as the Sanders campaign folded and backed Biden, serious discussion of Medicare 4 All, a $15/hr federal minimum wage, canceling student debt, and other much-needed policies disappeared from the election cycle. Biden’s “honeymoon period” has been largely bolstered by the roll-out of the vaccine, the resultant re-opening of society and economic impact. Widespread relief cannot disguise that Biden is failing to deliver on his already-inadequate campaign promises including:
COVID-19 Relief Payments
In 2008, only the banks and big business were bailed out by the Obama administration. In 2020, Trump piloted direct payments to taxpayers, to boost his populist support. The Biden campaign was forced to similarly concede due to the depths of the economic crisis. Activists called for $2,000/month guaranteed income for the duration of the pandemic. Biden campaigned heavily on the promise of $2,000 stimulus checks, but only delivered a $1,400 one-time payment. Meanwhile, the recently leaked tax returns of the richest Americans prove how they pay little to no taxes (legally!), and the Biden administration’s priority is to uncover the leak. Not to mention his proposed budget does not include the promised increase in the estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest 0.2% of U.S. households.
Deliver “Public Option” Healthcare
Biden’s proposed budget utterly lacks a “public option”(government-run alternative to private insurance plans) and measures to control out-of-control prescription drug prices. His continued prioritization of for-profit healthcare over public health is unsurprising, given that during both his campaign and a global pandemic, Biden refused to support universal healthcare.
Tackle Student Debt
The Biden administration is celebrating student loan forgiveness for a mere 0.1% of the $1.7 trillion of student loan debt outstanding nationwide. This comes after decades of growing support for full cancellation, but only covers students who have been scammed by for-profit schools, are disabled, or other limited groups. The president has the immediate power to cancel all $1.7 trillion in student debt through the “Compromise and Settlement” authority. Instead of providing this huge economic boost to working people, Biden is delaying on extending the pause on student loan payments.
Address Climate Change
The US has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement—a purely symbolic climate plan with no mechanisms to hold countries accountable to their targets, targets which are wildly insufficient and are not being met. More telling is the appointment of John Kerry and Cedric Richmond to important climate-related positions. Biden and Kerry were both involved with the growth of US oil and gas production by 88% while part of the Obama Administration. Richmond is well-known for favoring fossil fuel campaign donations over tackling environmental issues in his former district. At the same time a heatwave in California is causing rolling blackouts as private utilities fail to provide adequate supply.
Racist and Police Violence
The Biden-Harris campaign courted the Black Lives Matter movement that re-erupted during the peak of the 2020 campaign cycle. The pair played up Harris’ identity as a woman of color, and Biden’s connection to Obama, while downplaying their roles in building and enforcing the racist prison-industrial complex. Since the Biden campaign and the national leadership of the BLM movement diverted action in the streets to the voting booths, the country has seen purely symbolic concessions to the idea of police reform. Chauvin’s conviction was an anomaly and a victory, but he was clearly thrown under the bus by the rest of the criminal-legal system in the hopes of appeasing protestors.
Biden signed Juneteenth into law as a federal holiday. He also approved COVID relief funds to be used to hire more police, even if it raises the total number beyond pre-pandemic levels – in the face of nationwide calls to slash bloated budgets.
Peace & Democracy
The US-funded state-of-the-art military in Israel waged war on Gaza for 11 days in May. Biden delayed a ceasefire and sold Israel 735 million USD worth of weapons during the violence. Even after a ceasefire was negotiated, weapons sold to Israel by the United States were employed in a second bombing campaign after right-wing Israeli nationalists marched through occupied East Jerusalem in June.
Though Biden emphasized ending construction of the border wall, “about 130 eminent domain cases remain active in Texas’s southern district court.” as recently as March 21st, three months after Biden issued an executive order that supposedly put a stop to the border wall.
This April, Biden deported an astronomical 109,963 people under Title 42, which allows for turning away people coming from countries impacted by a communicable disease. That’s nearly twice the number of people Trump deported through Title 42 in December.
The new administration’s first slate of immigration court appointees all received their initial offers during the Trump presidency. The administration has also taken the controversial step of reopening “child migrant facilities” created under the Trump administration, despite campaign promises to end the detention of children.
Not Just Biden
The Democrats control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. But they refuse to deliver on their campaign promises, use procedural or “bipartisanship” excuses. In reality, the Democrats are maintaining their role as a corporate political party advancing the interests of the capitalist class. Working people need a party of our own to win true democratic control of society and the economy.