A new NYT/Siena poll shows Biden trailing Trump badly in a number of key battleground states: Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Considering Trump’s deep deficits, up to and including advocating termination of the Constitution, it seems bewildering that Biden can trail Trump so badly.
On paper, Biden has been an enormously successful president. As listed in Vox:
- American Rescue Plan: The $1.9 trillion bill contained significant Covid-19 relief as the administration sought to combat the pandemic in 2021. It included $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, an expanded child tax credit that had a notable impact on child poverty rates, enhanced unemployment insurance, and state and local aid. In the wake of its passage, there have been concerns from some economists that the bill was too large and contributed to inflation.
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill: The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was a historic investment in the country’s infrastructure, including new funding for water pipes, trains, roads, and high-speed internet.
- Inflation Reduction Act: The Inflation Reduction Act contained $485 billion in spending and $790 billion in offsets that would cover that spending. The legislation includes a substantial investment in clean energy tax credits, as well as a new policy that enables Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with the goal of lowering the costs of a handful of expensive drugs.
- CHIPS Act: The $52 billion CHIPS Act is dedicated to bolstering US semiconductor manufacturing, and contains measures to subsidize or expand new facilities.
- Gun safety: This bipartisan bill fell short of more ambitious reforms, like an assault weapons ban, but it included funding for states to implement “red flag” laws, more screening for gun buyers under 21, and a crackdown on illegal guns.
- Respect for Marriage Act: The Respect for Marriage Act officially repealed the Defense of Marriage Act and guarantees that all states will recognize same-sex marriages, providing important federal protections if the Obergefell ruling were overturned.
- Electoral Count Reform Act: The ECRA specifies the vice president’s role in the counting of electoral votes, and makes it harder for lawmakers to challenge the outcome of a presidential election, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the January 6 riot.
- Judges: As of the start of 2023, Biden had confirmed 100 judges including 30 circuit court nominees, 69 district court judges, and one Supreme Court justice. That surpasses Trump’s record at the same point in his presidency, though he’ll have to keep up the pace to surpass Trump’s four-year record.
- Executive actions: Biden has pardoned thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession under federal law, and taken a number of executive actions. These actions include a rollback of Trump policies like the travel ban, limited efforts to strengthen background checks for guns, and an attempt to cancel some student loan debt, which has been challenged in court.
An impressive list! However, the operative words here are “on paper.” All these accomplishments, plus an historically low unemployment rate, don’t translate into the actual lived experience of most workers. The official unemployment data ignores “discouraged workers” who have given up looking and those holding down 2 or 3 jobs to cobble together a living wage.
Groceries, gas and utilities are painfully high. Credit card and mortgage rates are skyrocketing. Millions have no health insurance. The list goes on.
All these problems flow from capitalism, not from Biden now or Trump before him. It’s worth noting that inflation is a worldwide problem across all capitalist countries. In fact, the U.S. has done a better job controlling inflation than most other countries.
Regrettably, neither Biden or Trump can overcome the inherent inequities and injustices of capitalism — moreover both support capitalism. You can make a case that Biden and the Democrats will do more than Republicans to support workers, but the problems facing workers have persisted over generations. And will continue.
The answer lies in socialism.
Posted November 6, 2023
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