Joe Biden celebrate the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act—ARP

Author : flamengsis
Publish Date : 2021-04-08 16:21:44


Joe Biden celebrate the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act—ARP

On March 12, President Joe Biden held a press conference with Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to celebrate the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act—ARP, for short. With his party’s other leading figures around him in the Rose Garden, discussing the first major product of their “unified” control over the executive branch and Congress, it was as close to an official mission statement as the new president has taken the opportunity to make.

After emphasizing the parts of the huge, deficit-financed spending bill that provide direct payments to low-income and middle-class Americans, Biden took a metaphorical step back to describe what he believes it accomplishes philosophically. “The bill does one more thing, which I think is really important,” he said. “It changes the paradigm.” Specifically, he said, “for the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first.” About three weeks later, Biden went to Pittsburgh to introduce an even larger spending proposal—ostensibly related to infrastructure, but really just a plan for trying to fix everything—and said he wants it financed by tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations.

Joe Biden Is Waging Class Warfare Without the War
The president’s passive-aggressive leftism.

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Changing the paradigm by redistributing money from the rich to the poor and the middle class is a plan Bernie Sanders could (and does) support, described in a way that’s only a thesaurus away from Elizabeth Warren’s call for big, structural change. It’s an embrace of the kind of populism that was described for years—by people like Joe Biden—as being too divisive and disruptive to appeal to the American public as a whole. And according to the polls, the American public as a whole loves it! They’re eating it up, like a bunch of hogs!

How is he getting away with it? The answer probably involves some structural factors—the ever-widening maw of inequality and segregation that threatens to pull the American dream once and for all into its vast darkness, and such—and some good timing, courtesy of accelerating vaccine distribution and the comparative effect of having taken over from one of the worst presidents ever. But another thing that differentiates Biden from the Democrats who were considered unelectable radicals for proposing the things he’s doing is the way he talks.

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Consider this thesis statement from the speech Sanders gave when he announced his 2020 campaign.

Today, I want to welcome you to a campaign which tells the powerful special interests who control so much of our economic and political life that we will no longer tolerate the greed of corporate America and the billionaire class—greed which has resulted in this country having more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth.

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Sanders went on to name the enemy, or, rather, list the many enemies: “the private health insurance companies,” “the pharmaceutical industry,” “Walmart, the fast food industry, and other low-wage employers,” “corporate America,” “the fossil fuel industry,” “the prison-industrial complex,” “the top 1 percent and the large profitable corporations,” “large, multinational corporations,” and “Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry and a corrupt campaign finance system that enables billionaires to buy elections.” He used the words destroyed, attacked, slashed, and starvation, and described “greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior” in addition to “greed, hatred, and lies.” He referred three times to a “struggle,” and twice each to a “fight” and a “revolution,” using the phrase justice on its own six times and moral responsibility once.

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Elizabeth Warren’s campaign announcement speech was similar, although Warren spent less time rallying moral outrage against particular depraved outcomes and more time outlining the history and mechanisms of a system she described six times as being “rigged” against the middle and working classes. Her remarks opened with a description of a strike by tens of thousands of textile workers in 1912 during which some strikers were killed, and went on to sketch out the means by which lobbyists and donors, in her telling, manipulate a corrupt government for the benefit of wealthy special interests in the present day. What united both Sanders and Warren’s visions was confrontation. The forces against them were strong, active, and irredeemable, and while they could be surmounted, it would take a fight, or a revolution.

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Biden has adopted the descriptive language of the left in many ways, making frequent reference to the portion of the Trump tax cuts that benefited the top 1 percent of earners (83 percent, he says), citing the idea of “rewarding work, not wealth” as a mantra, and projecting concern for the people and groups who have been “left behind” by those “at the top.” But he hasn’t co-opted its sense of confrontation. Words he hasn’t used (in the context of American politics) since becoming president include cheat, corrupt, donor, greed, lobbyist, rigged, or structural. Twelve of the 14 times he’s said Wall Street, it’s been to suggest that its analysts support his economic vision. He has mentioned fighting for U.S. companies (“to ensure that American businesses are positioned to compete and win on the global stage”) but not against them. At his most hostile, Biden will lament the disproportionate benefits accrued by “corporations” or the misguided ideas of “my Republican friends.” (The exception to this rule is Donald Trump, whose tenure and policy objectives he mentions with a casual contempt.)

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