Corporate Media Can’t Undertand Biden’s Unpopularity

A New York Times columnist on Saturday expressed bewilderment as to Biden’s unpopularity, finally concluding that it must be because borrowing money for homes or cars is expensive.

I’m not saying that’s entirely wrong, but here are some additional possibilities.

There’s the ever-worsening inequality, but also the ever-worsening healthcare system, and the ever-worsening climate collapse. In the absence of radical change, many crises will go on getting worse, and each new occupant of the White House will gain ever more unpopularity as a result, regardless of whether he or she did more or less than the previous guy in the way of token mitigation.

Then there’s the war on Gaza and the endless wars and militarism and military spending and militarization of the border. Most people want Biden to stop providing the arms and the vetoes and the propaganda support for genocide. Most people have grown up being told that’s the very worst thing in the world. Now they watch Biden every day leading the charge for the very worst thing in the world. The fact that the corporate media pretends that Biden is trying to aid the very people he’s killing cannot be expected to completely fool everyone — especially people not paid the salary of a columnist to perform the function of failing to understand.

Then there’s this: Biden and Trump set records for unpopularity as candidates last time. They’re bound to break them this time.

Biden got over that hump last time by pretending to be Bernie Sanders. Here are 25 ways he could, if he wanted, follow through on his pretenses of four years ago:

  1. Undo all of his new drilling permits to stop breaking his promise of “No more drilling on federal lands, period.” This is in Biden’s power.
  2. Create free college for families paid less than $125,000 a year. (Party platform.) (Campaign website.) Biden can do this alone.
  3. Provide $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower. (Party platform.) (Campaign website.) Biden has claimed he has the power to cancel $10,000 but not $50,000, yet failed to actually cancel $10,000.
  4. “[E]nd support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and help bring the war to an end.” (Party platform.) (Also: Campaign website.) I mean actually do it. That means stop sending weapons to Saudi Arabia. This is in Biden’s power. He could also simply give his Party members in Congress permission to end the war with legislation as they did when Trump was president, and then not veto it as Trump did.
  5. “Immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding immigrant children in for-profit prisons.” (Campaign website.) Biden could do this now. He hasn’t fully done it. He also promised to compensate separated families and could keep that promise right now but is choosing to break it.
  6. Create a $15/hour minimum wage. This was promised on Biden’s campaign website and in the Party platform. We’ve seen no sign of it, and already it will be worth less than it would have been in Biden’s first year. (The senseless ongoing failure to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living is why an adjustment is needed in the first place.)
  7. Provide paid sick and family leave. This bit of the Party platform sounded really good back in 2020: “Democrats will implement paid sick days and a high-quality, comprehensive, and inclusive paid family and medical leave system that protects workers from the unfair choice between attending to urgent health or caretaking needs and earning a paycheck. We will fight to ensure workers are guaranteed at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers and family units, to enable new parents to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborns, foster or adopted children, and allow all workers to take extended time off to care for themselves or ailing loved ones.” See also: Campaign website.
  8. Remove the cap on Social Security taxes so that the rich pay their share, and expand Social Security benefits. These changes, laid out on Biden’s campaign website, and carefully analyzed by academics would help millions of people if, you know, Democrats actually made them.
  9. “Provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing.” That’s a quote from Biden’s campaign website. Here’s a quote from The Princess Bride: “I’m waiting!”
  10. Reduce the military spending that he’s already increased. This is a tricky demand, given that the Democrats have already done the opposite of what was promised in their Party platform, (Biden has asked Congress for a big increase each year and Congress has increased it beyond what he asked for each year) but it can be done. These words from that platform may inspire Democrats to action: “We spend 13 times more on the military than we do on diplomacy. We spend five times more in Afghanistan each year than we do on global public health and preventing the next pandemic. We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less.”
  11. Create free community college for two years. (Party platform.) (Campaign website.)
  12. “Provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds.” (Campaign website.) (Party platform.)
  13. Belatedly do the “Year One Legislative Agenda on Climate Change.” (Campaign website.) Here’s an excerpt: “Biden will make the largest-ever investment in clean energy research and innovation. After World War II, public investment in research and collaboration between universities and the private sector spurred American innovation, led to rapid economic and job growth, and helped build a strong middle class. The Biden plan will double down on this approach to create the industries of the future by investing $400 billion over ten years. That’s twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. This investment will enable us to develop new technological break-throughs that will create jobs and drastically reduce emissions.”
  14. Put $2 trillion into clean energy. (Campaign website.) “Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.”
  15. “Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities – ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.” (Campaign website.)
  16. [R]epeal decades-old authorizations for the use of military force. (Party platform.)
  17. Create a healthcare “public option.” (Campaign website.) (Party platform.)
  18. Lower the age for Medicare. (Party platform.)
  19. Expand voting rights, including for people convicted of felonies. (Party platform.) The promised changes included automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, early voting, universal vote-from-home and vote-by-mail options, and an election day holiday.
  20. Reform campaign financing. (Campaign website.) “Biden will: Introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections. . . . Enact legislation to provide voluntary matching public funds for federal candidates receiving small dollar donations. . . . Restrict SuperPACs. . . . End dark money groups. . . . Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby.”
  21. Get weapons of war off streets. (Campaign website.) “In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection. Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will: Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. . . . Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities.”
  22. Allow union organizing. (Campaign website.) (Party platform.) “Biden will go beyond the PRO Act by enacting legislation to impose even stiffer penalties on corporations and to hold company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts, including criminally liable when their interference is intentional . . . . A co-sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act, Biden supports workers choosing to form a union if a majority signs authorization cards empowering a union to represent them. He will go beyond the PRO Act by allowing workers to use this process, called ‘card check,’ as an initial option for forming a union, not merely an option granted when the employer has illegally interfered in the election process. . . . Ban state laws prohibiting unions from collecting dues or comparable payments from all workers who benefit from union representation that unions are legally obligated to provide.”
  23. Eliminate cash bail, mandatory minimums, the death penalty, or the criminalization of marijuana. They’re all on Biden’s campaign website.
  24. Make D.C. a state. (Party platform.)
  25. Tax the oligarchs. (Party platform.) (Campaign website.) “Democrats will take action to reverse the Trump Administration’s tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans and rewarding corporations for shipping American jobs overseas. We will crack down on overseas tax havens and close loopholes that are exploited by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. We will make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. We will make sure investors pay the same tax rates as workers and bring an end to expensive and unproductive tax loopholes, including the carried interest loophole. Corporate tax rates, which were cut sharply by the 2017 Republican tax cut, must be raised, and ‘trickle-down’ tax cuts must be rejected. Estate taxes should also be raised back to the historical norm.”

Breaking promises is usually unpopular. Breaking promises that you had to fake in order to pass for popular in the first place is pretty damaging. The fact that the corporate media does not mention any of this, and that many people may be only vaguely aware of this, doesn’t change the fact that all these lies were sold to people four years ago and are much harder to sell now — and for the most part the sales pitch isn’t even being attempted.

Are these mere possibilities, as I called them above? Are these not quite obviously actual reasons for the unpopularity of Joe Biden? Should we be more or less worried that the corporate media cannot see that, that it seems to have deluded itself rather than its consumers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.