Whatever those answers might be, Joe Biden and the Democrats are about to break all the records.
For a man who was compared to FDR – including by himself — and campaigned on roughly a million “day one” promises, the mask sure flew off the Biden administration swiftly. Most of his cabinet members aren’t even confirmed yet!
At the rate things are going, the Republican Party will dominate the 2022 midterms – when 34 Senate seats and 435 seats in the House are contested. The 2024 general election won’t be much different, barring some fundamental changes to the way Democrats govern.
Because repeating Obama’s disastrous 2008 recession playbook during a pandemic and even worse economic crisis isn’t going to ingratiate the Democratic Party to voters – especially when your corporate/bank bailouts, tax cuts for the wealthy, and austerity are served with a heaping pile of broken promises.
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When the ghost of Donald Trump finally fades from Americans’ minds, they’re going to want to know where their stimulus checks, $15 minimum wage, public healthcare option, and student loan forgiveness went – amongst other things.
“Give him time; he’s only been in the White House for a few weeks,” you’re probably saying.
Time isn’t the issue. Biden has already compromised or given up on multiple campaign promises – some of which he could have passed without Congress. Maybe he’ll turn things around, but 50 years of the former Delaware Senator’s legislative history says otherwise.
After all, “nothing will fundamentally change,” is a motto that only works if Donald Trump plays the villain.
$2,000 Checks, Immediately
Perhaps the most egregious “switcheroo” played on Democratic voters was over $2,000 survival checks.
It all started in December when Donald Trump threatened not to sign Congress’ last bipartisan stimulus package unless direct cash payments were raised from $600 to $2,000. GOP leaders were appalled while House Democrats called the President’s bluff, passing a bill to increase the size of the checks.
Republicans like Mitch McConnell, taking sole responsibility for taking cash out of Americans’ pockets, compelled Trump to sign the initial package. Meanwhile, two Senate runoff elections were taking place in Georgia – races the Republican candidates were favored to win.
The public was furious at the GOP for blocking their $2,000 payments. Democratic Party leadership noticed how popular the $2,000 checks were with the public and seized the moment.
Just take a look at these headlines:
- Jan 4 – CNN: “Biden says electing Georgia’s Ossoff and Warnock would lead to $2,000 stimulus checks”
- Jan 4 – Spectrum News: “Biden to Georgia Voters: Elect Ossoff, Warnock for $2,000 Stimulus Checks”
- Jan 5 – NBC News: “In Georgia, Democrats close with populist pitch vowing $2,000 stimulus checks”
“$2,000 checks” became a rallying cry; if Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were elected – giving Dems control of the Senate — your money would be on its way on “day one.”
In fact, Biden, the Georgia Senate candidates, and other prominent Democrats all continued campaigning on the promise of $2,000 checks after the $600 payments from Trump’s bill started being distributed – that last part is crucial.
I don't know you tell me what this says to you pic.twitter.com/9BsCKwQepc
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) January 15, 2021
From $2,000 to $1,400
The instant Ossoff and Warnock secured their two Senate seats, Joe Biden and company started reneging on the deal.
The President made subtle changes to the language he used when discussing the relief package. Promises that $2,000 “will go out immediately” shifted to Joe Biden “finish[ing] the job of getting a total of $2,000” to people.
Suddenly, the survival checks were $1400 — $600 had gone out in December (with Trump’s name on them), plus the new $1400 payments would equal “a total of $2,000 in direct relief.”
But Democrats never explained that when they promised Georgia voters “$2,000 checks,” they really meant “$1400 payments in addition to the $600 checks already approved by Congress.” Joe Biden explicitly said that Democrats winning both seats would “put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check — that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”
Oscar Zaro, a Democrat living in the historically conservative 14th Congressional District, voted for Biden and both Democratic Senators this election. His district turned out to vote in higher numbers in 2020 due, in large part, to the repeated vow of “$2,000 checks.”
“The last few weeks heading towards the runoff election, especially after Trump endorsed the $2,000 payments, Warnock and Ossoff made it a point to endorse and exclusively say ‘$2,000 checks,’” Zaro told CNBC.
“They really underestimate just how much people are hurting economically,” he added. Oscar’s not the only Georgian to feel betrayed by what political commentator Mehdi Hasan has deemed: “Biden’s first broken campaign promise.”
Rogelio Linares, an Atlanta resident, canvassed for neighborhoods for the Democrats ahead of the Senate runoff elections. “I was on the ground and I knocked over 1,000 doors,” he told Mediaite.
“At the doors, I was literally telling people, ‘$2K checks, you can rely on this.’ I’m a man of principle and morals and I feel like shit. I lied to them. I was lying to them the whole time. I was lying to people that were relying on this. At the time I didn’t know it was a lie. But that was not the reality.”
Rogelio says Georgia voters are disheartened and helpless after being taken advantage of by Democrats who no longer need their votes.
“I know people are pissed off about it,” Linares continued. “People are very mad about it. We are so on our knees as a country – we don’t have much leverage. The working class, small businesses [are] getting hammered. I’m pissed off; everyone’s pissed off; union workers are pissed off. It’s sad. It’s absurd. It’s disgusting — but there’s not much people can do.”
How many Georgians like Oscar Zaro and Rogelio Linares do you think will turn out to vote again two or four years from now?
With the upper chamber now split 50-50, conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia finds himself in a powerful position.
Democrats need every partisan vote to push legislation through Congress; Manchin is opposed to direct cash payments to Americans despite representing one of the nation’s poorest states.
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed?” Manchin asked during a Washington Post interview, adding that he would “absolutely not” support another round of survival checks. “And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”
In reality, now that the Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress, they need Joe Manchin to play the role Mitch McConnell has inhabited the past few years.
It’s a shell game. There’s always an “obstructor” for the other Democrats to point to and say, “gosh, we really want to pass this bill for our citizens but mean old Manchin/McConnell is standing in our way!”
Americans blame the “bad guy,” not knowing it’s all been worked out ahead of time by party leaders. That way, Democrats in more liberal regions can go on record supporting popular issues while simultaneously keeping donors happy by never passing them. For taking on this responsibility, Manchin will be rewarded with a weak challenger in 2026.
For now, the Biden administration uses the Senator’s resistance to all meaningful stimulus proposals to justify compromising.
They floated lowering the checks even further to $1000 or less, but Americans reacted with outrage. So, the President came out and said, “I can’t go lower than $1400; I made a promise,” (ignoring the fact that lies reduced it to $1400 in the first place).
They decided to means-test the bill, narrowing the range of eligibility instead.
$1400 to Fewer People
Last week, TIME published an article titled, “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.”
It was all about a group of powerful liberal figures – from a wide variety of influential industries — worked behind the scenes to ensure Joe Biden won the election. The piece framed the arrangement as a good thing for the American people.
This section highlights how these powerbrokers manufacture consent around topics like direct cash payments.
Remember when Donald Trump tried to push for $2,000 checks in December?
When the idea was first raised, Larry Summers — former treasury secretary, head of the National Economic Council, and architect of the Obama administration’s abysmal handling of the 2008 financial crisis – immediately went on Bloomberg TV to say: “I don’t think the $2,000 checks make much sense.”
Summers added, “I’m not even sure I’m so enthusiastic about the $600 checks, and I think taking them to $2,000 would actually be a pretty serious mistake that would risk a temporary overheat.”
Right… we wouldn’t want to “overheat” the economy by helping people survive through pandemic lockdowns and double-digit unemployment.
As pressure rose for the Biden administration to make good on their promise of $2,000 checks, establishment officials like Summers, DC think tanks, and the media machine kicked into high gear to convince the American people survival checks are a bad thing.
Insert Jeff Bezo’s Washington Post, which ran a story headlined: “Cutting off stimulus checks to Americans earning over $75,000 could be wise, new data suggests.” (December’s piece, “Why increasing the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 is a bad idea,” didn’t work, so they’ll settle for cutting the number of recipients.)
In previous COVID-inspired stimulus bills, individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning $150,000 received full direct payments. The Washington Post report was based on a study conducted by Opportunity Insights, described by the paper as “a nonprofit research organization.”
Opportunity Insights feared that money given to people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would not make its way back into the economy through consumer spending.
“Data indicates most people who did not need the money right away are saving the stimulus payments or using them to pay off student loan, credit card or mortgage debt,” the paper concludes, apparently under the impression that relieving debt burdens is something other than a “need.”
So, who was behind this “nonprofit research organization” recommending means testing that would deny checks to another 27% of American households?
I’ll let David Sirota at The Daily Poster tell you:
“Opportunity Insights was launched at Harvard University in 2018 with the backing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s family foundation, which disclosed it would give $15 million to Harvard for the creation of the Opportunity Insights Institute. The organization’s website says its partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Its advisory board features former Barack Obama strategist David Plouffe, who advises Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, and New York Times columnist David Leonhardt.”
Nothing to see here! Just a bunch of billionaires funding a think-tank to tell workers making between $50,000 and $75,000 that they’re too rich to need assistance!
Every elite media outlet boosted Opportunity Insights’ analysis.
After op-eds repeated the “findings” in Bloomberg, the Washington Post, CBS News, Fox Business, CNBC, and Forbes, and cable news segments on MSNBC, the study became “fact.”
In response, Republican Senators made a COVID relief counteroffer proposing $1000 checks that start phasing out at $40,000 for individuals, $80,000 for couples.
And guess who said he was willing to negotiate? President Joe Biden.
Like clockwork, in early February, the Washington Post reported that “the White House is open to narrowing eligibility for the next round of stimulus payments,” to begin phasing out individuals making more than $50,000 or married couples making more than $100,000 – which will exclude another $40 million people.
Even worse, Opportunity Insights’ research was deeply flawed.
“The study is supposed to show that higher-income households didn’t experience much of a spending boost from previous stimulus checks. But the study extrapolates household income from zip code–level income data that is at least a couple of years old, David Dayen at the American Prospect reported on Monday.
“There are two problems with this, Dayen wrote: the income data that the study uses predates the pandemic, and using zip code–level income data doesn’t capture household income very well anyway because within zip codes there is a wide range of household incomes.
“Moreover, former Federal Reserve and National Economic Council economist Claudia Sahm said Monday that the study, which is not peer-reviewed, contradicts the majority of peer-reviewed studies on the topic.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters that she supports a $60,000 income threshold for individuals to qualify for stimulus checks.
When asked of Biden’s promise of “$2,000 checks immediately,” here’s what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:
“Well, the President proposed the $1,400 checks to make — plus $600 is, of course, $2,000 — because he was — felt it was important and vital to get that direct relief to as many Americans as possible and target that relief to the Americans who need help the most. And that’s how his original plan and proposal was designed.
“He’s also said, and I’ve said many times from here, that the final plan will look different from what the plan he proposed in his joint session address. It’s still working its way through Congress, and I don’t think a conclusion has been made yet on the exact level of targeting. And when it does, we’re happy to have a conversation about that.”
Does that sound like a person whose boss is going to follow through on their promise?
Smelling blood in the water, Republicans in the Senate have been casting doubt on the efficacy of direct cash payments once again.
When GOP Senator Rob Portman penned an op-ed titled “Wrong Stimulus, Wrong Time” this week, whose economic expertise did he cite?
$15 Minimum Wage
Biden’s other pledge to progressives upon winning the Democratic primaries was raising the minimum wage to $15.
Now, the President admits that he won’t be delivering the policy he explicitly promised Bernie Sanders when the Vermont Senator agreed to concede and endorse his more conservative primary opponent.
To raise the minimum wage to $15 as promised, Biden needed to include the provision in the COVID-19 relief bill, which will be passed via “budget reconciliation.”
“I put it in, but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden told Norah O’Donnell in his first network interview since taking office.
The President, said he was prepared “on a separate negotiation on minimum wage, to work my way up.”
That’s a lie.
In Washington DC, you either pass these massive bills with everything included or nothing. Conservatives in Congress are never going to pass a standalone minimum wage measure.
“No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage, and if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage,” Biden told “CBS Evening News.”
Indeed, you are. And those people who never saw their wage increase and received a smaller stimulus check than expected are going to remember who let them down next election.
Looking Ahead to 2022 and 2024
I only had space to cover two of Joe Biden’s more glaring failures to deliver on his campaign promises, but the $2,000 checks and $15 minimum wage are just the tip of the iceberg.
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the President to eliminate student debt, Biden is considering a provision that “calls for the federal government to pay off up to $10,000 in private, nonfederal student loans for ‘economically distressed’ borrowers.”
Remember when Joe repeatedly touted his plan to improve the Affordable Care Act by offering a public option?
That’s gone too!
Instead, he allowed healthcare lobbyists to write their own proposals. The President’s plan will subsidize buying coverage through ACA marketplaces, funneling more money to private health insurers for expensive plans with high deductibles and higher rates of denied claims.
It’s a similar story for every topic – even his recent flurry of executive orders is misleading.
Biden was supposedly reversing all of Donald Trump’s controversial immigration laws. Well, it turns out some of the cruelest policies survived.
“One is the public charge rule, essentially a wealth test for permanent residency. A particularly cruel one is the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico” program, which has already sent (and is still sending) more than one thousand asylum seekers to be tortured, raped, abducted, or killed in Mexico while they wait to be processed, and which Biden had pledged to eliminate on “day one.” It has been misleadingly reported that Biden is beginning to end the program, when he has merely stopped new enrollments into it.
“Left out entirely from Biden’s orders is Trump’s Title 42 public health order, denounced as the height of white supremacy under the former President, allowing border agents to summarily expel migrants who turn up at the border without any due process or possibility of asylum. Just last week, 140 Haitians were dropped in Mexico under the policy. Taken together, keeping this and MPP in place, while also blocking any more enrollments in the latter, in practice seals the Southern border off to migrants and asylum seekers more completely than even Trump had done, even if it is temporary.”
When it comes to specific policies, Joe Biden’s broken promises and outright lies probably won’t affect him much.
The general public relies on the news media to keep them informed about politics; they’re going to continue covering the President as if he’s the beacon of integrity, here to undo all the damage wrought by Donald Trump.
However, voters will feel his impact in their wallets.
They’re getting neither.
Biden is negotiating away and means-testing-to-death extremely popular policies at the behest of the same economists who flubbed the 2008 economic recovery plan.
Obama got away with austerity measures and blaming Republicans for his inaction, but the American people have lived through a “great recession” now. They’ll be less patient with the current administration.
This is why I am fading Democratic candidates for the foreseeable future.
A red wave is coming, starting in 2022 – start building your bankrolls; there’s going to be lots of money to be made!