Jacobin - December 22, 2020

If there is any consistent through line in Joe Biden’s long career, it is his commitment to the ideology of austerity.

He has obsessively pushed for Social Security cuts for decades, and he is stocking his administration with deficit hawks — including today’s announcement that notorious Social Security cutter Bruce Reed will be White House deputy chief of staff. Biden has even threatened to veto Medicare for All legislation on the grounds that it costs too much (even though Congress says it would actually save a lot of money).

Now, in the whittling down of the stimulus legislation, we see the first concrete example of how Biden’s ideology can change policy in deeply destructive ways.

As pain and suffering is crescendoing {sp} across the country, Biden refrained from aggressively pushing the bipartisan initiative for $1,200 survival checks. Indeed, at a time when there was a legitimate chance to flip some Republicans against McConnell and push for a more robust stimulus, he demurred.

However, the New York Times reminds us today that Biden was “not an idle bystander in the negotiations.” On the contrary, the paper of record tells us that the president-elect played a decisive role in making sure the legislation was cut in half. Here is the key excerpt:

With Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate far apart on how much they were willing to accept in new pandemic spending, Mr. Biden on Dec. 2 threw his support behind the $900 billion plan being pushed by the centrist group. The total was less than half of the $2 trillion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, had been insisting on.

Mr. Biden’s move was not without risks. If it had failed to affect the discussions, the president-elect risked looking powerless to move Congress before he had taken the oath of office. But members of both parties said his intervention was constructive and gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands.

Read that again, just so it sinks in: Biden endorsing an initiative to slash the stimulus bill in half “gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands” for a much more robust rescue package at a time when America faces rising food insecurity and poverty. His enthusiastic lauding of the final bill underscores the role he played.

“In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for action and compromise,” Biden said in a statement. “I am heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. This is a model for the challenging work ahead for our nation.”

That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future. ...
Read full report at Jacobin