Joe Biden’s entry into the presidential race was as predictable as the pundit hackery unleashed upon us after his announcement: Good Old Joe. Son of Scranton. A man who takes the train. A man who understands the working man. A guy who can work across the aisle.
Unfortunately, this isn’t what the country needs right now. Someone correctly pegged Joe as a “1970s Republican.” Which is no surprise, as he was the VP for someone who was a 1950s’ Republican, Barack Obama. Oh, the nutcases and the shouters won’t believe it. But for anyone who knows the arc of post World War II political theology from Truman to the present day, Obama wasn’t exactly a New Dealer.
And for a lot of people on what is now considered the progressive side of the Democratic Party, he was something of a disappointment. And that carried over into Hillary Clinton’s desirability as a candidate. That cohort of voters didn’t want another corporatist who simply tipped her hat to their concerns while the economy had stopped working for half of the population.
Within hours of his announcement, Good Old Joe attended a fund-raiser hosted by Comcast Corporation’s chief lobbyist, David Cohen. It’s not a good look taking money from someone who sees the FCC as a wholly owned subsidiary. At least for a real Democrat. And it’s precisely why Good Old Joe, no matter how electable people think he is, is a pretty stale choice as a candidate. Unfortunately, we have too many Democrats who would rather lose to the right than win from the left. Some of them write columns for this newspaper. Others hold office in Congress.
Here’s the dilemma: Pick a centrist who ostensibly has broad appeal, and the country remains stuck in neutral. That sets us up for another demagogue. This is no time for a safe choice. It’s a time for a transformative one. And that transformation involves nothing less than obliterating the current tax structure and the for-profit health-care industry. That includes the non-profits whose CEOs make eight-figure salaries and use donor funds to pay someone to give them an ethics award.
For the first time in 50 years, individual income taxes make up more than half of federal revenue, thanks to a $1.5 trillion giveaway to corporations that were already making record profits while Obama was still in office. The rubes really believe the United States had a 35 percent corporate tax rate. The Bush era tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 had already made the calculus lopsided. All three sets of tax reform have to be reversed in order to regain the equilibrium working Americans once knew. And if we don’t, this is going to be one unhappy country.
In healthcare, prices remain unchecked without market constraints. In the absence of those, we’ll simply legislate them into existence. Americans are so paper trained by their healthcare regime, they don’t even realize the term “pre-existing condition” doesn’t exist in any other country. The free market insurance companies simply mandated it, and if you were diabetic, tough luck, and better still, you need to starve to pay for a medicine that was invented in 1921, whose price has been allowed to triple since 2001.
Aside from that willful blindness, why does anyone entertain the idea that a monster like Sen. Mitch McConnell can be worked] with, after he choked off the economic recovery to spite Obama and despoiled the Supreme Court? The man has broken the U.S. Senate as an institution. You would think Good Old Joe would have at least had a bitter taste in his mouth after six years of this treatment. He seems blissfully unaware of how completely binary our politics are.
There is no room for compromise, there is only room for total victory in all three branches of government to undue the damage. And while other candidates are spelling out hard policy, Good Old Joe isn’t saying exactly where he stands on anything.
The Democrats are at a built-in disadvantage, and not just by the distortion created by the Electoral College: 51 senators represent only 18 percent of the population, and if trends hold, half of us will be living in eight states, while the other 42 holds the other half. People are openly talking about abolishing the Senate.
We have hard decisions to make. We need a candidate who will make them.