(As of August 2019, I’ve given up on keeping this article current because Joe Biden does awful and stupid things multiple times a day)
One bit of rhetoric Democrats have inserted into the 2020 cycle is that it’s wrong to judge a candidate on their past. Things were different then, and you can’t judge a person on decisions they made without the benefit of hindsight. People can change.
Many candidates never changed, and have no interest in changing. This rhetoric, Democrats hope, can be used to erase the past of their most corrupt- people who never regretted their past or changed for the better. People like Joe Biden.
Biden’s record is atrocious. As a senator, he had a clear role in the corrupt political apparatus: selling Democrats on right-wing policy under the guise of “compromise” and “bipartisanship”. Biden was very effective at it, often turning Democrats in favor of Republican legislation and even introducing his own horrifying right-wing bills. And Biden still stands by most of his record, refusing to acknowledge that the harm these bills did far outweighed any benefit.
Biden was senator from 1973 to 2009, and then Vice President to Barack Obama for eight years. During this time, Biden seemingly had a hand in virtually every measure that screwed over the working class, or non-whites, or people from other countries. His loyalty to the banks and credit card companies is as consistent as his utter disregard of the millions whose lives he is directly responsible for ruining.
He has a scarce few good things to his name- like the Violence Against Women Act. He sensed the way the winds were blowing regarding gay marriage early on, but not before voting in favor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. And he has cast the occasional vote for something not completely terrible.
However, if he were to become president, it’s very unlikely any progress would be made regarding even the (few) things he has a passable record on. The common thread between many of these “good” things is that they were very low-risk positions for Biden to take. He was able to use them to improve his image without compromising his relationship to his big business donors, to whom he is ultimately accountable.
Instead, he would continue what he’s done for his entire career- screw over everyone else for his own political and financial gain.
Among many, Biden still maintains his image as a kind of cool, relatable guy who was Obama’s VP, and also a bit of “a well-meaning klutz who is predictable, friendly, and ultimately electable”. This image is a complete fabrication. A writer for The Onion even apologized for the comedy website’s inaccurate portrayal of Creepy Uncle Joe.
Biden is counting on voters remembering that image, but not remembering his sordid record. Here’s his record.
Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas
One of the better known black marks on Biden’s jet-black record is the Clarence Thomas hearings, on which he served as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. Before Anita Hill entered the picture, Biden was already neglecting his responsibilities:
As Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson report in Strange Justice, their book about the Thomas nomination battle, Biden’s questions were “sometimes so long and convoluted that Thomas would forget what the question was.” Biden prided himself on his legal scholarship, Mayer and Abramson suggest, and thus his questions were often designed “to show off [his] legal acumen rather than to elicit answers.”
Biden had promised a republican colleague that “he’d make sure Thomas’s confirmation was speedy”, and he kept his word- he deliberately set up the hearings to ensure Thomas was confirmed.
When Anita Hill came forward with accusations of repeated sexual harassment from Thomas, Biden was reluctant to allow her to testify at all. When she did testify, she was subject to disrespect and abuse from the republicans, which Biden did nothing to prevent. Biden allowed Hill to be aggressively questioned by the 14 white men who made up the Judiciary Committee, and he refused to allow any of the three other women who could testify against Thomas to speak.
In one instance, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter appeared to argue that inappropriate comments Thomas made to Hill about women’s “breasts” were commonplace, while in another Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suggested that she made up allegations based on prose featured in the book The Exorcist.
While every lawmaker on the committee had his own dedicated time to ask questions, Hill supporters noted that Biden was the one overseeing all of the proceedings and could have used his authority to step in. “The Republicans metaphorically stoned Anita Hill, while the Democrats, Biden being the gatekeeper, let it happen,” Angela Wright Shannon, an EEOC employee who also raised allegations against Thomas, told Roll Call.
But Biden was far more concerned with his own career- perhaps a poor strategy on his part, because the incident has resurfaced in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, and Biden’s own campaign for the presidency.
As Mayer and Abramson write, “Hill’s reputation was not foremost among the committee’s worries. The Democrats in general, and Biden in particular, appear to have been far more concerned with their own reputations,” and feared a Republican-stoked public backlash if they aired more details of Thomas’s sexual proclivities. Hill was therefore thrown to the wolves, and America was saddled with a Supreme Court justice of limited legal qualifications and extreme right-wing views (which he had taken pains to deny while under oath).
Biden, of course, would later lie through his teeth about the incident.
In an interview with Teen Vogue, Biden said that he believed Hill at the time. “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. I mean, they really went after her,” he said. “As much as I tried to intervene, I did not have the power to gavel them out of order. I tried to be like a judge and only allow a question that would be relevant to ask.”
“I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill,” he continued. “I owe her an apology.”
Later, he would privately complain that it was “unfair” for him to be scrutinized over the hearings, or for Hill to blame him for her treatment. Biden said he owed her an apology, but never gave one, instead offering only non-apologies. When one of the hosts on ABC’s The View prompted him to apologize, Biden expressed no regret, “I’m sorry for the way she got treated,” he said. “If you go back to what I said, and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”
Biden had, in fact, treated her very badly.
“It’s become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we’re not expecting company,” Hill said. “’Oh,’ we say, ‘is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?’”
Thomas was confirmed by narrow margins. Had Biden acted differently, he would not have been.
One wonders if Biden saw a kindred spirit in Clarence Thomas. Biden’s own history of sexual harassment is very well documented.
There’s not much to say with regards to his uh, habits. Biden gets close to a woman (or young girl), Biden inappropriately touches said woman (or young girl), and his unfortunate victim is left feeling disgusted and violated. This rather creepy behavior has earned him the nickname “Creepy Uncle Joe”. It has happened many, many times and will inevitably continue to happen until Creepy Uncle Joe is either legally or physically incapable of doing it any longer.
- An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden
- 9 Times Joe Biden Creepily Whispered in Women’s Ears
- Joe Biden, We Need to Talk About the Way You Touch Women
- America Shouldn’t Tolerate ‘Biden Being Biden’
- Joe Biden Is Running Out of Pickup Lines
Many more sources can be found via a quick google search, but I would be here all day if I tried to list all of them.
He is a creep, is what I’m getting at.
Biden is aware of his reputation and has even joked about it. In 1993, he had Alexandra Tara Reade fired and blacklisted for complaining about his sexual harassment. And during his 2020 run, his office had the gall to blame Bernie Sanders for supposedly engineering the torrent of accusations against Biden.
Wading into this debate will be Joe Biden, who has what can generously be described as a mixed record on abortion rights. While he has, like many pro-life Democrats, “evolved” on the issue over time, what sets Biden apart is that even this evolution has carried him only to what he himself describes as a moderate position on the issue.
“I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion.”, Biden said, regarding Roe v. Wade. “I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
In 1977, Biden fought and defeated an amendment that would have removed all restrictions on federal funding of abortions. In fact, he voted to disallow federal funding of abortions in cases of rape or incest (which had been exceptions to the funding restrictions). The Philadelphia Inquirer deemed it “the toughest ever anti-abortion measure.”
Four years later, Biden successfully proposed and passed an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which barred US aid from funding research related to abortions. The amendment, nicknamed the “Biden amendment”, remains in place to this day.
In 1982, Biden repeatedly voted for an amendment to bar all federal funding for abortion, including training and research. The next year, he was one of only two democrats on the Senate Judiciary to vote for the Hatch amendment, which in practice would have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. He changed his position on the Hatch amendment the following year, but went on to vote five times to prevent the Federal Employees Health Benefits program from funding abortions for federal employees, a measure which successfully became law and effectively made abortions inaccessible to the poor.
Biden praised Reagan’s anti-abortion policy. He voted for the Hyde amendment (which banned federal funding for abortions), and to extend said amendment to prisons. Worse yet, he supported the Global Gag Rule, which restricted foreign assistance for organizations that provided abortion services.
The GGR prohibits global health assistance from being provided to fNGOs that use funding from any source to: perform abortions in cases other than rape, incest or life endangerment; counsel or referral women for abortion; or lobby in any abortion related advocacy, including to make abortion legal, in their own country.
The GGR was later expanded to apply to all abortions, including cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. It was rescinded by Clinton, reinstated by Bush, rescinded by Obama, and then once again reinstated by Trump in 2017.
In 1988, Biden voted against exceptions to the Hyde amendment in cases of rape or incest.
It’s no wonder, then, that a Planned Parenthood official complained to the Wall Street Journal in 1986 that Biden “usually votes against us,” adding that it was “difficult to know whether this issue is purely personal, purely political, or a combination of both with him.”
Since the mid-90s, Biden’s position on abortion rights advanced to “officially” pro-choice, but his actual support is tepid at best. Biden voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 1995, and repeatedly refused to vote for the Freedom of Choice Act.
“I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion.”, Biden wrote in 2007.
Joe Biden’s White Supremacist Allies
Beginning in the 80s, Biden considered the infamous white supremacist senator Strom Thurmond one of his “closest friends”. Thurmond was known for his unwavering support of segregation and efforts to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He had mounted a last stand against the bill by carrying out a 24 hour filibuster to prevent it from passing. Regarding segregation, Thurmond once said “There’s not enough troops in the army, to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”
Biden said the Washington press would refer to him and Thurmond as the “marvelous marriage” and “the odd couple” and would often ask them how they got along.
Biden speaks of Thurmond as someone he opposed ideologically but held a deep respect for. While they did butt heads every so often, Biden had also worked together with Thurmond on several proposals, which “raised maximum penalties, removed a directive requiring the US Sentencing Commission to take into account prison capacity, and created the cabinet-level “drug czar” position.” The duo also passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which “among other things, abolished parole, imposed a less generous cap on “good time” sentence reductions, and allowed the Sentencing Commission to issue more punitive guidelines.” It also expanded civil asset forfeiture. A similar bill, called the Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991, was sponsored by Biden.
The pair was close enough that Thurmond requested Biden deliver his eulogy, which he did when Thurmond died in 2003. Biden was one of the only democrats present at the event, and had nothing but praise for the dead racist. He claimed that Thurmond regretted his racist past and “moved to the good side”- which was a lie.
In many ways, Biden’s friendship with Thurmond exemplifies his values. First, that conflicts stem from superficial differences rather than fundamental disagreements. Second, that a person’s history should be forgotten, even if they haven’t changed. Third, that the best democrat is someone who is essentially a republican. And fourth, racism.
Thurmond urged Biden to run for president. “Strom told me, he said, ‘Joe, if there has to be a Democrat as president, I hope it won’t happen,’ he said, ‘It might as well be you.’”, Biden recalled. Evidently, he took Thurmond’s advice to heart.
“You’ve got a good 30 years left to try.”, Thurmond said in December of 1988, 30 years and four months before Biden announced his 2020 run. One hopes that his time has run out.
Thurmond wasn’t Biden’s only ultra-racist associate- he also considered Jesse Helms a close friend of his, and often worked together with him. He praised segregationist and longtime civil rights opponent John Stannis, calling Stannis a mentor figure and “a legend”.
Biden had a strong relationship with segregationist James Eastland, a man who once claimed that whites were entitled to “the pursuit of dead n*ggers." In June 2019, Biden came under fire for his praise of Eastland. His response was to double down.
He also came under fire for calling Mike Pence a “decent guy”. Certainly Biden’s compliment to Pence wasn’t meant as an endorsement; rather, Biden believes in the appearance of civility towards his fellow congressmen. Not long ago this was perhaps seen as an admirable trait. Nowadays, it’s easier for us to see the monster behind the smokescreen of politeness.
Biden’s smokescreen is just more opaque than Pence’s.
The Drug War and Police Militarization
In the 80s and 90s, Biden set out to prove that democrats weren’t “soft on crime” by working with republicans to pass monstrous tough-on-crime legislation and criticizing the republicans for not going far enough in their already extremely harsh bills.
By the 1980s, Biden had begun to see political gold in the harsh antidrug legislation that had been pioneered by drug warriors such as Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon, and would ultimately lead to the age of mass incarceration for black Americans. One of his Senate staffers at the time recalls him remarking, “Whenever people hear the words ‘drugs’ and ‘crime,’ I want them to think ‘Joe Biden.’” Insisting on anonymity, this former staffer recollected how Biden’s team “had to think up excuses for new hearings on drugs and crime every week — any connection, no matter how remote. He wanted cops at every public meeting — you’d have thought he was running for chief of police.”
Biden had also sponsored the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the 1988 Omnibus Drug Bill, which included more of the same notoriously harsh and racist policies- massively expanding sentencing for drug-related crimes. The former included the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity:
There were many examples of inherent and undisguised discrimination. Take the crack vs. powder cocaine debacle that helped grow that prison pipeline. Dope is dope, all of it needs to be taken off the streets, right? But crack cocaine, mostly peddled in minority communities, was deemed far more dangerous. The federal 100-to-1 ratio mandates a 10-year sentence for anyone caught with 50 grams of crack. To get a comparable sentence, a dealer selling powdered cocaine would have to be caught with 5,000 grams. So white dealers with more access to powdered cocaine continued to pour it into communities of color, who cooked it into crack. Guess who took the most heat under the law? Makes you wonder if this law wasn’t specifically intended for people of color.
Also in 1986, Biden introduced the Comprehensive Narcotics Control Act. The Act imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, and increased several other penalties. It expanded the authority of the Justice Department in drug-related cases, and authorized appropriations for the U.S. Department of Defense for “enhanced drug enforcement assistance”. It required the military to list defense facilities to be used to detain prisoners. It also set aside money for “herbicides for use in aerial eradication of coca.” It did not pass.
In 1989 came the Federal Crime Control Act, also introduced by Biden. The bill expanded civil asset forfeiture, mandated that anyone charged with certain drug crimes not be released on bail, and authorized areas designated “drug disaster areas” to receive grants of up to $50 million to aid law enforcement. It too failed to pass.
Biden boasted about his record, going as far as to criticize George H. W. Bush for not sentencing more drug dealers to life in prison or death. Not only that, but he took credit for civil asset forfeiture- which recently has been responsible for law enforcement stealing more money from Americans than burglars. “The government can take everything you own, from your car to your house to your bank account!”, Biden boasted.
In 1989, George H.W. Bush escalated the drug war by calling for “more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors”, as well as harsher punishments for drug offenders and billions to drug-related law enforcement. Biden criticized the plan- because he felt Bush hadn’t gone far enough. “In a nutshell,” he wrote, “the President’s plan does not include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, enough prosecutors to convict them, enough judges to sentence them, or enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”
Biden proposed an alternate version of the bill, similar except for the fact that it was $4 billion larger. Biden’s bill also would have increased aid to police from $350 million (under Bush’s bill) to $600 million, and increased the number of new FBI agents from 300 (under Bush’s bill) to 1000.
Biden’s bill had some improvements over Bush’s- it provided more money for treatment and didn’t extend the death penalty, for instance. All of that was discarded when the Senate’s version of the bill passed, which Biden defended, claiming criticisms of the vastly expanded death penalty were “overblown”.
A year later, however, with Bush’s approval ratings getting a bump from the Gulf War, Biden revived these measures, which also included increasing mandatory minimums, limiting the number of appeals for prisoners, and allowing the use of illegally obtained evidence in court as long as police were acting in “good faith” when they broke the law. Biden assured the president that he and the Democrats were “ready right now” to pass all of it if Bush just dropped his opposition to the gun control provisions they wanted to pass in tandem.
Again, Biden produced a harsher version of Bush’s bill, this time bragging that it extended the death penalty even further than Bush had (extending it to drug dealers, among other things). “We do everything but hang people for jaywalking.”, he boasted. Biden was labeled the bill’s “architect” and “shepherded [the bill] to passage”, despite strong opposition from the ACLU, NAACP, and other civil rights groups.
In the National Drug Control Strategy Act, Biden’s intent to militarize the drug war was even more overt. It included “military-style boot camp prisons” for people convicted of drug-related crimes. It authorized “appropriations under the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act” to train military law enforcement. It even “provided resources” for television programs and movies to be used as anti-drug propaganda. Again, this bill was unsuccessful.
It is hard to name an infamously unjust feature of America’s criminal-justice system that Joe Biden didn’t help to bring about. Mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, civil asset forfeiture, and extensive use of the death penalty — the Delaware senator was involved in establishing them all.
In 1996, Biden voted for Bob Dole’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, reducing the rates of state court reversals of death penalty decisions by 40%.
In 1981, Biden voted for the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act, which did everything its name implied, contributing to the increasing militarization of the police. And that was far from Biden’s only effort to militarize the police:
When it wasn’t drugs, Biden used terrorism as a justification to militarize law enforcement. He inserted a provision into the Patriot Act that allowed state and local departments to apply to get equipment needed to combat terrorism. This was beside the extraordinary surveillance powers the law granted to police, which they now casually use for drug and immigration cases.
When Bush floated a review of the centuries-old law against the domestic use of the military in 2002 — about the same time he had considered sending troops into suburban Buffalo to arrest a group of suspected terrorists — Biden supported it, saying: “I think it is time to revisit it.”
Then there was the Byrne grant program, which was authorized under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act Biden had voted for in 1988. Like COPS, the Bush administration phased it out, but Biden and Obama revived and revised the program, renaming it the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG). It should go without saying that the bill did nothing good, but did further militarize the police while at the same time making them less accountable.
Because they tend to be multijurisdictional, no sheriff or police chief oversees the investigations of Byrne task forces. They are “effectively accountable to no one, least of all the communities they purportedly aim to serve and protect,” says Graham Boyd, director of the Drug Law Reform Project for the ACLU, which has documented abuses by Byrne-funded task forces all over the country.
In Texas, Byrne-sponsored task forces created so many problems that much of the state has stopped participating in the program. A Byrne-funded operation was in charge of the 1999 debacle in Tulia, Texas, in which 46 people were arrested based on the word of a lying undercover police officer, Tom Coleman. Most of the 46 were later released and shared in a $6 million settlement. The next year, another Byrne task force arrested 28 people in Hearne, Texas, based solely on the word of a police informant who also proved to be a liar.
Because Byrne grants are given out primarily on raw arrest statistics, they also distort the way drug investigations are handled. Take the use of drug informants. Typically, police arrest a low-level drug offender, then try to make a deal with him to give up his supplier. They then continue their way up the ladder as far into the operation as they can go. But when funding for a task force depends on the number of arrests it makes, the incentive is instead to go down the ladder. A midlevel distributor may supply dozens of lower-level dealers, who boost the arrest numbers. Investigators thus have a reason to cut deals with bigger players in exchange for giving up the street dealers they supply.
Biden also introduced the 2002 Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act (RAVE), and sponsored the very similar Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act. The bills held concert promoters responsible if drugs use was discovered at their events. Among other things, it also labeled labeled bottled water, “chill rooms”, and glow sticks as “drug paraphernalia”, preventing on-site harm reduction at concerts and leading to at least one death. Predictably, the bills only made things worse. The DEA abused the bills (or rather, used them as intended).
In 2008, Biden put forth a request for an additional $450,000 for DARE, in a time when the effectiveness of the program was in question. Perhaps this was part of his continuing drug war effort, or perhaps it had to do with how DARE lobbyist Scott Green had previously worked under Biden, and in 2007, donated $2,300 to him.
Biden, obviously, opposed marijuana decriminalization (including for medicinal purposes) for his entire career. Regarding the 2020 race, leader of pro-legalization group NORML said “If this is an issue that you care about, there couldn’t be a worse candidate to support at this moment than Joe Biden.” Biden changed his tune, however, when he met with pro-legalization mega-donor John Morgan in May of 2019. Still, he stopped short of endorsing full legalization.
As VP, Biden “served as the Obama administration’s unofficial liaison to the law enforcement community”.
Biden has never recanted his position on capital punishment, making him one of the few contenders for 2020 who does not oppose it.
The 1994 Biden Crime Bill
Biden got his wish to make democrats the “tough on crime” party in 1994, with the infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Biden had been head of the committee responsible for its release.
The bill is significantly responsible for the epidemic of mass incarceration in the United States that continues to this day, which experts had predicted before it was passed. In fact, the bill incentivized states to arrest more and lengthen sentences. Billions were allocated for the construction of new prisons, which were quickly filled to the brim with prisoners.
What the states didn’t misinterpret was the more than $8 billion the law allotted to them to encourage building more prisons and/or to change existing prisons to accommodate more “clients.” It created a virtual feeding frenzy for the cash, and helped contribute to a rapid rise and expansion of a whole new prison industrial complex, including oppressive privatized prisons.
The crime bill also:
- Created no less than sixty new death penalty offenses.
- Eliminated inmates’ access to higher education.
- Established the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), touched on later in this section.
- Introduced heavy restrictions on parole.
- Expanded three-strikes laws, which require mandatory life sentences for criminals with three or more convictions if one of the convictions was severe enough.
- Introduced the Truth in Sentencing clause, preventing many cases of early release.
- Authorized “boot camps” for juvenile offenders.
- Mandated drug testing for all serving on federal supervised release.
- Increased mandatory minimum sentences.
- Provided $160 million for “criminal alien detention and processing centers”, and $675 million towards hiring more border patrol personnel.
Biden was proud of the bill. “I hope to God that Bush attacks us on crime. I think we would eat them alive.”, remarked Biden before the 2000 election, satisfied that he’d finally passed a crime bill that was harsh enough for his liking.
The martial/incarceral state has had no greater friend in Washington over the last 35 years than Joe Biden.
While Clinton eventually acknowledged that the bill was a mistake, Biden still takes pride in the bill to this day, calling himself “the guy who did the crime bill” and referring to it as the “1994 Biden Crime Bill.” In 2016, he claimed the bill had “restored American cities.” In May of 2019, he defended the bill yet again.
“Many of us who grew up in the black community in the ’90s,” said Patrisse Cullors, a political organizer and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, “we witnessed the wave in which the policies that came from both federal government but also local government tore our families apart.”
“I think that any person coming to office who was really a part of that is going to have to deal with a large amount of criticism from those who were affected by this policy,” she said.
Today, there are 2.2 million people imprisoned in the United States, twice as many as there were before the bill. The crime bill was nothing less than an atrocity, one that ruined millions of lives. The fact that Biden was responsible for its passing and continues to defend it should be damning. Alas, this is America, where destroying the lives of countless people may as well be a qualification to hold public office.
Tough-on-crime laws weren’t just part of [Biden’s] political career. In many ways, they were central to that career — his most substantive impact on American life. Backing away from them is no easy feat. It’s as if Warren were to call for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be abolished, or if Al Gore renounced a carbon tax.
Biden was a major proponent of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which was established in the crime bill and authorized to hire 100,000 new officers. COPS was a failure at community policing, but certainly a success at locking people up for minor drug offenses, which is what its backers actually wanted. COPS has spent $30 billion in assistance to law enforcement since 1994. It, too, was a major contributing factor to police militarization.
The main problem with federal block grants is that once they’re issued, Congress can’t monitor them to be sure they’re spent properly. And that’s certainly true of COPS. A 2000 report by the Madison Times, for example, found that COPS grants, along with a federal program through which local police departments obtain surplus military equipment from the Pentagon, led to a mass expansion of SWAT teams throughout Wisconsin in the 1990s. SWAT teams popped up in absurdly small communities like Forest County (population 9,950), Mukwonago (7,519), and Rice Lake (8,320).
And not just in Wisconsin. In a survey conducted by criminologist Peter Kraska, two-thirds of responding police chiefs said SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics “play an important role in community policing strategies.”
When the Bush administration largely phased out COPS, Biden tried to revive it in 2005, and again in 2008.
Busing and Desegregation
Few men have done more damage to communities of color in America’s recent history than Biden- his criminal justice record alone can attest to that. But is that all? No, of course there’s more.
Biden notoriously fought tooth and nail against busing students as a means of desegregating schools. He had been in favor when he ran in 1972, but quickly realized how unpopular the issue was among his white constituents. Biden reversed his position after his election, becoming a leading anti-busing crusader. So hated was busing among whites that angry mobs attacked buses with black children inside.
Jesse Helms welcomed Biden “to the ranks of the enlightened.” In fact, Biden had rallied the senate’s most vocal segregationists to his cause. He even made the outrageous claim that desegregation of schools was racist.
Biden called busing “the atom bomb of anti-discrimination weapons,” and worked to stop busing in his home state, calling it “the single most devastating issue that could occur to Delaware.” In 1975, he put forward an anti-busing provision that barred the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from using federal funds “to assign students or teachers by race,” broad language that actually barred the department from taking anti-segregation actions beyond just busing.
The amendment was meant to be a “softer” alternative to one put forward by hall-of-fame racist and Biden friend Jesse Helms, a version Biden had actually initially supported. Still, the New York Times at the time charged that Biden’s supposedly more moderate alternative would “signal a major crumbling of federal determination to achieve equal justice,” and called it “a real threat not only to the gains of the sixties, but to decency in this society.” The Washington Post was equally disapproving.
Biden also pushed to bar the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from requiring schools to provide information on the racial makeup of their students- making it near impossible to force them to integrate.
The New York Times wrote:
The principal tragedy of the Biden amendment, should it survive, is that it would signal a major crumbling of Federal determination to achieve equal justice. It has been demonstrated in cities from Little Rock to Pontiac that where there is a clear will to enforce the law, substantial social progress can occur. It is equally clear that where the will is flabby, the nation’s worst instincts come to the fore. The Biden amendment is thus a real threat not only to the gains of the sixties, but to decency in this society. Congress will be advancing the cause of justice by eliminating it from the bill.
In 1976, Biden voted for an amendment that would have prevented the federal government from using funds to promote busing. Later that year, he voted for another amendment that prevented the Health, Education, and Welfare Department from using any funds for busing at all, which “mostly caused the Ford administration to stand down on HEW-promoted integration.”
In 1977, the Carter administration took office and redoubled busing efforts, resulting in more pushback from Biden and his segregationist friends. Biden co-sponsored an amendment to prevent federal courts from ordering widespread busing. That failed, so he and a congressional ally introduced an amendment which “called out and blocked almost every method HEW was using to desegregate schools — including grade reorganization, pairing, and clustering.” It passed, and the administration’s hands were tied in regards to desegregation.
In 1980, Biden repeatedly voted for the segregationist Helms-Collins amendment (co-sponsored by Biden’s racist buddy), an “extreme” bill which would have prevented the federal government from defending busing in court.
“I do not buy the concept, popular in the ’60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race,’ ” Biden told a Delaware-based weekly newspaper in 1975. “I don’t buy that.”
In language that bears on today’s debate about whether descendants of slaves should be compensated, he added, “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
The bill didn’t pass, but Biden and his segregationist allies had already won. Democrats had been turned against any further integration, and it became a politically dangerous position to take. New York Magazine writes “Biden helped kill the most effective policy for improving black educational attainment that America has ever known.”
The NAACP called Biden’s proposal “an anti-black amendment.” The Senate’s sole African-American member, Ed Brooke, called it “the greatest symbolic defeat for civil rights since 1964.” But Biden helped his fellow liberals reconcile themselves to the wrong side of history by recasting integrationists as the real racists.
Today, segregation in schools is worse than any other time after Brown v. Board of Education, and America continues to backslide. And it was Biden who spearheaded the challenges to school integration.
Legal constraints have much to do with this backward momentum. Some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, a series of key Supreme Court decisions have dramatically reduced the number of implementation methods available to communities engaged in school desegregation. They have eliminated strategies such as cross-district busing, dismantled local court supervision of desegregation plans, and limited use of race-based admissions to ensure diversity in magnet-school programs.
On a recent podcast, Biden claimed “I’m going to say something outrageous. I have never, ever, ever voted for anything I thought was wrong… Even when it has cost me dearly at home. In the middle of the single most extensive busing order in all the United States history, in my state, I voted against an amendment, cast the deciding vote, to allow courts to keep busing as a remedy. Because there are some things that are worth losing over.”
Which was, while technically true, very misleading. Biden had led the charge against busing. As late as 2019, he refused to apologize- and according to a spokesman of his, he still stands by his decision.
Biden liked to claim he was a civil rights activist. ‘’When I was 17, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses.” He said. “And my stomach turned upon hearing the voices of Faubus and Wallace. My soul raged on seeing Bull Connor and his dogs.’’
He later admitted he was never an activist- but he had “worked at an all-black swimming pool”.
‘’During the 60’s, I was, in fact, very concerned about the civil rights movement,’’ he said. But at another point he said, ‘’I was not an activist,’’ adding:
‘’I worked at an all-black swimming pool in the east side of Wilmington, Del. I was involved in what they were thinking, what they were feeling. But I was not out marching. I was not down in not out marching. I was not down in Selma. I was not anywhere else. I was a suburbanite kid who got a dose of exposure to what was happening to black Americans.’’
Of course, that didn’t stop him from repeating the lie over and over again:
“When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program,” Mr. Biden thundered, testing his presidential message in February 1987 before a New Hampshire audience. “I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes. And we changed attitudes.”
More than once, advisers had gently reminded Mr. Biden of the problem with this formulation: He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Mr. Biden assured them he understood — and kept telling the story anyway.
In an astoundingly racist 1993 speech, Biden warned of “predators”, three years before Hillary Clinton’s infamous “superpredators” remarks on the same subject. Biden declared that many of “those people” were “beyond the pale”, and “we have no choice but to take them out of society.”
In the speech, Biden described a “cadre of young people, tens of thousands of them, born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing because they literally … because they literally have not been socialized, they literally have not had an opportunity.” He said, “we should focus on them now” because “if we don’t, they will, or a portion of them, will become the predators 15 years from now.”
Biden added that he didn’t care “why someone is a malefactor in society” and that criminals needed to be “away from my mother, your husband, our families.”
But it got worse. Biden’s speech was a right-wing wet dream:
“The consensus is A), we must take back the streets,” Biden said, “It doesn’t matter whether or not the person that is accosting your son or daughter or my son or daughter, my wife, your husband, my mother, your parents, it doesn’t matter whether or not they were deprived as a youth. It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society. The end result is they’re about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons.”
Biden added in his speech that rehabilitation could not be a condition for release or sentencing, because the United States criminal justice system didn’t know how to rehabilitate offenders.
“I’m the guy that said rehabilitation, when it occurs, we don’t understand it and notice it and even when we notice it and we know it occurs, we don’t know why,” he said. “So you cannot make rehabilitation a condition for release.”
The consensus, Biden again said, was the need to make streets safer. With an impassioned plea, Biden said he did not care what led someone to commit crimes.
“I don’t care why someone is a malefactor in society. I don’t care why someone is antisocial. I don’t care why they’ve become a sociopath,” Biden said. “We have an obligation to cordon them off from the rest of society, try to help them, try to change the behavior. That’s what we do in this bill. We have drug treatment and we have other treatments to try to deal with it, but they are in jail.”
And of course, no discussion of Biden and racism would be complete without his 2007 remarks:
Explaining why schools in Iowa are performing better than those in Washington, D.C., Biden told the Post, “There’s less than one percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than four of five percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with.”
“When you have children coming from dysfunctional homes, when you have children coming from homes where there’s no books, where the mother from the time they’re born doesn’t talk to them — as opposed to the mother in Iowa who’s sitting out there and talks to them, the kid starts out with a 300 word larger vocabulary at age three. Half this education gap exists before the kid steps foot in the classroom,” the Delaware Democrat added.
This isn’t the first time Biden’s words have caused controversy. Last February, on the same day he officially announced his presidential bid, a newspaper quoted the senator describing Sen. Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
The list goes on:
The former vice president has a long list of excruciating “Bidenisms.” Remember when he asked a state senator in a wheelchair to “stand up … let ’em see ya”? Or when he told a largely African-American audience that Mitt Romney was “going to put y’all back in chains”? Or when he said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent”? I could go on. And on. And on. (And don’t even get me started on the “Creepy Joe Biden” videos …)
In the beginning of his career, Biden’s record on Immigration was rather solid. It wouldn’t last.
In the 90s Biden voted not to repeal the ban on HIV or AIDS-positive immigrants from entering the country. The law was, among other things, keeping 300 HIV-positive Haitian immigrants quarantined in a hellish Guantanamo Bay prison camp. It remained in place for another 17 years.
The same year, he championed Janet Reno, anti-immigration hawk, as attorney general. And later, he voted for the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act:
Biden’s 1995 vote for Bob Dole’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) wasn’t just a broadside against constitutional rights like habeas corpus; it was also one of the principal pieces of restrictionist immigration law whose repeal has, in recent years, become a top goal of activists and critics. Among other things, the law for the first time put into action now-commonplace fast-track deportations and mandatory detention of immigrants convicted of even minor drug crimes, and it expanded the use of indefinite detention for some noncitizens.
A spokesperson for the American Immigration Lawyers Association charged it would let the government “deport the mothers and fathers of innocent kids.” Immigration attorney Dan P. Danilov complained to Northwest Asian Weekly that it let the government use secret evidence to deport alleged terrorists, and that its elimination of judges’ discretion in cases of felonies or crimes of “moral turpitude” meant legal residents with partners and kids could be deported just for writing a bad check.
Biden had reservations about the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), but when his concerns were unaddressed, he voted for it anyway. The act was a disaster. It became much harder for immigrants to legally enter the country and much easier for immigrants- even legal ones- to be deported. It allocated millions for “alien incarceration” and allowed for those arrested to be jailed in their home countries.
And more importantly, it expanded Biden’s babies, the drug war and police militarization, to border security. It allowed local police to be used as border patrol agents (now ICE). Biden’s own crime bill had allocated more resources for the border patrol. And Biden had argued for sending police to the border- which Donald Trump later invoked as president.
“Way back in the 1980s, I was the guy who convinced a lot of my colleagues in the military that the military should get involved in this process, and so in the drug strategy thing,” Biden said at the hearing. He wondered “whether or not we should consider someone other than those Federal agencies that traditionally have the responsibility for protecting our borders short of a literal declaration of war or an invasion in the literal sense, whether or not we should bring anybody else into this battle.” Biden praised a rancher for testifying that his land had “basically been eroded into Mexico” and become “part of a Third World country,” which Biden called “chilling.”
As touched on above, Biden’s crime bill provided $160 million for “criminal alien detention and processing centers”, and $675 million towards hiring more border patrol personnel. The welfare reform bill Biden voted for in 1996 barred immigrants who weren’t legal permanent residents for five years from receiving welfare. As result of the welfare bill combined with the IIRIRA, legal immigrant families received less than 40% of what they once did.
In more recent years, he did not improve:
At the same time, [Biden] also voted to increase fencing and improve vehicle barriers along the southwest border, to bar immigrants who had their statuses adjusted from accessing Social Security based on work they did when they were undocumented (which passed by one vote), against enhancing labor protection enforcements for both US workers and guest workers, and he voted to declare English “the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance” its role.
In 2006, he voted for the Secure Fence Act, funding the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border. And he bragged about enhancing deportations and border security.
None of this is surprising, coming from the VP of “deporter-in-chief” Barack Obama.
Medicare and Social Security
In the 1980s, Biden called for a spending freeze on Social Security, and a higher Social Security retirement age.
As VP, Biden was all too eager to sacrifice Medicare and Social Security on the altar of “bipartisanship”. In 2010, he appointed Republican senator Alan Simpson to co-chair Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. Simpson was one of the most high-profile foes of entitlements, and together with Biden, recommended cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Later that year, he headed tax policy negotiations with Mitch McConnell. While Obama sought to end Bush-era tax cuts, Biden handed McConnell everything he wanted on a silver platter:
The final deal extended the Bush tax cuts, cut payroll taxes by $112 billion and met a host of other Republican demands: a lower estate tax with a higher exemption, new tax write-offs for businesses, and a maximum 15 percent capital gains tax rate locked in for two years. In return, unemployment insurance was extended for 13 months and the Opportunity Tax Credit for two years.
House Democrats were furious at both the estate tax provision and the Bush tax cut extension, partly because, according to Woodward, Biden had failed to mention the extension was on the table when he briefed Democratic leaders during the talks. Even conservative Democrats like House Whip Steny Hoyer had strongly opposed the extension, and the deal drew consternation from across the party. Dianne Feinstein balked at its size, and Bernie Sanders and two other senators interrupted Biden’s presentation of the package. Sanders later vowed to “do everything I can to defeat this proposal,” including filibuster it. However, enough Democrats eventually capitulated, with some grumbling, for the deal to pass, overcoming an eight-hour filibuster by Sanders.
Biden went on to propose a $4 trillion cut, and then a $2 trillion cut to general spending, federal retirement funds, Medicare and Medicaid, and food stamps. He called for another $200 billion completely unprompted.
Later in the negotiations, Biden dangled the possibility of Medicare cuts in return for more revenue — meaning higher taxes. Soon after, he suggested Democrats might be comfortable raising the eligibility age for entitlements, imposing means testing and changing the consumer price index calculation, known as CPI. (Means testing is often seen a Trojan horse for chipping away at these programs, because their universality is one of the reasons they’ve remained virtually untouchable for almost a century. It’s also been criticized for imposing an unnecessary and discouraging layer of bureaucracy.)
At one point, Biden reportedly called the Medicare provider tax a “scam.” “For a moment, Biden sounded like a Republican,” Woodward notes. Biden’s team was forced to remind him that such a move would force states to cut services to the poor, to which he replied, “We’re going to do lots of hard things,” and so “we might as well do this.”
Biden even admitted that he’d given McConnell everything he wanted:
“We’ve given up on revenues, we’ve given on dollar for dollar,” Woodward quotes Biden telling McConnell. “All the major things we’re interested in we’ve given up. So basically you’ve pushed us to the limit.”
The bargain never passed, much to Biden’s dismay. In a 2018 speech, he said “Paul Ryan was correct when he did the tax code. What’s the first thing he decided we needed to go after? Social Security and Medicare. We need to do something about Social Security and Medicare.”
Biden’s stance on Medicare For All hardly needs to be said. He’s firmly against it.
“Overnight, it became safe to own the managed care stocks again. Don’t worry, it’s not too late. The political risk was most reduced,” Cramer said. Pointing out that the Democratic leadership in Congress is also against a single-payer system, “with Biden leading in the polls, it’s more obvious that the health insurance business will be just fine.”
I don’t personally believe that Biden is such a strong frontrunner that nothing can knock him off. It’s early; no one knows what the fuck will happen. But I know one thing: The people who are most interested in Biden winning are not your average Democratic primary voters, who are spoiled for choice this year and have favorable opinions of many of the candidates. The people who most want to see him win are health insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical executives, who want nothing more than to silence all talk of Medicare for All, and the people who are most heavily invested in those companies’ continued success — which means continued profiteering off the pain and death of regular Americans.
Dan Hilferty, CEO of health insurance giant Independence Blue Cross, attended a Biden fundraiser mere hours after Biden announced his candidacy.
The Surveillance State
In the 1990s, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Biden introduced the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act and the Violent Crime Control Act, both of which mandated that the government must be allowed to obtain the contents of any electronic communications services (essentially banning encryption):
It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.
Both bills failed, but Biden’s next attempt, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, did not. The FBI, CIA, and NSA were pleased.
CALEA represented one step in the FBI and NSA’s attempts to restrict encryption without backdoors. In a top-secret memo to members of President George H.W. Bush’s administration including Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and CIA director Robert Gates, one White House official wrote: “Justice should go ahead now to seek a legislative fix to the digital telephony problem, and all parties should prepare to follow through on the encryption problem in about a year. Success with digital telephony will lock in one major objective; we will have a beachhead we can exploit for the encryption fix; and the encryption access options can be developed more thoroughly in the meantime.”
But it gets so much worse. Biden drafted the 1995 precursor to the patriot act, a fact which he regularly boasted about. He even complained that the patriot act hadn’t gone far enough- specifically, because the measures allowing the police to use illegally obtained wiretapping evidence or to carry out 48-hour surveillance without a court order had been removed.
The next year, months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of “terrorism” that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detection of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode “constitutional and statutory due process protections” and would “authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations.”
Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill,” he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as “the Democratic Party’s de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism.”
Biden’s chronology is not accurate: the bombing took place in April 1995 and his bill had been introduced in February 1995. But it’s true that Biden’s proposal probably helped to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration’s Patriot Act.
Biden voted for the Patriot Act, and later to renew it in 2006. He also voted for Bob Dole’s 1996 bill, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which incorporated elements of his own Omnibus Counterterrorism Act.
Legal scholar Lincoln Caplan called [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act] “surely one of the worst statues ever passed by Congress and signed into law,” and argued that it “gutted the federal writ of habeas corpus,” slashing the rate of state courts’ reversal of death penalty decisions by 40 percent.
Of course, when opposition to the surveillance state became mainstream, Biden immediately changed course.
It wasn’t just that Biden voted for the Iraq war on the Senate floor five months before it began. During the lead-up to that vote, in August 2002, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he presided over sham hearings — refusing to allow experts who opposed an invasion to get any words in edgewise — while a cavalcade of war hawks testified in the national spotlight.
“It is difficult to over-estimate the critical role Biden played in making the tragedy of the Iraq war possible,” Middle East studies professor Stephen Zunes wrote. “More than two months prior to the 2002 war resolution even being introduced, in what was widely interpreted as the first sign that Congress would endorse a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Biden declared on August 4 that the United States was probably going to war. In his powerful position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he orchestrated a propaganda show designed to sell the war to skeptical colleagues and the American public by ensuring that dissenting voices would not get a fair hearing.”
Biden even praised President Bush’s handling of the war:
“President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress,” Biden said in a 2002 floor speech given during the debate over legislation authorizing action against Iraq.
At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation, and I believe he will continue to do so. At least, that is my fervent hope,” Biden said. “I wish he would turn down the rhetorical excess in some cases because I think it undercuts the decision he ends up making. But in each case in my view he has made the right rational calm deliberate decision.”
Biden is the only Democratic candidate to vote for the war.
Years later, Obama would entrust Biden with US relations with Iraq (stating “Joe will do Iraq”). At the time, the prime minister was the notoriously corrupt Nouri al-Maliki. Biden pushed hard to keep Maliki in power, a move which had terrible consequences:
According to present and former Iraqi officials, Biden’s emissaries pressed hard to assemble a coalition that would reinstall Maliki as prime minister. “It was clear they were not interested in anyone else,” one Iraqi diplomat told me. “Biden himself was very scrappy — he wouldn’t listen to argument.” The consequences were, in the official’s words, “disastrous.” In keeping with the general corruption of his regime, Maliki allowed the country’s security forces to deteriorate. Command of an army division could be purchased for $2 million, whereupon the buyer might recoup his investment with exactions from the civilian population. Therefore, when the Islamic State erupted out of Syria and moved against major Iraqi cities, there were no effective defenses. With Islamic State fighters an hour’s drive from Baghdad, the United States belatedly rushed to push Maliki aside and install a more competent leader, the Shiite politician and former government minister Haider al-Abadi.
The extent of his influence on other American foreign affairs is unclear. What is known is that Obama also entrusted him with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ukraine, and it’s doubtful that Biden’s involvement resulted in anything good happening there. He was vice president during the 2009 US-backed coup in Honduras and the 2014 US-backed overthrow of the Ukrainian government.
[Biden] has nothing but warm words for Juan Orlando Hernández, the current president, who financed his 2013 election campaign with $90 million stolen from the Honduran health service and more recently defied his country’s constitution by running for a second term. Instead, we read much about Biden’s shepherding of the Hernández regime, along with its Central American neighbors El Salvador and Guatemala, into the Alliance for Prosperity, an agreement in which the signatories pledged to improve education, health care, women’s rights, justice systems, etc., in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid. In the words of Professor Dana Frank of UC Santa Cruz, the alliance “supports the very economic sectors that are actively destroying the Honduran economy and environment, like mega-dams, mining, tourism, and African palms,” reducing most of the population to poverty and spurring them to seek something better north of the border. The net result has been a tide of refugees fleeing north, most famously exemplified by the “caravan” used by Donald Trump to galvanize support prior to November’s congressional elections.
Biden spearheaded the Alliance for Prosperity, the plan the Obama administration adopted, which increased privatization and dependency on the United States in Central America. He also viewed this as an opportunity to internationalize his war on drugs. It ended up screwing Central Americans, to the surprise of no one.
In practice, the scheme had done more to open the country up to foreign investment than to stem the flow of drugs. At the same time, the increased investment in security forces that came attached to US funding fueled breathtaking state violence in the country — 1.8 million displaced in three years and 3,000 innocent people killed, dressed up as guerrillas to claim reward money — while its anti-coca fumigation program destroyed only food crops, paradoxically feeding the growth of cocaine cultivation.
Biden viewed all of these plans as successes, even as they fed into a vicious cycle by helping foster the very violence and deprivation that would push ever larger numbers of migrants out, in turn necessitating the plans’ revival. In a June 2018 op-ed, he name-checked both Plan Colombia and the Alliance for Prosperity as models for US policy to deal with the migration crisis going forward. A few months later a thousands-strong caravan of Central American migrants would dominate headlines, driven from their homes thanks in part to that same plan pushed by Biden while vice president.
Biden also supported funding the brutal and corrupt Central American Regional Security Initiative.
It was Biden who shaped Obama’s widely hated approach to the war on terror. Replacing ground forces with faceless drones and special forces made invasions far more palpable to the public, allowing Obama to expand the forever war worldwide.
Israel and AIPAC
If you guessed Biden was a staunch supporter of Israel, you’d be correct. In 1982, he supported an amendment to “establish the principle that American economic assistance to Israel would not be less than the amount of debt Israel repays to the United States”. It passed, securing crucial amounts of arms and cash for Israel.
Even as outrage piled on over Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Biden held the line and assured Begin he wasn’t critical of the invasion. Less than a week after Israeli forces slaughtered thousands of Palestinian refugees in the country, Biden went to a four-day retreat held by the United Jewish Appeal Young Leadership Cabinet, where he spoke alongside the executive director of AIPAC and Benjamin Netanyahu (one of Biden’s old friends), at that point serving in the Israeli embassy in D.C. While even a pro-Israel lifer like Cranston had urged Israel to withdraw in the wake of the crime, a year later Biden said that “Israel’s presence in Lebanon is vitally important.”
Biden kept this up for his entire career, supporting measure after measure to ensure Israel paid less to the US and received more in return. In fact, Biden maintained close ties with AIPAC, and he was the favorite of the Israel lobby in the 2008 race. And after becoming VP, Israel ally Chuck Schumer called him “the best friend of Israel in the [Obama] administration”.
Mr. Biden’s ability to raise money quickly, according to officials of some rival campaigns, was in part a result of his willingness over many years to speak at fund-raising dinners for Israel.
‘’Over the years, they’ve done a really methodical organizational job of moving around the pro-Israel network and it’s really paid off,’’ said William Carrick, Mr. Gephrardt’s campaign manager.
In 1995, Biden voted to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The motion passed, but was blocked by subsequent presidents- until Trump.
AIPAC went out of their way to thank Biden in 2006, for co-sponsoring a bill with Mitch McConnell that cut off aid to Palestine.
“AIPAC commends the Republican and Democratic leadership of the House and Senate for their efforts to secure today’s final passage of this critical bill. AIPAC particularly thanks the bill’s House and Senate sponsors, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joe Biden (D-DE).”
The Internet and Copyright Law
Biden was an ally of the widely loathed RIAA and MPAA. In 2002, he sponsored a bill that would have made it a federal felony to make devices “play unauthorized music or execute unapproved computer programs”. He signed a letter that urged the Justice Department “to prosecute individuals who intentionally allow mass copying from their computer over peer-to-peer networks.” In 2007, he sponsored a bill to restrict Americans from recording music from radio services. Biden was one of only four senators invited to a celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the act widely abused by corporate interests to issue takedowns on anything and everything.
Joe Biden does not support net neutrality. In 2006, he indicated that he did not think net neutrality laws were needed. After declaring his intent to run in 2019, his first act was to attend a fundraiser Comcast’s senior executive vice president David Cohen. Comcast has spent millions lobbying against net neutrality.
In 2007, Biden declined to co-sponsor the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, a bipartisan bill that would have amended the Communication Act of 1934 to include net neutrality protections.
In his invitation to the fundraiser, David Cohen urged attendees to contribute the maximum legal amount to Biden’s campaign. In fact, from 1989 to 2010, Biden received $84,500 from Comcast. Since then, he has presumably received quite a bit more.
The Finance Industry and Student Debt
Like so many others, Biden pretends to be a blue-collar everyman who will fight for the little guy, but in actuality is a man corrupt to the core. He is a man who represents big corporations and spares barely a thought for the people of the working class, whose lives he regularly ruins in the name of corporate profit.
Biden was a senator for the state of Delaware, known for being a tax haven. Delaware is home to big banks and other finance-related industries, which, naturally, are all completely rotten. And it is Biden’s job to represent them.
For much of Biden’s career, the credit card giant MBNA was his largest contributor, and he unfailingly voted with them against the working class. He voted against a measure that would have required credit card companies to warn consumers of the consequences of making only minimum payments. Four times, he voted for a bill that made it difficult for poor borrowers struggling with credit card debt to declare bankruptcy, and removed some of their protection from creditors.
Biden worked to pass the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act- described by Harpers Magazine as a “carefully crafted flail of the poor”. The disastrous law turned borrowers into essentially “indentured servants” of financial institutions, such as the Delaware credit card companies that provided the majority of Biden’s campaign contributions.
“Of the 18 Democratic senators who ultimately contributed to the major 2005 bankruptcy bill’s passage, none were as consistent or deep in their support of the lending industry as Joe Biden.”
It wasn’t hard to ascertain his motivations:
There’s also Biden’s history of close relationships to lobbyists. A number of Biden’s longtime staffers passed through the revolving door that led from Biden’s office to the lobbying industry — and back. He’s been known to attend weekend retreats with lobbyists, and from 1989 to 2008 the industry donated $344,400 to him, a little more than the $300,000 given by finance and credit card companies. Mega-lobbyist Gerald Cassidy says he and Biden are “good friends.”
A 2001 version of the bill that Biden also worked to support had been vetoed by Clinton, and then-senator Barack Obama had voted against the 2005 bill.
Biden was chosen as one of three Democratic representatives on a committee tasked with writing the bill. Although the National Consumer Law Center advised the committee against an “unwise and unjust” crackdown on students, the committee imposed a five-year exemption on government-sponsored loans from bankruptcy protections. This small hole was chipped away at over years, as bankruptcy exemptions were extended to government loans for vocational schools in addition to higher education in 1984, again with Biden spearheading the effort among the Democratic constituency. Even the unrelated 1990 Crime Control Act included language that further extended the bankruptcy exemptions’ waiting periods.
In 1997, the National Bankruptcy and Review Commission, formed under the direction of President Clinton, advised that student loans be made dischargeable again like any other private, consumer debt. Once again, however, Biden favored the industry professionals’ view and limited bankruptcy protection to those who could prove their failure to pay sprang from “undue hardship.” Common wisdom among law experts is that undue hardship can only be proved if the debtor’s economic prospects are impossible to improve, colloquially known by the grim “certainty of hopelessness.”
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act that Biden worked to pass was also responsible for the student loan crisis.
Biden, it seems, was against any kind of protection for protection for borrowers, no matter how mild.
For instance, he voted against one amendment that would protect mothers who failed to receive their child support or alimony. He voted against setting a limit of 30 percent on loan interest. He also voted against special protections for bankruptcy among former military, victims of identity theft and those with unmanageable medical debt.
Biden had a long rivalry with now presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on the subject, with Biden representing the banks and credit card companies, and Warren opposing. And Warren had a lot to say:
After George W. Bush’s election, lobbyists began pushing for the bill again, so Warren wrote an article in the Harvard Women’s Law Journal castigating Biden in particular for supporting it. “Senator Biden supports legislation that will fall hardest on women, particularly on women trying to rear children on their own,” she wrote. “Why? The answer will have to come from him, if any reporter or constituent presses on this question. There is an unavoidable suspicion, however, that he supports the financial industry’s legislation because there is no political disadvantage to supporting it. Bankruptcy is sufficiently arcane, sufficiently obscure that it is possible for an otherwise respected legislator to support legislation that, over the next decade, will make it more difficult for millions of women to keep their homes, feed their children, and deal with bill collectors.”
More Being a Corporate Tool
Even during his first senate run, Biden was already trying to “prostitute” himself to big donors.
Of 22 democrats running, Biden is the only one who voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the disastrous trade deal widely regarded as a massive victory of big business that devastated the working class, and one of the greatest triumphs of neoliberal globalization. He still stands by it. In 2000, he voted to extend “permanent normal trade relations” with China, also regarded as a terrible move, but another victory for globalization. And as vice president, Biden supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another massive corporate power grab.
In 1999, Biden voted for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, which separated commercial and investment banking. The act had been passed in 1933 in response to the widespread fraud from banks that led to the Great Depression, and it worked. The repeal was a direct cause of the 2008 crisis- the worst recession since the Depression.
In 1979, Biden co-sponsored legislation that let the soft drink industry bypass anti-trust laws- after receiving a generous donation from Coca-Cola. He was one of two democrats to vote against a bill that expanded consumers’ rights to sue over price-fixing- and one of the influential companies lobbying against the bill was based in Delaware. And he spent years fighting attempts to make it more difficult for companies to declare bankruptcy- which would’ve been a big hit to the profits of many of the Delaware-based companies Biden represented.
In 1996, Biden voted for Clinton’s welfare reform, which massively crippled welfare. To this day, many families live in poverty thanks to the gutting of welfare. Combined with his record on criminal justice, one gets the impression that Biden was all too eager to screw poor people and non-whites.
Biden paints himself as a “union guy”- but he has rallied anti-union interests behind him for his 2020 campaign, making it abundantly clear that his relationship with unions will have outlived its usefulness should he win the presidency.
Rob Atkinson, a Teamster and Mars resident, said he and other rank-and-file Teamsters are upset about the pension cuts. He blames the Kline-Miller act as the reason the pensions are being cut and says the bill amounts to wage theft. “They don’t know what to do about it,” says Atkinson. “If you are pulling $3,000 a month and then that is cut to $2,000, that makes a big difference.”
Over the last several months, local Teamster Bill Lickert had the job of letting the 17,000 Pittsburgh area pensioners know that they would be receiving smaller checks.
“I’ve had people break down on the phone because they don’t know how they’re gonna make their expenses,” Lickert said to the P-G in January. “And I don’t know how to give them an answer.”
The Comcast fundraiser Biden attended immediately after announcing his candidacy was hosted by Steven Cozen, founder and chairman of a union-busting law firm. Also at the fundraiser was Dan Hilferty, CEO of health insurance giant Independence Blue Cross.
Also relating to Comcast, Biden’s favorable relationship with them is enough to ensure the support of the Comcast-owned MSNBC as a propaganda tool for his campaign.
Biden met with other big names, including Eric Schmidt, Former Google CEO, John Morgan, GOP mega-donor, and Steve Westly, Silicon Valley mogul known for his role in covering up a domestic abuse scandal.
Larry Rasky and George Cronin, Raytheon lobbyists, have also launched a fundraising effort for Biden’s campaign. And they’re far from the only ones.
Even early in his career, Biden was one of the top earners of outside income in the senate- and had voted against a bill that would have limited those earnings. His speaking fees were enormous- in 1977, he made $22,596 in speaking fees, which is is equivalent to almost $94,000 in 2019. Jacobin states that he earns $100,000–200,000 per speech in 2019, citing a source that has been mysteriously taken down.
One of those speeches occurred in the 2018 election cycle, when Biden was paid $200,000 to give a speech endorsing Republican and Michigan Representative Fred Upton. Despite the pleading of the Democrats, Biden refused to recant his statements. The speech was quickly incorporated into Upton’s advertising, and he went on to defeat his Democrat opponent, thanks to Biden.
But Biden isn’t shying away from or apologizing for the speech. In fact, he was defiant in comments to the US Conference of Mayors after the story came out. “I like Republicans. Bless me, father, for I have sinned,” he said with sarcasm and a pantomime.
And the Biden family was rife with nepotism. In 1996, MBNA employed Biden’s son, Hunter, right out of law school- immediately providing him with a six-figure salary. Only two years later, Hunter was the senior vice president, and began a lobbying firm with his father’s former treasurer and advisor, William Oldaker. Hunter stuck with the company while Joe was doing his best to represent their interests in the senate. He was later accused in a lawsuit of defrauding a business partner.
In 2014, Hunter Biden was added to the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company, Burisma. His hiring coincided with his father’s vocal support of a European natural gas pipeline, and with the company launching a new effort to lobby congress. Also at the same time, the owner of the company was under investigation for corruption.
And Hunter wasn’t the only one:
According to a 2012 story that was curiously ignored by anyone other than conservative outlets, a mid-sized construction firm Hill International that won a $1.5 billion contract to build 100,000 homes in Iraq just happened to have Biden’s brother, James, as its executive vice president, despite his seemingly lacking any experience in residential construction prior to joining the firm. How did the company get the contract? It helped to have “the brother of the vice president as a partner,” the company’s president allegedly told a group of investors.
In 1996, Biden sold his family home to John Cochran, a top MBNA executive, for $1.2 million.
Biden’s many organizations appear to be similarly fraudulent. Biden’s PAC, American Possibilities, allegedly exists to fund candidates who “believe in American possibilities”, but only 21% of the $2.5 million it raised in the 2018 cycle went to Democrat candidates. The rest went to “salaries and expenses”.
Of the $2.6 million raised by the Biden Foundation in 2017, 45 percent went to staff salaries. Similarly, the 45 percent of spending by the Beau Biden Foundation went to staff salaries, while less than one percent went to grants. Worse yet, of the $1.8 million spent by the Biden Cancer Initiative in 2017, more than three-fourths of it was spent on “salaries and other compensation”. The Cancer Initiative received millions that year from undisclosed donors.
The Folks at the Top
Biden is a stalwart defender of the ultra-rich, and consistently has been throughout his career. In recent years, he has made a point of contrasting himself with Bernie Sanders- as the guy who refuses to blame the wealthy for anything.
In October of 2017, he stated to a crowd in Alabama: “Guys, the wealthy are as patriotic as the poor. I know Bernie doesn’t like me saying that, but they are.” In 2018, he repeated his remarks. “I get in trouble in my party when I say, ‘Wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks.’ I found no distinction.” He also said “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”
For those who haven’t been keeping track, the folks at the top are, in fact, extremely bad guys. They’re also the guys who Biden is beholden to.
Biden puts little effort into hiding that fact. In a June 2019 fundraiser with his rich donors, Biden told them “I need you very badly” and “I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money.”
2020 Presidential Bid
But Biden’s delusions about how the institution he had spent most of his adult life serving in functions is just one part of the story. Biden is a Third Way Democrat with a seemingly congenital aversion to anything that smacks of populism, at least of the left-wing variety. With a career in politics forged mainly in the “long Reagan era,” Biden has built up an image based on loudly shunning and bucking “liberal special interests” — that era’s code word for civil rights activists, unions, women’s groups, and the poor. As he told the National Journal in 2001, the Clintonite Third Way is both “where the American people are” and “where the Democratic Party should have been.” Resorting to “class warfare and populism” will only hand power to Republicans.
Biden’s 2008 presidential run unspectacularly flamed out, and his 1988 run crashed and burned due to his blatant plagiarism.
“My intent was not to deceive anyone,’’ Biden wrote at the time. ‘’For if it were, I would not have been so blatant.’’
Prior to announcing his third attempt in 2019, Biden said he had “the most progressive record of anybody running”. If you’ve read any other part of this article, you know how blatant of a lie that is.
Ever since Trump’s election, neoliberal media has done everything in its power to push the narrative that Trump is some kind of aberration. The idea is that the system was working fine until Trump, either single-handedly or with the aid of the dastardly Russians, threw a wrench into it. It’s a lie that has been pushed precisely so a corporate tool like Joe Biden could take advantage of it- which is exactly what he’s done.
“Limit it to four years,” Mr. Biden pleaded with a ballroom crowd of 600 in the eastern Iowa city of Dubuque. “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration.”
“This is not the Republican Party,” he added, citing his relationships with “my Republican friends in the House and Senate.”
This is absolutely the Republican party, and there is no doubt that Biden knows that. After all, he’s spent 40 years of his life giving them nearly everything they wanted under the guise of “bipartisanship”. Biden certainly keeps up with politics and is fully aware of how approving the Republicans are of Trump.
Even Obama denounced the absurd narrative.
“It did not start with Donald Trump,” declaimed Obama in a scathing speech in Illinois in September 2018, ahead of the midterm elections. “He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”
“Over the past few decades,” added Obama while decrying “empty” bipartisanship, “the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.”
But Biden’s campaign is predicated in his centrist, middle-of-the-road, bipartisan, compromise, etc. rhetoric. In fact, his whole career has been about selling Democrats on right-wing policy. Acknowledging reality means the death of his presidential ambitions.
Not that he has much of a shot. While his proponents like to claim he is “electable”, Biden has damn near every single flaw that kept Hillary Clinton from the White House in 2016, as well as a whole host of others. And even then, many of Clinton’s detractors held their nose and voted for her against Trump. Biden, whose record is even worse than Clinton’s, wouldn’t be so fortunate.
“No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”
— Biden summing up his campaign to rich donors.
Much of what Democrats blame Republicans for was enabled, quite literally, by Biden: Justices whose confirmation to the Supreme Court he rubber-stamped worked to disembowel affirmative action, collective bargaining rights, reproductive rights, voting rights. (Just look at Georgia, where curtailed voting rights may have helped Brian Kemp ascend to the governor’s mansion, where this week he praised and may soon sign a six-week abortion ban, leaving Stacey Abrams conveniently free to be Joe Biden’s imaginary running mate.) In his years in power, Biden and his party (elected thanks to a nonwhite base enfranchised in the 1960s) built the carceral state that disproportionately imprisons and disenfranchises people of color, as part of what Michelle Alexander has described as the New Jim Crow. With his failure to treat seriously claims of sexual harassment made against powerful men on their way to accruing more power (claims rooted in prohibitions that emerged from the feminist and civil-rights movements of the 1970s), Biden created a precedent that surely made it easier for accused harassers, including Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, to nonetheless ascend. Economic chasms and racial wealth gaps have yawned open, in part thanks to Joe Biden’s defenses of credit card companies, his support of that odious welfare-reform bill, his eagerness to support the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
In other words, a Supreme Court and decades of federal legislation shaped in part by Joe Biden and his party have managed to reverse many of the achievements of the 20th century’s most transformative social movements: the very achievements that had provoked the kind of backlash that politicians like Joe Biden were put in place to quell.
Very often, we are told — by people on television and in political media, perhaps by the people in our social circle and our families — that Joe Biden is the only way that Democrats can win in 2020. It’s a version of what we have been told over and over and over again for 50 years. But when I look at these last decades, I don’t actually see how much we’ve won with a party run by Those Guys. I see how much we’ve lost.
In an age of increasing populist and socialist sentiment, Biden has arisen as the savior of the corporate establishment.
It’s not enough to simply not vote for him. Biden is by far the worst candidate running for the 2020 nomination. He is everything wrong with the establishment personified. The path to progress involves salting the earth from which his career grew.
Only then can we begin to fix the incalculable damage Joe Biden has done to America and the world.
Fuck Joe Biden.
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- Will Black Voters Still Love Biden When They Remember Who He Was?
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- Let’s Not Rewrite History to Defend Joe Biden’s Record of Dog-Whistle Politics
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