The primary plank in Joe Biden’s re-election campaign centers around what he calls “Bidenomics” — the premise that he can “grow the economy from the middle out and bottom up” as opposed to the trickle down economics of some earlier administrations.
But two years into Biden’s first administration, workers are worse off economically as inflation and poverty rates soar, and social programs — including expanded Medicaid, food stamps and childcare credits — have been drastically cut or eliminated.
But the worsening economic conditions for workers and the poor have nothing to do with a lack of resources to fulfill human needs. Biden has made it his priority to satisfy the capitalist drive for profits, especially weapons manufacturers and energy executives, rather than improve social and economic conditions for the majority of the U.S. population. Any talk of “from the middle out” is just an empty phrase.
Under “Bidenomics,” a priority is supposedly to “empower and educate workers to grow the middle class.” Exactly how this is supposed to happen remains a major question when student loan debt has been reinstated, affirmative action has been dismantled by the U.S. Supreme Court and college tuition is rising at record rates.
While Biden promises to “make smart public investments,” there is no indication of how he would do this with a federal budget that prioritizes military spending while gutting funding for public education.
Emergency measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic had begun to offer working families a step up out of extreme poverty. Introduced in 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s pandemic-relief package, the expanded child tax credit helped pull some families out of poverty. Had the extended tax credit remained in place, child poverty would have been nearly 50 percent lower in 2022.
However, faced with opposition from Republicans and members of his own party, Biden dropped efforts to extend this program. The result was a dramatic rise of poverty rates, especially among children, in 2022, when the poverty rate rose to 12.4% from 7.8% in 2021 — the largest one-year jump on record.
In 2023, millions of people who had relied on government-funded healthcare, also started during the pandemic, found their benefits cut or even eliminated. Federal programs that succeeded in lifting millions of people out of poverty were abandoned.
In their article on the rise in poverty rates in 2022, even the New York Times concludes “that poverty is very much a policy choice.” (Sept. 12, 2023)
With the escalation of the U.S./NATO-driven war in Ukraine in February 2022, Biden’s spending policies dramatically shifted to billions of dollars on weapons. Over a year and a half later, there is no indication that this spending spree for weapons of destruction will stop.
Any gains that working families have made in terms of wage increases have been the result of a growing movement of workers organizing unions and striking for long overdue increases in wages and benefits. The current United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three auto companies is a prime example, as autoworkers demand the same 40% increase in income that their company CEOs enjoyed over the past four years.
Is it possible to lift millions or even billions of people out of poverty? Yes! For a majority of its population, poverty is a capitalist-driven choice. This choice could not be clearer when you compare capitalist U.S. to socialist China, which has dedicated years of planning and serious resources to and has succeeded in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty.
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