President Biden went on the offensive on Tuesday at a union training center in Howell, Michigan, delivering an impassioned speech in defense of his ambitious package of social welfare expansion and climate change countermeasures that are currently being held hostage in the Senate by conservative members of his own party.
“To support these investments is to create a rising America, an America that’s moving…To oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline!” said Biden. “The work of our time, it seems to me, those of us who hold public office, is to prepare ourselves to be more competitive and to win the fast-changing 21st century, in a global economy. These bills are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another…These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by…We’re not going to ease up. We have to invest in resilience.”
The president is absolutely correct to call out the opponents of his bill as being complicit in the decline of America; provisions in the bill would lift millions of American kids out of poverty, provide free community college for young people and expand Medicare to cover vision, dental, and ear care for our nation’s seniors, to name but a few benefits in the enormous social welfare package.
Opposing it is not only a moral obscenity but a deliberate effort to hold our nation back and to keep our people from reaching its greatest potential, though it does speak volumes about the dysfunctional state of our politics and the bill’s coverage by corporate media that he feels obligated to defend what is an unobjectively Good Thing with transparently jingoistic allusions to “competition” with China.
It should not be a difficult sell to invest in our communities and to help those of our own countrymen that need it the most, but apparently, that’s too much to ask these days from a Senator like Joe Manchin, whose state of West Virginia is one of the poorest in the union and stands to gain the most from a bill like this.
It remains to be seen if the President’s olive branch to the corporate-beholden coal-hearted centrists will hit home, but it’s great to see the President out there fighting for this bill. The way the media has obsessed over the ten-year pricetag of this bill — which, in perspective, is less than half of what we’ve spent on our military over the last ten years — you wouldn’t have known that there was anything being delivered. Perhaps it’s because we’re used to spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on defense spending, only to see our planes fall out of the sky, our nation-building projects embezzled, and our materiel constantly falling into the hands of the enemy.
But now is the time to remind the American people that Democratic governments can deliver real, tangible improvements to the American people. If only our own party members would fall into place for the greater good of their colleagues and the people they ostensibly represent.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.