The corruption case against Joe Biden

Zephyr Teachout, a supporter of Bernie Sanders, wrote an article accusing Joe Biden of corruption.  Sanders disavowed it and apologized. Biden accepted Sanders’ apology.

But I think Teachout was right. She pointed to three things—

Joe Biden

First, Biden’s support for finance over working-class Americans.  His career was bankrolled by the credit card industry. He delivered for it by spearheading a bankruptcy bill that made it harder for Americans to reduce their debts and helped cause the financial crisis.  He not only authored and voted for that bill, he split with Barack Obama and led the battle to vote down Democratic amendments.

His explanations for carrying water for the credit card industry have changed over time.  They have never rung true.

The simplest explanation is the most likely: he did it for his donors.  At a fundraiser last year, Biden promised his Wall Street donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he became president.  Now the financial world is raising huge money for his campaign.  It clearly thinks he’s going to be its friend if elected.  Most Americans, who get ripped off by the financial sector on a daily basis, aren’t looking for a candidate who has made their life harder.

Second, healthcare. On 25 April, the day he announced his campaign, Biden went straight to a fundraiser co-hosted by the chief executive of a major health insurance corporation.  He refuses to sign a pledge to reject money from insurance and pharma execs and continues to raise money from healthcare industry donors.  His campaign is being bankrolled by a super PAC run by healthcare lobbyists.

What did all these donors get?  A healthcare proposal that preserves the power of the insurance industry and leaves 10 million Americans uninsured.

Third, climate change. Biden signed a pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry, then broke his promise. Right after a CNN town hall on climate change, he held a fundraiser hosted by the founder of a fossil fuel conglomerate. He is pushing climate policy that has gotten dismal reviews from several leading environmental groups.

There are plenty of other examples that raise questions, like housing and social security. Big real estate moguls are playing a major role in Biden’s campaign. Unlike his rivals, he has no comprehensive housing plan. When he pushed for cuts to Social Security, was he serving donors or his constituents?

But then President Donald Trump is 100 times worse.  Trump’s whole administration is one giant conflict of interest.  Call this the “lesser evil” defense.

A Biden defender could point out that there’s no reason to think that Biden has broken any laws. And a defender could argue that there’s also no reason to think Biden is any more dependent on corporate interests than the average Senator.  Call this the “average evil” defense.

But, as Teachout pointed out, nominating Biden will enable Trump to make the same argument that he did in 2016—namely that everybody’s corrupt, everybody lies, so you might as well vote for him because he’s not a hypocrite.

If you’re a Democrat and you would be content to put things back the way they were in 2015 and 2016, before Trump entered the White House, then there is a case for Biden, with all his baggage.

If you want not only to get rid of Trump, but change the conditions that made so many people turn to Trump, you should consider Bernie Sanders.

Note that Sanders didn’t really back down.  He is running against Biden’s record.  He just doesn’t use the word “corruption.”  He thereby avoids hairsplitting arguments on the exact definition of a word.


‘Middle Class’ Joe Biden has a corruption problem – it makes him a weak candidate by Zephyr Teachout for The Guardian.

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3 Responses to “The corruption case against Joe Biden”

  1. whungerford Says:

    Trump will attack whomever his opponent may be. Sanders will be attacked as too old, too sick, and a socialist. I expect he would handle such attacks pretty well, but perhaps not well enough.


  2. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    “everybody’s corrupt, everybody lies, so you might as well vote for him because he’s not a hypocrite”

    I think that really will be the Donald’s campaign motto. Unofficially, of course. He could possibly win on it. There is something to be said for voting for a known evil than to vote for a sneaky evil that will silently stab you in the back. That perception is one of the reasons Hillary lost.


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