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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/15/21

Bernie Sanders Has Bonded with President Biden. Is That Good?

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Bernie Sanders PRAISES Biden's American Rescue Plan Sen. Bernie Sanders praised the American Rescue Plan championed by President Joe Biden.
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So far, most of the Biden presidency has been predictable. Its foreign policy includes bloated Pentagon spending and timeworn declarations that the United States should again "lead the world" and "sit at the head of the table." Many corporate influence peddlers have settled into jobs in upper reaches of the executive branch. The new administration has taken only baby steps toward student debt relief or progressive taxation. On health care, the White House keeps protecting the interests of insurance companies while rebuffing public opinion that favors Medicare for All.

And yet -- Joe Biden is no longer on the narrow corporate road that he traveled during five decades in politics.

President Biden's recent moves to curtail monopolies have stunned many observers who -- extrapolating from his 36-year record in the Senate -- logically assumed he would do little to challenge corporate power. Overall, Biden has moved leftward on economic policies, while Sen. Bernie Sanders -- who says that "the Biden of today is not what I or others would have expected" decades ago -- has gained major clout that extends into the Oval Office.

This month has seen a spate of news stories about Sanders' new political leverage, not only as chair of the Senate Budget Committee but also due to his close working relationship with Biden. Under the headline "Vermont's Longtime Outsider Has Become a Trusted Voice in the Biden White House," CNN summed up: "The Biden-Sanders connection is not a love story; it's more a marriage of convenience. But as Biden pushes an unprecedented progressive White House agenda, it's crucial." Sanders told the network that Biden "wants to be a champion of working families, and I admire that and respect that."

But if Biden is pushing "an unprecedented progressive White House agenda," it's a high jump over a low bar. Leaving aside President Lyndon Johnson's short-lived Great Society program that was smothered by Vietnam War spending, no White House agendas since the 1940s really merit the term "progressive." And the current president hardly passes as "a champion of working families" unless he's graded on an unduly lenient curve.

One danger of Bernie's tight political embrace of Biden is that "progressive" standards will be redefined downward. Another danger is that Biden's international policies and conformity to militarism will be further swept off the table of public debate.

For instance, targeting Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and other disfavored nations, Biden continues to impose sanctions that are killing many thousands of people each month, with children especially vulnerable. A truly progressive president would not do such a thing.

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

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