By Patrick Martin, Joseph Kishore
Behind the proclamations of a new dawn in the United States, Biden's speech Wednesday night to a joint session of Congress provided a portrait of panic, crisis and desperation on the part of the American ruling class
And more significant than the various calls for reform measures, a far more important and sinister strategic perspective was elaborated throughout: to create the political framework for a confrontation with China to maintain, if necessary through war, the global hegemony of American imperialism.
After decades in which it has become ritualistic for presidents to declare in their annual addresses to Congress that "the State of the Union is strong," Biden presented a frank admission that the social situation in the US is nothing less than catastrophic: "The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War."
If one simply isolated the sentences in which Biden depicted the reality of American society, it provides an appalling portrait of poverty, hunger and desperation facing millions of workers in the US.
The listener may have been surprised to hear Biden speak of the massive concentration of wealth, as if he were reading from an article on the World Socialist Web Site. "Twenty million Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic, working- and middle-class Americans. At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion, in the same exact period."
Moreover, while he referenced his first 100 days in office, more revealing of the real state of American society is the 114 days since the January 6 fascistic insurrection that nearly resulted in the overthrow of the government. Even as he spoke, the streets around the Capitol building were closed and patrolled by police and National Guard troops.
According to Biden, the situation has already drastically changed in just his first 100 days in office. "I can report to the nation, America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity, setbacks into strength."
Millions, however, are still being infected by COVID-19 and face the threat of death. Millions are still jobless and poverty-stricken. And none of those politically responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol have been brought to justice. On the contrary, they occupied nearly half the seats in the audience Biden addressed, referred to by Biden as "my friends across the aisle."
Aware of the deep social anger building up in the United States, Biden promised two multitrillion-dollar programs he called on Congress to adopt. The "American Jobs Plan," he claimed, would "help millions of people get back to work and back to their careers," including through major infrastructure projects.
The "American Families Plan," he said, would ensure a good education for everyone, including two years of free community college; quality, affordable child care for all parents; 12 weeks of guaranteed paid medical leave; and the expansion of child tax credits.
There is a lot less to Biden's proposals than meets the eye, and even less that will ever actually be implemented, if anything passes through Congress. Biden's politics is the politics of the golden mean -- everything for everyone. Inequality will be combatted, he promised, while proclaiming at the same time, "I think you should be able to become a billionaire and millionaire."
All the changes Biden is proposing will somehow be achieved without any inroads into the wealth of the financial oligarchy or changes in the forms of property ownership.
He pointed to the gross inequality of the 2017 Republican tax cut, with 55 of the largest corporations paying zero federal tax although they made $40 billion in profit.
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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).