Following Terry McAuliffe’s Tuesday night loss in Virginia’s gubernatorial election and amid the White House’s ongoing failure to enact redistributive legislation due to obstruction from Republicans and right-wing Democrats in Congress, progressives are urging President Joe Biden to fully embrace and use his executive authority to challenge corporate power, which they say might give people a reason to vote for his party in next year’s midterms.
“The story of the midterm elections will be whether Biden chooses to spend the next 12 months focusing on speechifying pablum or substantive corporate accountability,” Jeff Hauser, the founder and director of the Revolving Door Project, wrote Wednesday in a blog post.
Hauser’s commentary came in the wake of McAuliffe’s defeat to “failed Carlyle private equity mogul-turned-Trump dog whistler Glenn Youngkin,” which progressives attributed to the conservative Democratic candidate’s utter lack of a pro-working class economic agenda — warning that unless they start campaigning on and delivering material gains for the vast majority, Democrats can expect similar outcomes nationwide one year from now.
“Why is a hysterical, imagined version of ‘critical race theory’ the main villain discussed in Virginia and elsewhere?” asked Hauser, who pointed out that “Glenn Youngkin’s firm, the Carlyle Group, fired thousands of unionized workers for profit.” While “a non-compromised nominee would have been able to hammer Youngkin on the ways his greed devastated real people and connected that critique to issues in Virginia,” McAuliffe, a Carlyle investor, was not willing to do so.
Turning to Biden, Hauser wrote that “as their poll numbers slump,” the president and his administration “have mostly whimpered that they are the victims of circumstance.”
“These immensely powerful men too often make excuses by pretending to be helpless, primarily because they are afraid of making powerful enemies — most especially, corporations and the ultra-wealthy,” argued Hauser. “But if they and other Democrats refuse to fight for the people, the people will seek fighters elsewhere.”
Recall yesterday’s message: Biden should be focused on what he controls (THE ECUTIVE BRANCH!). Instead of complaining about what he doesn’t have, Biden should focus on what he has. https://t.co/WkmO4fVM5x
— Jeff Hauser (@jeffhauser) November 4, 2021
Hauser proceeded to provide examples of how Biden’s executive branch could “enforce laws limiting corporate misbehavior — which would also be overdue good politics.”
For instance, asked Hauser, “if the Biden administration is so worried about supply chain disruptions, why isn’t it tackling the ultimate cause of the problem — corporate greed?”
“Profiteering companies embraced just-in-time logistics and swallowed any redundancies into bloated monopolies,” he added. “Why isn’t the Biden administration attacking firms which cared more about their dividends than their actual operations? Why isn’t the administration dusting off little-used statutory powers to mitigate and resolve these disruptions? Why is there no ‘Supply Chain Profiteering Task Force’ identifying the obstacles to normalcy in American transportation?”
Pete Buttigieg is Transportation Secretary argued that it’s necessary to “put the pandemic behind us” in order to address supply chain issues, but Hauser criticized Buttigieg for refusing to immediately “us[e] federal law to fight for consumers and against profiteers.”
Moreover, Hauser asked, “how can we ‘put the pandemic behind us’ in a world that remains largely unvaccinated thanks to Big Pharma greed?”
As Public Citizen has stressedFor months, the Biden administration was able to, with an investment in just $25 billion dollars — around 3% of what the U.S. spends on its military each year — establish regional manufacturing hubs around the world to produce eight billion coronavirus vaccine doses in less than a year.
Biden, however, had spent less that 0.01% of the $16 million in Covid-19 pandemic funds provided by Congress to expand global vaccine production as of late August according toPrEP4All.
Moderna is making billions in revenue. profitsBecause of its monopolization, publicly fundedKnowledge is the key to success. refusedThe federal government has agreed to share its vaccine formula owns a patentCoverage of a key spike protein technology used in the jabs. This gives it the legal authorityDistribute the ingredient list and manufacturing instructions.
“Why hasn’t the administration fought tooth and nail to actually end the intellectual property restrictions which strangle our global vaccine supply for the sake of blood-stained profits?” asked Hauser.
Progressives are a rare breed welcome the reintroduction of drug price reform into the Build Back Better Act — while lamenting the fact that the new version is a hollowed-out shell of the overwhelmingly popular proposal to allow Medicare to secure a wide array of affordable medications through direct negotiations with pharmaceutical corporations — Hauser stressed that the White House is missing opportunities to tackle Big Pharma’s deadly price gougingIn ways that bypass opposition from industry-funded legislators, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D.W.Va.). and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
“Forget Manchin, Sinema, and narrow congressional majorities,” he wrote. “The executive branchpossesses extraordinary power to control that industry. Why hasn’t Biden used them?”
Last Thursday, in an effort to appease a few conservative Democratic voters obstructionistsBiden unveiled a heavily gutted home Build Back Better frameworkThis proposal proposes to reduce the previously agreed-upon 10-year spending level by half, from $3.5 trillion a $1.75 trillion. removingWatering down or reducing several popularThese provisions
Just one day before, Senator Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt. said that “the challenge that we face in this really unusual moment in American history is whether we have the courage to stand with the American people and take on very powerful special interests.”
“If we fail — in my view, if the American people do not believe that government can work for them and is dominated by powerful special interests, the very fabric of American democracy is in danger,” he added.
According to journalist David Dayen, even though “Biden didn’t get everything he claimed to want” in the budget reconciliation package, there is still a lot that he can accomplish through executive action. “His hands aren’t tied here,” said Dayen, who shared The American Prospect’s “Executive Action Tracker,” which monitors 77 significant policies Biden can implement without relying on legislation from Congress.
Biden didn’t get everything he claimed to want. Executive action can help him get much of it, especially lower drug prices. His hands aren’t tied here.https://t.co/A7PLcCudlY
— David Dayen (@ddayen) October 28, 2021
A recent study also found that a significant number of interviewWith Common Dreams, former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, the national co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, said that the voters who elected Biden “are going to want to see something that changes their lives.”
Turner argued that the president should use his executive power “in a deeper way” to fight for voting rightsShe also recommended that progressives demand that Biden cancel $1.9 Trillion worth of student loan debtIn return for supporting his favorite bills.
Hauser, meanwhile, said Wednesday that “America isIn a populist moment. If Democrats won’t harness that then the right wing will, substituting their bigoted fantasies for the actual forces which make life worse for Americans.”
Hauser’s warning echoed a recent argument made by The Daily Poster’s David Sirota and Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, who co-authored a piece in Rolling StoneTheir new podcast series has just begun Meltdown, which explores how the Democratic Party’s refusal to deliver real help to millions of people in the aftermath of the Great Recession “fueled the ascent of [former President] Donald Trump — and… continues to fuel the MAGA movement today.”
When responding to the Great Depression, the pair wrote, former President Franklin Roosevelt “cast his progressive economic initiatives as both a weapon to fight the economic crisis and a shield against right-wing authoritarianism.”
“Democrats still have time to wake up, realize the existential threat before them, channel Roosevelt, and enact policies that immediately help people in order to avert an even bigger meltdown than the one in 2016,” Sirota and Gibney argued. “But time is running out.”
In response to a critic who said that the article overlooked the extent to which Manchin and Sinema are responsible for undermining Biden’s agenda, Sirota also identified several ways in which the president has failed to use his existing executive authority, and others have detailed how much further Roosevelt’s executive branch went to stave off catastrophe.
Joe Biden hasn’t used his existing executive authority to (among many other things) lower drug prices, crack down on union busters, cancel student debt, or more widely distribute government-subsidized vaccines. This is in our article. It’s also absent from your dishonest Tweet. https://t.co/NJJKMsslBi
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) October 28, 2021
According to Hauser, “Actual politics requires taking action against actual villains to solve problems, not the shrugging and cowering which elites persuade themselves is ‘savvy.’”
“There is no direct public policy response to the fantasies that the right-wing media ecosystem pushes,” he added, “but an active executive branch can generate an interesting counternarrative surrounding a president’s war on corporate corruption.”