More right-leaning columnists, pundits, and lawmakers are accusing President Joe Biden of being a socialist. The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger wrote on Feb. 8, after the president’s State of the Union speech, that Biden “plans to push federal spending and mandates into every nook of American life.” The president’s Republican critics have also charged Biden with socialism in the past. They have called the White House Build Back Better agenda the “Build Back Socialist” plan.
But what is the actual truth?
Joe Biden: Where Does He Stand?
Republican Congressman Tom Cole has said since 2021 that Biden would tread down the socialist path. “If passed, the [Build Back Better] legislation, in any future form, would turn America into a big government socialist nation overnight.” Cole also said in the news release that Biden’s actions would “drastically expand the welfare state, massively increase taxes and destroy jobs for hardworking Americans, cause inflation to soar even higher and lead to heightened government control.”
Biden had an answer to those accusations. Right before the 2022 midterm elections, he appeared at an elementary school in Joliet, Illinois on Nov. 5. He was greeted with signs that charged him with being a socialist. Biden replied in his speech that these people holding the signs were “idiots.”
Biden said, “I love those signs when I came in — socialism. Give me a break, what idiots. No one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes of course I say all that I mean.”
Biden and Democrats have charged the Republicans with wanting to gut Social Security and Medicare, allegations that GOP lawmakers have denied. Biden said in the Illinois speech that Republicans are coming to cut the social safety net programs.
There Are Socialist Lawmakers
Democrats do have socialists among their caucus on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has demanded the United States be transformed and should adopt huge government entitlement programs. He wants Medicare for All – a single payer government run health program for all Americans. He has supported free college tuition. Sanders has called for creating a Green New Deal that would completely alter current energy policies in the country.
Sanders visited socialist Nicaragua in 1985 and praised its communist-leaning government. He also went to Cuba and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and applauded the countries for their free housing, free health care, and free education.
One of Sanders’ acolytes is New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has similar views and stances. Both socialists have tried to call themselves Democratic Socialists in order to refrain from using the socialist moniker.
Admitted socialist writers have said that Biden does not go as far to the left as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. Jacobin’s Ben Burgis has written, “Socialists are committed to putting an end to the brutally unequal distribution of wealth and economic power in our society. And Biden has spent his entire political life on the other side of the barricades.”
Biden served for decades in the Senate and did not regularly burnish socialist principles. In fact, he has showed support for banks, particularly helping MBNA Bank in Delaware. He provided so much assistance to the financial institution that Biden was nicknamed the “Senator from MBNA.”
Others have noted that real socialism seeks to “smash the private sector” in a revolutionary manner that requires government to nationalize large industries. The bureaucracy would centrally plan the economy with price levels, predetermined wages, and production requirements. Biden has not called for such government controls.
A Matter of Your View
Also, Joe Biden claimed in his State of the Union address that “I am a capitalist.”
However, he has demanded that government tax the rich more. During the 2020 campaign Biden called for raising $4 trillion for taxing corporations and the wealthy. This would mean closing the loopholes that the wealthy allegedly use to abuse the tax system.
Thus, Joe Biden is for redistribution of wealth, but not full government control over the economy. He has demanded all workers receive a living wage and called for more sick days and for paid family leave.
Thus, the views on Biden’s alleged socialism depend on your political outlook. He is definitely not a revolutionary socialist. But he does take a progressive stance on equality of outcomes and for leveling the playing field so low-income people can survive in a 21st century economy that often leaves people behind. He is not as liberal as Sanders and AOC, but he is more progressive than the moderate that he claimed to be during the 2020 campaign.
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Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.
February 16, 2023 at 7:23 am
IMO…Joe Biden is only out for Joe Biden
February 18, 2023 at 12:48 pm
Adam Smith apologizes that the motivations of capital are not virtuous. Those who extol capitalist virtues are swindlers.