News Release

Biden’s “Disastrous” Legislative Record

Joe Biden is widely expected to formally announce his presidential run on Thursday.

ANDREW COCKBURN, amcockburn at gmail.com, @andrewmcockburn
Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Cockburn wrote the extensive cover story “No Joe! Joe Biden’s disastrous legislative legacy” earlier this year. It highlighted two issues that have become more widely noted since:

Cockburn quotes a “leading female Democratic activist” as saying: “We never had a talk when he wasn’t stroking my back.”

Cockburn also reported: “Further to the issue of Biden’s assurances that he is the man to beat Trump is the awkward fact that, as the former staffer told me, ‘he lacks the discipline to build the nuts and bolts of a modern presidential campaign.'”

In terms of policy, Cockburn argues that many of today’s problems — from personal debt to ISIS to the so-called border crisis — have their roots in policies Biden championed. Here are a few excerpts:

“Biden was long a willing foot soldier in the campaign to emasculate laws allowing debtors relief from loans they cannot repay. As far back as 1978, he helped negotiate a deal rolling back bankruptcy protections for graduates with federal student loans, and in 1984 worked to do the same for borrowers with loans for vocational schools. …

“By the 1980s, Biden had begun to see political gold in the harsh antidrug legislation … Biden later took pride in reminding audiences that ‘through the leadership of Senator Thurmond, and myself, and others,’ Congress had passed a law mandating a five-year sentence, with no parole, for anyone caught with a piece of crack cocaine ‘no bigger than [a] quarter.’ …

“Biden not only allowed fellow committee members to mount a sustained barrage of vicious attacks on [Anita] Hill: he wrapped up the hearings without calling at least two potential witnesses who could have convincingly corroborated Hill’s testimony and, by extension, indicated that the nominee had perjured himself on a sustained basis throughout the hearings. …

“Biden was among the 90 senators on one of the fatal (to the rest of us) legislative gifts presented to Wall Street back in the Clinton era: the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. The act repealed the hallowed Depression-era Glass-Steagall legislation that severed investment banking from commercial banking, thereby permitting the combined operations to gamble with depositors’ money, and ultimately ushering in the 2008 crash. …

“An ardent proponent of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, an ill-conceived initiative that has served as an enduring provocation of Russian hostility toward the West, Biden voted enthusiastically to authorize Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, was a major proponent of Clinton’s war in Kosovo, and pushed for military intervention in Sudan. Presumably in deference to this record, Obama entrusted his vice president with a number of foreign policy tasks over the years, beginning with ‘quarterbacking,’ as Biden put it, U.S. relations with Iraq. ‘Joe will do Iraq,’ the president told his foreign policy team a few weeks after being sworn in. ‘He knows it, he knows the players.’ It proved to be an unfortunate choice, at least for Iraqis. …

“[Biden’s book] Promise Me, Dad…has nothing but warm words for Juan Orlando Hernández, the current [Honduran] president, who financed his 2013 election campaign with $90 million stolen from the Honduran health service and more recently defied his country’s constitution by running for a second term.” As Cockburn points out: “The net result has been a tide of refugees fleeing north, most famously exemplified by the ‘caravan’ used by Donald Trump to galvanize support prior to November’s congressional elections and his subsequent fraudulent ‘border crisis.'”