By RALPH SCHOENMAN and BRADLEY WIEDMAIER
(reprinted from The Organizer Weekly Newsletter No. 2 — June 25, 2020)
From its inception, the political career of Joseph Biden has been rooted in the service of investment and finance capital. Biden’s actual role runs counter to his cultivated posture as “average Joe” standing for the supposed “middle-class” interests of working people. By reviewing Biden’s financial contributors, political action committees, and “bundlers,” it is apparent who actually holds sway over Joe Biden and the power core of Democratic Party institutions. The same forces that control the hegemonic capitalist political status quo are mobilizing to proffer a nominal “opposition” party alternative to the Trump administration and its evident crisis for the capitalists.
These very forces that crafted the Biden campaign and kicked off events one year ago illuminate the true nature of the Biden faction’s consolidation of power over the Democratic Party and its institutions. In April 2019 Republican and Democratic corporate leaders launched Biden’s presidential bid with large contribution fundraisers. David Cohen, the Comcast lobbying executive who directs 90% of his political funding to the Republican Party, hosted Biden at a key event in his Philadelphia home. Lee Fang of The Intercept noted pointedly, “The fundraising event on day one of Biden’s campaign … suggests that he’s pursuing cash from bipartisan sources.”
Biden’s Political Action Committee, “Unite the Country,” a Super PAC launched in the fall of 2019 was a vehicle for unlimited corporate, lobbyist, and financial service funds to power Biden’s presidential bid. In OpenSecrets.org, Tantyana Monnay observed, “The industry gave more to Democrats than they did to Republicans. In this cycle alone Democrats and liberal outside groups received 58% of the industry’s political giving.”
As Biden consolidated his position after the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries, his campaign utilized the main Democratic Party Super PAC “Priorities/USA,” which had been equally Hillary Clinton’s main 2016 Super PAC, and now emerged as the lead fundraising vehicle for 2020.
In late April 2020 the Democratic National Committee and the Biden Campaign also formed the “Biden Victory Fund” to jointly fund the campaign and the national and state Democratic parties, which have individual contribution limits.
Significantly, select large donors also became what is known as “bundlers” for contributions directly to the Biden Campaign. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), 47 individuals or couples bundled over $23 million for then-candidate Barack Obama. Biden was required to release a list of over 180 of his “bundlers” at the end of 2019. These big-donor bundlers and another 80-plus since December will be encouraged now to give even more to the “Biden Victory Fund” as well as to unlimited PAC vehicles.
CEPR prepared a revealing breakdown of how the reported “bundlers” connected Biden to key industries and power centers of the U.S. capitalist elite. Twenty-three percent alone belong to financial services, banking and speculators, such as private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital.
It should be noted that five of the bundlers from whom Biden has been accepting campaign contributions are attorneys at law firms with anti-worker histories. These include the firm the AFL-CIO labeled the “No.1 union-buster in America”: Jackson Lewis. Another similar outfit, Cozen O’Connor, had 10 employees max out contributions to the Biden Campaign. Its anti-union founder, Steven A Cozen, is listed officially as a Biden bundler on the campaign website. Employees from Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, another union-busting firm, also helped bankroll Biden. Individuals at O’Melveny and Myers, yet still an additional “union-avoidance” operation, contributed to Biden’s campaign.
“Union Joe” certainly has a plethora of funders who are anti-union professionals.
Journalist William Greider identified the Wall Street “centrist” New Democrats like Clinton and Biden, together with the Republicans, as follows: “The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition.” He adds “the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government, while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients’ money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side.”
It’s time for labor to use its resources and the strength in our numbers to build a real alternative to this capitalist political farce. It’s time to lay the groundwork for a party of, by and for the working class and communities of the oppressed.