By the Editorial Board
Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was passed through the US Senate this past week, setting the stage for Democratic Party-controlled Congress to advance the second part of Biden’s massive spending plan, which adds another $3.5 trillion to the government’s spending on transportation, energy, social programs and more. Biden has promoted his plan with pandering appeals to the working class, and while aspects of the spending may bring short-term relief to some workers, it also represents another drastic state effort to keep a decaying capitalist economy on life-support. For the bourgeoisie, whether they are from the faction of big spending or tax cuts, it is in their interests to preserve the status quo of US imperialism, operating through its state which becomes more reactionary with each passing administration and crisis.
Of the first $1.2 trillion bill, about $450 billion is a renewal of existing infrastructure and transportation funding that was set to expire in September. The additional $550 billion is broken into various areas including $110 billion for roads and bridge improvements, $66 billion for rail, $65 billion to expand high-speed internet access, $50 billion for water systems, and more. Imperialism operates based on the demands of profit, not on the social need, and this is how these investments should be analyzed. As imperialism goes through one of its cyclical crises of overproduction since last year, the bourgeoisie is again compelled to seek short-term, self-interested solutions that merely prop up the system at the root of the people’s misery.
Through his strategy, Biden represents a faction of the bourgeoisie which sees the need for more overt state intervention in the economy while filling the pockets of the private monopolies that direct US imperialism, but of course this is not apparent in how he promotes his plan. Biden has used populist language to portray the infrastructure bills as mainly boosts to workers and the people, stating, “this is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America. We’re going to do all of this by keeping my commitment— we will not raise taxes by one cent on people making less than $400,000 a year.”
Biden may be pandering to workers and the middle class, but ultimately it is the private monopolies who will gain the most economically. Private monopoly capitalists are salivating at lucrative government contracts and the benefits from the state’s investment in public infrastructure, which corporations rely on as part of their daily operations to realize profit.
The plan’s transportation-related investments are intended to address longstanding logistical issues in the economy exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As demand for commodities has risen once again, failures in the supply chain, like port overcrowding and highway traffic buildups, have resulted in shortages of products like microprocessors, causing ripple effects into sectors such as automobile manufacturing. Corporations that relied on ‘just-in-time’ shipping to minimize costs are now taking a blow to profits as factories are forced to halt production as they wait for parts to arrive.
Whether the people have fewer potholes in their streets, the key purpose of the state paving roads and rebuilding bridges is to benefit the imperialist monopolies who use them: Amazon, UPS, the companies who ship their freight across US highways, etc.
Biden’s proposal for expanding high-speed internet access is another gift to corporations. Companies like AT&T and Charter Communications will receive $40 billion to lay fiber-optics cables, along with another $18 billion to temporarily subsidize poor families’ monthly internet bill ($18 billion right back into the pockets of the tech monopolies). Once the subsidy is gone, Biden’s claim that the tech monopolies will maintain lower prices is dubious, showing that this service is in the long-term interests of private capital, not the people.
The bill will also increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations across US roadways, aiding the profit of companies like Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, currently the richest man in the world. In the fact sheet for his plan, Biden laments that the, “U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. He is proposing a $174 billion investment to win the EV market.” ‘Clean energy’ is about imperialist competition, not better management of the environment.
Biden’s spending bill is the latest installment of imperialist ‘rescue plans’ such as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and Barack Obama’s economic bailout following the 2008 recession. These both came in the wake of economic crisis and focused on employing government dollars to benefit private interests. Importantly, each of these plans strengthened the imperialist state’s role in managing the economy and concentrated further power in the presidency. As the inevitable economic crises of overproduction under imperialism continue to be more prolonged and devastating as the imperialist system decays, they require more drastic measures by the ruling class to strengthen and defend their class dictatorship. Biden is right on cue with his plan.
No matter how many jobs Biden’s plan may create, the working class continues to see stagnating wages and will bear the brunt of imperialism’s inherent economic instability and devastation. US imperialism cannot save itself, regardless of how much it spends. Any job gains or economic development that occurs from the plan will be wiped out in a greater crisis in the years to come—this is not speculation, it is an inevitability of the laws of capitalism.
The ruling class sees shoring up the imperialist state in the face of crisis as key, and this means doing so principally through the executive branch, i.e. the presidency. The spending plan highlights the contradiction between the consolidated executive and the further divided legislative branch, which is increasingly inept at conducting its business.
Biden and the monopoly media have hailed the first spending package as a “bipartisan success,” but this simply indicates that that the ruling class is less divided on its contents and more united in the necessity to operate through Biden’s executive intervention. The next phase of the infrastructure spending is now going through preliminary processes in the US Congress and there are signs of less unity on its $3.5 trillion price tag and its elements. Of course, there is division among the ruling class in their strategies for propping up US imperialism, and further details of Biden’s plan will be discussed in upcoming articles.
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