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Op-Ed: What Joe Biden Needs to Say About Government Corruption

Greg Orman

May 23, 2020

Last week, Joe Biden, took aim at the federal government’s handling of various pandemic lockdown disaster relief programs. “Let me issue a warning right now to anyone who participates in the corrupt giveaways of President Trump and his administration to review every stimulus loan given to any big company or political insider,” Biden vowed. “Every single one."

The idea that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is now a fighter of government corruption is simultaneously laudable and laughable. Polling done earlier this year by John Della Volpe for RealClear Opinion Research as part of the ongoing “We Need Smith” project found that government corruption was the number one issue in the minds of registered voters in this country. It beat out 24 other issues, including the cost and availability of health insurance, jobs and unemployment, gun violence and mass shootings, income inequality, and climate change. This finding is consistent with other surveys. For the past seven years, government corruption and ethics (or lack thereof) has consistently ranked among the top three issues that Americans care about.

While the current coronavirus crisis has no doubt reordered our priorities, Biden’s attempt to grab the corruption-fighter mantle is durably good politics. Voters hate what they accurately perceive to be a system that is built for the benefit of insiders -- big business, incumbent politicians, lobbyists, special interests, corporate media, mega donors, and other entrenched parties with disproportionate clout in Washington.

What makes Biden’s position laughable is that it’s coming from the consummate D.C. insider -- a perpetual wader in the fetid swamp of government corruption who knows every reptile and buried stump by name. In the coming debate with Donald Trump over who is more corrupt, Joe Biden’s past makes it likely that this issue will be fought to a draw among the American electorate.

If Biden wants to change that perspective, he needs to stand for something, in both word and deed, that demonstrates he truly understands and will fight the corruption in Washington in an effort to deliver better results for the American people. The next time he decides to take to video, he might want to try something like this: 

I understand that so many of you feel that you have been left behind. You rightfully believe that our political system has been rigged against you, in favor of the economic elite and special interests who are able to buy access to power. As someone who has a been a part of that system for decades, I can say, you are right and I am sorry for whatever role I’ve played in allowing that system to continue.

But there’s a benefit to electing someone with my experience. I know how the game is played, and am 100% percent dedicated to fixing it – not with slogans or promises, but with real policies that will end the corruption and give the American people a fighting chance. Every other policy change that we are fighting for from climate change to reducing prescription drug prices to making our tax code more equitable is dependent on us getting this right.

My party has consistently stood for the belief that we desperately need to take the corrupting influence of special interest money and conflicts of interest out of our politics. But the prescriptions we have advocated for in the past have focused solely on parties outside of Capitol Hill. They are half-measures that will only...Continue Reading Here.

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