After defeat of bipartisan Senate bill

Seeking war funding, Biden embraces far-right anti-immigrant policies

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]

Speaking to the press Tuesday afternoon, in the midst of the collapse of his proposed legislation to provide $118 billion in supplemental war funding and carry out a major crackdown on migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, President Joe Biden declared that he would hold Republican front-runner Donald Trump to blame “every day between now and November” for the failure.

Biden was making it clear that he will place the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine at the center of the Democratic Party campaign in the 2024 elections, as well as moving sharply to the right on the treatment of migrants, seeking to match the fascist Trump in pledging to militarize the southern US border against them.

“I’m calling on Congress to pass this bill and get it to my desk immediately,” Biden said. “But if the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something: The American people are going to know why it failed… Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.”

It was only a few weeks ago that Biden was claiming that he would fight the election on the basis of Trump representing a threat to American democracy, because of his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on Capitol Hill, and other actions threatening democratic rights. Trump was a would-be dictator, he declared.

But now Biden has abruptly changed course, presenting himself as an intransigent defender of the border—previously Trump’s signature issue, as Trump denounced migrants as rapists and murderers, vilifying them in Hitlerian terms as “vermin” who were “poisoning the blood” of the American people.

Biden appealed to the Republicans to “move past this toxic politics,” referring to Trump’s intervention to torpedo the bipartisan deal on war spending. “We can’t continue to let petty partisan politics get in the way of our responsibility. We’re a great nation that’s not acting like a great nation.”

But while Biden pleads for bipartisanship, his “Republican colleagues” have just voted to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and, stymied by a tie vote, they plan to take up the matter again in the coming week. Next on the agenda of House Republicans is the impeachment of Biden himself, over the corrupt business practices of his son Hunter.

And Biden bemoans “petty partisan politics” under conditions in which Republican governors, led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, are in open revolt against the authority of the federal government over immigration.

Previously, Biden put on a show of concern over the causes of mass migration, particularly the violence, poverty and oppression endemic in the countries of Central America. He dispatched Vice President Kamala Harris to those countries, although her task was not to offer help to alleviate the harrowing conditions of life in the region, but to read the riot act to right-wing governments, telling them to take their marching orders from their American embassies and block refugees moving north.

Now Biden has embraced the position of Trump, doing everything but slap on a red MAGA cap when he came out to address the press. “For much too long,” he said, “the immigration system has been broken.” The result of protracted bipartisan negotiations in the Senate, he claimed, was “the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever.” The legislation was “the strongest border bill this country has ever seen.” It would include 100 more immigration judges to speed the processing of cases—and consequent mass deportations.

Biden boasted that the bill had the support of the Wall Street Journal, the US Chamber of Commerce, and even the Border Patrol union, a hotbed of fascist bigotry, which endorsed Donald Trump in the 2020 elections—and of course, of a substantial section of the Republican Party.

Biden spent most of his time berating the Republicans for blocking the anti-migrant provisions that they had insisted on in the negotiations with the White House—one Senate Democrat tweeted, “I’ve never seen anything like it… They literally demanded specific policy, got it, and then killed it.”

But the real concern of the White House is that the defeat of the bipartisan Senate deal likely closes the door on the supplemental military aid package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $17 billion for Israel, and nearly $10 billion for Taiwan. A Senate procedural vote on the military aid, without the border provisions, is set for Thursday morning, and is expected to fail.

Biden appeared before the press wearing a tie and a lapel pin both displaying the colors of the Ukrainian flag. He said of the Kiev regime, installed in a US-backed right-wing coup in 2014, “they’re in dire straits right now, defending themselves against the Russian onslaught and brutal conquest. The clock is ticking. Every week, every month that passes without new aid to Ukraine means fewer artillery shells, fewer air defense systems, fewer tools for Ukraine to defend itself against this Russian onslaught. Just what Putin wants.”

He added the claim that the bill would provide funds urgently needed for Israel to “defend itself,” that is, intensify the genocidal slaughter in Gaza, financed by the US and carried out with US-supplied weapons.

The pro-Democratic Party media celebrated Biden’s new line of attack on Trump and the Republicans. A headline in the New York Times read, “Trump’s Border Intervention Gives Biden a Chance to Shift from Defense to Offense.”

The shift to the right exposes the pseudo-left supporters of Biden in the Democratic Socialists of America, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Less than three years ago, the New York City congresswoman denounced anyone on the left who criticized the new Democratic administration, citing in particular Biden’s pledge of a far different policy towards migrants and asylum seekers than the brutal repression of the Trump administration.

Biden’s opponents were engaged in “a really privileged critique,” she claimed.

For anyone who brings that up we really have to ask ourselves, what is the message that you are sending to your Black and brown and undocumented members of your community, to your friends, when you say nothing has changed?… When you say ‘nothing has changed,’ you are calling the people who are now protected from deportation ‘no one.’ And we cannot allow for that in our movement.

Now, those whom Ocasio-Cortez said were “protected from deportation” by the Democratic-controlled White House are being served up to the Border Patrol in order to obtain the support of the fascist Republicans for Biden’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, which threatens humanity with the danger of nuclear war. Alongside that is the arming of the genocidal Netanyahu government in Israel, a policy backed to the hilt by both big business parties.

The pseudo-left has lined up behind the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, and has made only mealy-mouthed criticism of the US-Israel mass murder in Gaza. They will likewise find the necessary language to apologize for Biden’s embrace of the targeting of migrants and asylum seekers, the most vulnerable section of the working class.

All of this underscores the reality that in the 2024 presidential election, there is no “lesser evil” in the choice between the Republican fascist Trump and the Democratic warmonger Biden. Both candidates represent and defend the interests of a ferociously reactionary corporate ruling elite. Both candidates will employ the most violent and repressive methods, both within the United States and around the world.

The working class must prepare itself for a political struggle throughout this election year and beyond, to establish its political independence from the capitalist two-party system and mobilize its class strength on the basis of a socialist and revolutionary program.