THE HUTCHINSON REPORT: Stark contrasts between Biden, Trump persist

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Contributing Columnist

Every president who ever sat in the Oval Office and aspired for a second term says the same thing. 

If they are re-elected for a second term, they will finish the job they started the first go round. 

President Joe Biden is no different. Anywhere and everywhere he goes on the 2024 campaign trail he implores voters to re-elect him. He promises he will finish what he started in his first term. 

This is the second in a two-part series on the Trump-Biden presidential rematch based on an excerpt from Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s latest work, “The Showdown: Biden versus Trump Round 2” (Middle Passage Press).

That is a lofty promise. It is lofty because, by all presidential standards of accomplishment, Biden generally gets fairly high marks in shepherding legislation through on infrastructure, job expansion, student loan forgiveness and modest civil rights and voting rights enhancements. 

Yet most polls have shown through much of the 2024 presidential campaign that Biden’s stellar legislative and administrative record does not translate into voter contentment with his accomplishments. Many voice great displeasure at Biden’s performance and see no connection to his accomplishments or their well-being. That is an ominous warning that his sterling record won’t guarantee that he’ll beat Donald Trump.

Even without the knockdown drag-out battle with Trump, Biden’s bucket list of legislative and administrative to-do lists is gargantuan. They include reining in costs of prescription drugs, boosting child care funding and programs, boosting community colleges, the enactment of comprehensive gun control legislation, getting a firm handle on immigration and the border, and the varied proposals on police reform, and voting rights reform. The thorniest is to fulfill his pledge to make abortion open and accessible to all. 

Biden showed a deft legislative hand during his first term in getting a deeply fractured Congress to pass a significant part of his legislative agenda. However, there were no signs in 2024 that a Congress either controlled by the Republican Party or with a razor-thin Democratic majority would be any more cooperative and collegial. 

Biden knows as presidents in the past quickly discovered that the only sure way to get the bulk of his legislative agenda enacted is for their party to firmly control both houses of Congress. In 2024, that party will have to be the Democrats.

What makes Biden’s chore even more of an uphill climb is that even with Democrats in control of Congress, several of his proposals always stirred controversy and division. There are three in particular. 

One is taxes. Biden repeatedly promises at virtually every turn that he would make the wealthy start paying their fairer share of the taxes. 

That is a good populist-sounding pledge. However, no matter who controls Congress, major corporations, banks and the super-rich always manage to stymie massive tax overhauls that target them. Or at best, they successfully lobby for watered-down tax hikes. 

Biden tried to do a slight end around the entrenched opposition by slapping the less catchy offensive populist sounding “billionaire minimum income tax” label on his proposal. It would impose a 25% minimum tax on the super-rich.

The second is a tough gun control law. Biden pecked around the edge with executive orders that placed narrowly limited checks on gun access. But that did nothing to tackle the major requirement which was a ban on possession of assault weapons. 

Biden made the obligatory call for that. Predictably it went nowhere. The powerhouse National Rifle Association, backed by tens of millions of gun owners, anti-gun control advocates, Republican politicians and a not inconsiderable number of Democrats, repeatedly said no. 

The third flashpoint issue is immigration reform. Biden was under intense fire during the 2024 campaign to take harder measures to stop the flood of illegal immigrants into the country. More specifically, that means getting control of the border. 

He must do two things to dampen down the furor. He’ll have to convince Congress to enact a system for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the country that is fair and workable. At the same time, he’ll have to get tough on border enforcement. 

That includes deportation of those who commit crimes or are security threats. One without the other has no chance of winning any Republican concessions on his proposals for illegal immigration legislation. 

The other daunting issue is abortion rights. Biden reiterates the pledge that if reelected he will quickly put on the legislative table legislation that will ensure the right to abortion for all women. As with voting rights, a protective law for abortion will be roundly opposed by Republicans and certainly Trump.

Again, it will take a solid Democratic majority in both Houses for Biden to make any headway on those proposals. Given the hard, unyielding division and rigid line in the sand Republicans place on those issues, the prospect of any action will always be extremely problematic at best.

Biden’s table will groan with troubling and contentious domestic and foreign policy issues and problems, Still, he has a saving grace. That is his nemesis, Trump. If re-elected, he’ll face the same problems and concerns. 

That’s where the similarity ends. Trump makes clear that he’ll do everything far different than Biden on every one of these issues. The contrast between the two could not be more stark.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. The new YouTube documentary “American Journalist” chronicles his decades long writing and activism. He also is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.