February 24 marks the one-year anniversary of the Russia–Ukraine war, and in the past year, the US Congress has approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, working people in the US are in dire economic straits, and desperately need relief from their government. When US President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union Address in early February, over 160 million people—almost half of the nation’s population—reported having trouble paying weekly expenses. The cost of living had jumped by 8% while wages had only increased by 4% in the past year. Yet, throughout the war in Ukraine, Biden cut funding at home where it was needed most, while tens of billions were diverted to lengthen the proxy war abroad.
The people need healthcare, not war
In June of last year, Biden reaffirmed his decision to enact the highest Medicare premium hikes in US history, from USD $148.50 to USD $170.10. Medicare is the government health insurance program for those people in the US aged 65 and older. This price hike was made as the Biden administration announced an 8.5% hike in payments to private insurance companies who participate in Medicare Advantage, a program which diverts Medicare money to private insurers. Biden’s payout to private insurers comes after Biden himself raked in $47 million from healthcare executives during his 2020 campaign for president.
Instead of subsidizing healthcare costs for the people of the US, Biden subsidized private health insurance companies. In September 2022, Biden announced a modest decrease in premiums, yet they still remain at $165 for 2023.
The US Congress has also failed to adequately fund COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, putting the country’s pandemic response in jeopardy this winter. COVID-19 has devastated the population of the US, undoing 26 years of progress on life expectancy by decreasing the average lifespan to 76.1 years in 2021.
Biden’s failure on student loans
Biden’s student debt cancellation program, which he announced on August 24, 2002 and was swiftly shut down by Republicans, is headed to the Supreme Court. However, even before the program was formally announced, which would have forgiven up to USD$20,000 in federal student loans for certain people who qualified, Biden was aiming low. In April of 2022, months before Biden announced his forgiveness program, the president declared that he was not looking at canceling USD$50,000 in federal student loans, and he was looking at how to cut off eligibility for those who made above a certain income.
But Republicans are now also challenging Biden’s very limited student loan proposal in terms of cost. Biden’s plan would “to deprive the Nation of nearly half a trillion dollars,” Republican senators write, filing briefs with the Supreme Court in an effort to influence the Court’s decision. Meanwhile, all but four Senate Republicans voted in favor of the most recent USD $858 billion defense budget.
Last year, the federal Education Department took cancer patient Heather Smart to court after Smart filed for bankruptcy when her diagnosis left her unable to work due to aggressive, expensive treatments. While the Biden Administration has since changed bankruptcy rules to make it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, Smart’s battle with the government over USD $95,000 in student loans is astonishing when compared to the amount spent on war abroad.