Biden absolves himself of blame for widespread evictions

The Biden White House issued a statement Monday afternoon effectively disavowing any responsibility for the vast social misery its actions are helping to cause after allowing the federal eviction moratorium to expire over the weekend, exposing millions of hard-pressed renters to the risk of forcible eviction, loss of their belongings, and homelessness.

The statement on "eviction prevention efforts" acknowledges the devastating impact of mass evictions, especially "given the rising urgency of containing the spread of the Delta variant," which will spread like wildfire through homeless shelters, tent camps, and overcrowded apartments where multiple families will live doubled-up and tripled-up.

While pledging that "President Biden is taking extra steps to prevent Americans from facing the sorrow of eviction," the measures are essentially a laundry list of pleas for others to intervene. The remark seems like a barely veiled parody of apathy cloaked in political doublespeak.

Given that the anti-eviction order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was struck down by the right-wing majority on the US Supreme Court last September, Biden directs his own White House to discuss with other federal agencies “whether there are any other authorities to take additional actions to stop evictions.”

He wants state and municipal courts to put eviction proceedings on hold until renters and landlords can get help through Emergency Rental Assistance, a federal program that helps employees who have lost their employment due to the epidemic and are unable to pay their rent. Although $47 billion has been set aside for this initiative, only $3 billion has been distributed, owing to the sluggishness of state and municipal governments as well as landlords.

Biden calls on state and local governments to quit dragging their feet, but he doesn't explain why this can be anticipated, given the political opposition among capitalist politicians to do anything to help renters against landlords, who are a significant social interest in both parties.

The president requests that landlords "hold off on evictions for the next 30 days" and that "utilities providers collaborate with State and local governments... to prevent shutting off services for individuals behind in payments owing to the epidemic and at danger of eviction."

Biden, a fervent churchgoer, does not include a request that Satan chop off his claws and tail and make the lion lie down with the lamb, but he may as well do so as he implores landlords and energy providers to give their working-class clients a break.

This saga was accompanied by a round of finger-pointing among Democrats in Washington, with the White House and congressional leaders criticizing one another, and various factions of the House Democrats implying that their inner-party opponents are to blame for the failure to pass legislation by the Supreme Court-imposed deadline of July 31.

It is undoubtedly true, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Representative Cori Bush, and others claim, that a significant number of “moderate,” i.e., right-wing House Democrats refused to support a bill introduced by House leadership on Friday morning to extend the eviction moratorium until October 18. During the August congressional break, several of them threatened to board aircraft to return to their districts rather than allow the legislation to be voted on.

However, Ocasio-Cortez, Bush, and others on the Democratic Party's "left" have spent their political careers defending the right-wing party of imperialism and Wall Street as a vehicle for social transformation. They can't help but be surprised that their coworkers care more about landlords than renters who are going to be evicted.