Democratic Senator Joe Manchin seized news headlines this past week after he announced that he wouldn’t support any legislation on the climate crisis in budget reconciliation bills in the Senate. Because of the Democrats’ razor-thin rule of the Senate, Manchin’s opposition met with a torrent of attacks from climate activists who claimed that he was going to doom the Earth.
But Manchin’s denial of the climate crisis, while insane, is only a reflection of the insanity of this society. Biden’s climate plan, based on subsidies for electric vehicles and private energy companies, would not be enough even to slow the climate crisis. And even as Biden claims that he supports action against global heating, he just travelled to Saudi Arabia to urge its rulers to increase their oil production. Biden has also opened up more federal lands for oil and gas extraction. Biden’s ineffective climate action and Manchin not supporting any legislation around the climate crisis are just two expressions of the inability of capitalism to solve the climate crisis it has created.
And the true priorities of capitalism were shown this same week. Hidden beneath the political and media chatter about Manchin’s announcement was the actual point of agreement between Manchin, other Democrats, and Republicans: the military budget. While Manchin and the Democrats were arguing over their budget reconciliation bill, the House of Representatives approved the largest military budget in years, devoting $840 billion to the military. Spending money on the climate crisis or health, education, or housing for the poor may be controversial, but every politician agrees on the importance of money for the weapons companies and more war.
A large military budget is not only a huge subsidy to U.S. corporations but helps to ensure military and economic dominance of U.S. capitalists around the globe. But devoting even a pittance to solving the crises we face today directly because of the insane pursuit of profit will never be on the agenda for the major parties in the U.S. Why would they prioritize solving the problems their system creates? These parties will always have enough money for war and never enough for the Earth and the poor.