Another side to ‘Middle-Class Joe’

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Hello everyone,

Making the rounds in conservative and progressive circles during the past week is a piece on a story from the progressive website/magazine, The Nation.

The lengthy analysisfrom former News Journal reporter and Philadelphia Inquirerbusiness columnist and north Wilmington resident Joe DiStefano tracks the many ways former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden aided the financial prospects of friends and associates.

It carries the provocative headline – Joe Biden’s Friends and Backers Come Out on Top – at the Expense of the Middle Class

The story bolsters the argument from Democratic Party progressives running for President that Biden does not live up to his image as “Middle-Class Joe.” Others in Delaware – who have long viewed Biden as a member of the pro-labor, big government crowd – are only too happy to point out the conflicts.

Some of the stories are familiar to members of the business community and longtime readers of the News Journal. During its heyday in Delaware, the comings and goings of the Biden family and various associates made their way into its pages, sometimes in civil court cases.

In the mix was credit card giant MBNA, now part of Bank of America. As you might remember, the bank’s presence loomed over Delaware for a time, thanks to its colorful and quirky CEO Charles Cawley. The Bidens clearly had relationships with MBNA that included son Hunter Biden having a “cup of coffee” in a brief stint at the company.

The failed Fisker deal is also mentioned, although Biden’s role in the affair remains unclear. He clearly had no power over the decision by the feds to pull the plug on the loan.

DiStefano homed in on the controversial decision by Biden during his long U.S. Senate career to support bankruptcy reforms that aided the MBNA and other bankers.

Those moves continue to bother progressives and led to a clash with Biden when rival presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (who at the time was a Harvard professor) appeared before a Senate committee.

In reading the piece, a few thoughts come to mind.

On one hand, a good word from Biden could help family members and associates.

By many accounts, Biden never appeared to personally benefit from his actions and introductions. Biden and wife Jill only recently came into money, thanks to income from speaking fees and books.

His son, the late Attorney General Beau Biden comes away as a heroic figure when he decided to go after abusive financial industry practices, something that was not in his dad’s wheelhouse. Beau’s legacy and his father’s grief have led some in the state to be more tolerant of Joe’s old school politics.

One interesting observation is DiStefano’s description of “good graft” as a way of doing political business.

Good graft is a dark side of the Delaware Way that focuses on personal relationships and the ability to get things done through compromise. Along the way, some people and businesses end up as winners.

In the blue portion of Delaware, Biden’s actions are likely to be viewed by many, including some progressives, as chump change when compared to revelations we read about every day.

Click here for the link to the story.

Enjoy your Tuesday. This newsletter returns tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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