Joe Biden’s reputation as a defender of the blue-collar, lunch-bucket workers is a fake, a mere mask. When his help was needed to preserve thousands of union jobs while he was President Obama’s Vice President, he did virtually nothing.
In July 2009, General Motors’ Saturn plant (had been making cars since 1940s) closed as part of its bankruptcy/restructuring process. It was located near Wilmington, with a huge footprint of over 3 million square feet and employed thousands of workers, including many United Auto Workers members.
When Biden was on the ticket in 2008, many in Delaware hoped he would revitalize the plant and bring those jobs back. They were disappointed. In his eight years as VP, Biden did practically nothing to help reopen that plant. He had plenty of time, however, to play golf on the weekends at an upscale club in Delaware.
His inaction proves his “lunch bucket” persona is just a mask. Biden has never held a blue-collar job, going directly from a Catholic prep school to university, to law school, then to a law firm.
Regarding the Saturn plant, Obama and Biden tried to lure an electric automobile manufacturer (Fisker) to take over the site, lured by promises of tax credits and a large Energy Department loan. But Fisker went bankrupt. At that point, it seems Biden lost all interest in bringing jobs back to Delaware.
Next came a Chinese firm that bought Fisker’s assets in a bankruptcy sale in 2014, but it left the site vacant.
Finally, in 2017 a local commercial real estate firm purchased the site and aggressively marketed it.
In 2019 the site was bought by a Nevada developer that specializes in warehouse properties. Word on the street is the property will become an Amazon or Walmart warehouse, due to the site’s proximity to I-95, rail siding and Port of Wilmington access. Work is underway; the GM plant was demolished last year.
Biden’s inaction has, incidentally, been responsible for a Delaware state senate seat flipping to the GOP. Voters living near Saturn plant were so disgusted with Biden, they elected a Republican (Anthony Delcollo) to the state senate. His winning move: a campaign billboard towering over the rusting Saturn plant with this message: “Got Jobs?”
For the primary voters in Michigan who think Biden’s a blue-collar guy who has their back—it’s all a fake, a pose to get votes. As folks near the old Saturn plant can testify, when the chips are down and you need Biden, you can find him on the golf course.
Joanne Butler is a senior economics fellow at the Caesar Rodney Institute of Delaware.