Biden's good intentions really say 'Let them eat cake'

Biden's good intentions really say 'Let them eat cake'
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When Marie Antoinette learned that the peasants in France had no bread and were starving, legend has it that she cavalierly threw out a line that not only has survived several centuries but also elevated her to a special place in the hall of fame for insensitive oafs. “Let them eat cake,” she’s alleged to have said, though there’s no record that she actually uttered those words — and there’s a good chance she never did. 

But whether she did or not, whether anyone actually said those words or not, they have come to symbolize a callous disregard for the less fortunate, words easily uttered by someone living in a palace who has all the food he or she could ever want.

And so when, with a stroke of a pen, President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE signed an executive order that cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, costing thousands of blue-collar workers the jobs they needed to pay their bills, it had a Marie Antoinette air to the whole thing.


Not to worry, they were told. You’ll get new jobs. Better jobs. Cleaner jobs. Just wait and see. You have no bread, you say? Then just eat cake.

John KerryJohn KerryBiden's climate policies: Adrift in economic and scientific fantasyland The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Watch live: John Kerry testifies on climate change MORE, Biden’s “climate czar,” says that “What President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels.”

That’s easier said than done. Most solar panels are made in China. Besides, what are these pipeline workers supposed to do until they get their new, clean, high-paying jobs? Wouldn’t it have made more sense if President Biden hadn’t canceled the pipeline until those new jobs became a reality, and not simply something that an aristocrat such as John Kerry could promise without worrying about losing his own job?

In the meantime, those workers have to figure out what to do. And so do the folks in small towns along the previously planned route of the pipeline who ran mom-and-pop diners where the workers had their meals, or the people who operated small hotels where the workers stayed while they were on the job. 

Biden likes to portray himself as “Middle-class Joe,” just a regular guy who cares about “working people.” But he sacrificed those working people because he had a debt to pay to the left wing of his party that helped him win the election. Climate change was their No. 1 priority — not the wellbeing of blue-collar workers, the kind of people they supposedly care so much about.


Sorry, but “Let them eat cake” keeps popping into my head.

And then there’s the president’s desire for legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

This, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would take about 900,000 Americans out of poverty. So far so good. But it also would result in a loss of about 1.4 million jobs. Did Blue-collar Joe think about that before he threw another bone to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma MORE (I-Vt.) and his fellow progressives?

Young and unskilled workers would be the primary victims of a higher minimum wage. Big corporations can afford to pay workers the higher amount, if they aren’t paying at least $15 an hour already. But small businesses are another story: A lot of those businesses operate on very slim margins and would have to fire low-skilled workers or never hire them in the first place. What about them? 

Marie Antoinette, if she ever spoke those famous words, may not really have been insensitive to her fellow countrymen who were suffering; maybe she simply was too dense to understand the implications of what she was saying. Maybe she just didn’t know better.

Maybe that’s true of President Biden, too. Maybe he doesn’t really understand how many people he’s hurting with his good intentions. 

But maybe he should. Maybe he should think twice before giving in to the progressives who won’t be losing their jobs, their livelihoods, for what they like to call “the greater good.”

“Let them eat cake” has become synonymous with clueless upper-crust types such as the French queen who lived in Versailles. But what’s Joe Biden’s excuse? He grew up in blue-collar Scranton. It’s not enough to claim he cares about the kind of people who work on pipelines or wash dishes or sell cupcakes and cigarettes at convenience stores in out-of-the-way towns all across Middle America.

I’m sure our new president means well. But good intentions don’t pay the bills — literally.

Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years, and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.