US President Joe Biden is moving America leftward big time. If his tax and spending proposals, and social justice actions become law, America would be forever transformed and unrecognisable as the country that spearheaded merit-based private capitalism to uplift world economies.
Although former President Trump injected nearly $4 trillion in deficit spending as Covid relief to help Americans, Biden pushed through another massive $1.9 trillion emergency Covid Bill. Undaunted, Biden announced yet another huge spend plan, a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal that rewards unionised labour, his most ardent voting bloc. Most Indian Americans earn too much to get Covid relief money and do not work in union jobs, so they benefit little from all this spending.
Biden wants to return America’s tax rates to the Obama-Biden years, inflicting huge tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals, including Indian Americans, the most successful ethnic diaspora in the United States. Indian small businesses, which flourished under Trump’s policies, will get hit especially hard.
To Biden, identity is everything. But many Indian Americans, who left India in part because India continues to nurse decades-old reservations policies, cringe at this extraordinary focus on race and gender. They arrived in America because their merit and work ethic promised opportunity, and recoil when Democrats somehow view Indians’ successes as privilege.
Indian American children work hard to maintain good grades in school, serve communities, and score high on admissions tests. Yet, they are often turned away at the most elite colleges as universities, chasing social justice goals, prefer offering seats to “disadvantaged” students with far lower academic profiles who “show promise” and have “overcome adversity,” looser standards that do not predict college success. The Trump administration had brought a lawsuit against Yale charging that its admission practices discriminate against Asian Americans. In a huge blow to Indian Americans who voted for Biden-Harris, Biden dropped the lawsuit.
Millions of H-1B families see no chance of relief as their children age out of their dependent status. This is a heart-breaking issue as children brought legally to America when they were young did everything right. But when they turn 21, they are forced to convert to student visas to continue staying in the only country that they know. Later, they have to struggle to get H-1B visas or else face the risk of being sent to India, a country about which they know little. If they do get H-1B visas, they have to join the line at the very back. Experts estimate that unless laws change, it takes 70-80 years for someone in line to get their green cards.
Biden pushed through a Bill in the House to provide work authorization to these children and allow them to stay on their parents’ H-1B applications, but by including his proposals along with relief for children who were brought into America illegally, the Bill suddenly faces defeat in the 50-50 Senate. Media coverage about Biden’s disastrous handling at the southern border has sucked away the oxygen from the H-1B children story. Republicans and even some Democrats do not want to provide amnesty to anyone when the border is so porous and thousands pour into the country every day.
Indians wearily ask why they should always be penalised when they do everything according to the law, while those who break the law always seem to get all the attention.
Even leftist comedian Bill Maher quipped: “There’s a progressive trend now to sacrifice merit for equity.” For many Indian Americans who have accomplished stellar successes in careers and business, not because of being a minority, but despite being one and overcoming long odds, Maher’s point painfully drives home.
The writer is Managing Director, Rao Advisors LLC, US