by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Biden’s third run for the White House was successful because of who he is not. He won the primary by not being Bernie Sanders and the general by not being Donald Trump. Rather than focus on his proposals or experience, Biden won the nomination and presidency by making each election a referendum on his opponent. He convinced Democratic primary voters, especially African Americans, that Bernie was too liberal, and he convinced suburban swing voters that Trump was too erratic. Voters embraced the genial veteran lawmaker who promised a return to normalcy, bipartisanship, and incremental change as he focused on the COVID health crisis and the resulting economic slowdown.
Candidate Biden rejected progressive positions like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, packing the Supreme Court, and ending the filibuster as too extreme. But President Biden has explicitly embraced President Obama’s desire to be transformational. Whereas the latter cited Reagan as his model, given the magnitude, if not the direction, of the Republican president’s impact, historians and pundits are already comparing Biden to liberal icons FDR and LBJ. …
… In his first big move, Biden pushed for a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. But very little of the bill’s spending was directed at public health. The supposed “relief” included welfare provisions like expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies and a refundable child tax credit that Democrats hope to make permanent. The bill included other unrelated provisions such as an $86 billion pension bailout for unions, though the Senate parliamentarian — asked to weigh in on rules for passing bills through the reconciliation procedure — barred the inclusion of a $15 federal minimum wage and a $140 million California subway earmark. Meanwhile, $1 trillion from previous relief bills passed under Trump was still unspent. And the United States will spend $5 trillion, or $43,000 per household, on COVID, an amount that dwarfs what other countries have spent and what America has spent on previous crises.