When President Biden delivers a joint address to Congress on Wednesday evening, he won’t just be advocating specific policies. He’ll be making the case that Americans want bigger government.
The Biden bet is that the public has warmed to the idea of a more interventionist government — partly because of the crisis foisted on the nation by COVID-19, but also because people are hungry for solutions to longer-term problems, from student debt and income inequality to racial justice and climate change.
There is some polling that backs up Biden’s case. The president is himself riding high in the polls, especially in relation to his handling of the pandemic.
But Americans have historically been much more resistant to activist government than their counterparts in Western Europe. The concepts of rugged individualism and personal responsibility are deeply embedded here, in contrast to the European emphasis on social cohesion and a stronger safety net.
A generation ago, then-President Clinton seemed to endorse a new, market-friendly orthodoxy as he embraced financial deregulation and limits on welfare benefits.
“The era of big government is over,” Clinton famously declared in his 1996 State of the Union address.
As a senator, Biden would have been in the audience that night. Now, as president, Biden is singing a different tune — one that he hopes is more harmonious with the moment.
The signature legislative achievement of Biden’s first 100 days was his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. He has also pushed an initial $2.3 trillion infrastructure program, dealing mainly with traditional measures like roads and bridges, as well as vastly increased spending on green causes.
On Wednesday, Biden is expected to make the case for another deluge of spending, this time on social infrastructure. Tuition-free community college, paid leave and national child care are thought to be among his priorities. The proposal would be paid for primarily through increased taxes on high earners.
Republicans have blasted away at all these programs, arguing that they include measures that are unrelated to the problems the nation is facing. The GOP contends each proposal is a Trojan horse, being used to sneak Democratic priorities into legislation while the public is absorbed with the pandemic.
But Biden thinks the political danger lies in doing too little, not too much.
An often-cited salutary example is the stimulus package then-President Obama pushed through early in his first term, as the nation battled the financial crisis. In retrospect, many liberals believe Obama shrank that measure too much, in search of bipartisan support that proved negligible.
Democratic strategist Paul Maslin argued that the three major tasks facing Biden were beating back the pandemic, calming public fears about its long-term impact and ameliorating its negative economic effects.
“The government’s role is a big part in all three of those things, and I think generally he has public support,” Maslin said.
Biden’s first 100 days in office have been aggressive on policy, but subdued on style.
Biden, a 78-year-old former vice president and centrist senator who was far from the first choice of most progressives in the 2020 Democratic primary, has gone big on policy, seeking to reshape the economy and social safety net amid a historic pandemic.
He’s sought to undo former President Trump’s agenda, issuing executive actions from Day One to do away with his predecessor’s wall on the southern border and travel ban, among many other issues.
While pushing a vaccination effort to open the economy and end the pandemic, he’s also been aggressive with legislation, winning passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and setting up measures on infrastructure, child care, free community college and other issues that would total more than $3 trillion.
But while Biden’s governing approach has been assertive, his style has been much more relaxed, particularly compared to his predecessor’s stream-of-conscious social media musings and impromptu sessions with reporters.
With semiregular speeches, few news interviews and no unscripted tweets, Biden has fashioned himself the foil of the previous president.
“He’s a fairly calm, rational person and he is a thoughtful person and he just is the antithesis, I think, of Donald Trump in terms of persona and style,” said Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. “I think that has come across and calmed the country.”
Polls suggest it has so far, as Biden’s honeymoon is ongoing judging by his approval ratings.
Sixty-four percent of American adults approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus and 65 percent support the $1.9 trillion relief package he signed into law in March, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
A slimmer 52 percent majority of adults approve of Biden’s job overall — higher than Trump at this point in his presidency but lower than his other predecessors.
“The only issues that have really mattered in the last 100 days are the pandemic and its effects on the economy,” said veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “President Biden has focused most of his attention on those problems and has made substantial progress on both.”
“That said, there are numerous other issues lurking beneath the surface, not the least of which is he ran as a unifying candidate who would govern in a bipartisan way and he has governed by pushing a purely partisan agenda through a very narrow partisan majority in Congress,” Ayres continued. “History suggests that following that course of action creates a backlash in the next midterm election.”
Biden campaigned as a moderate who could work with Republicans to get things done but has not been able to get GOP lawmakers behind his proposals.
Democrats were happy that Biden, recognizing the urgency of the moment, didn’t wait for Republicans to come around to support the coronavirus relief bill before passing it with only Democratic support using budget reconciliation.
“Going in, my concern was that he was going to spend too much time negotiating with Sen. [Mitch] McConnell, at a time when cutting deals with Sen. McConnell was impossible,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “I am absolutely convinced that if the Republicans were serious, they would find a willing negotiating partner in the president and his team, but he’s not willing to waste time while they play political games.”
But using the same strategy again carries political risk for the president.
The Post-ABC poll found that 60 percent of adults say they would rather see Biden try to win support from Republicans by making major changes to his proposals, versus 30 percent who would prefer he try to enact his ideas without major changes even if it means not getting GOP support.
Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure and climate package last month and is on the cusp of proposing another $1 trillion in spending on child care, education and paid family leave that he is proposing to pay for with tax hikes.
He’ll either need to find a way to pass them with GOP support — which would require significant change — or get Democrats behind their own package.
Biden is selling his big spending with a promise to tax the wealthy
Well, you folks need to do some math
There isn't enough wealthy people to pay those massive spending bills
Spending is always easy to sell so long as you are spending some body else's money
Well there isn't enough money no matter what Biden says
So guess what??? Extra taxes on gas, other sales tax increases and still a lot of printing
But people love to spend other people's money. Sadly nobody will look in the wood pile for money that doesn't exist
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday pronounced President Biden’s first 100 days a massive disappointment and accused the president of breaking his campaign promise to bring the nation together in the wake of a tumultuous 2020.
McConnell ticked through what has become a familiar list of Republican grievances with Biden: his decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline; passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan without any Republican votes; introduction of H.R. 1, a Democratic proposal to overhaul the nation’s election laws; the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan; and his handling of the migrant surge at the southern border.
“President Biden pledged he would be ‘A president for all Americans’ with plans to repair, restore and heal,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, noting that Congress remains closely divided with a 50-50 Senate and a slim Democratic majority in the House.
“But the first hundred days have left much to be desired,” McConnell said. “Over a few short months, the Biden administration seems to have given up on selling actual unity in favor of catnip for their liberal base, covered with a hefty coat of false advertising.”
The remarks came the day the White House unveiled Biden's latest legislative proposal, a $1.8 trillion effort to provide free community college and prekindergarten, child care and paid leave to American workers and families. It would also raise taxes on the wealthiest households.
McConnell said Democrats seem to be racing to pass as many of their large and expensive policy priorities before losing control of the House or Senate in 2022.
“Behind President Biden’s familiar face, it’s like the most radical Washington Democrats have been handed the keys, and they’re trying to speed as far left as they can possibly go before American voters ask for their car back,” he said.
McConnell took aim at Biden’s handling of the surge of migrants crossing the southern border, and his decision to reverse the Trump-era policy requiring 70,000 asylum applicants to wait outside the U.S. while their requests for safe harbor are processed, allowing thousands to say in the United States while their cases move through the courts.
“Democrats have decidedly avoided taking ownership of the results of their own campaign rhetoric on immigration. Reckless mixed messaging has come home to roost in the form of a humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border,” he said.
McConnell pointed to reports of “soaring numbers of migrants” and “some wearing Biden campaign shirts” to argue that Biden’s election has encouraged more migrants to attempt crossing the border.
“Yet through it all, the White House’s foremost concern seems to have been to avoid calling this what it is: a crisis,” the GOP leader said.
Senate Republicans see Biden’s handling of immigration as one of their best weapons in the 2022 midterm election, buoyed by recent polls showing Biden’s approval rating on the issue is significantly lower than his marks on addressing the pandemic and the economy.
McConnell slapped Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan as “another multitrillion-dollar smorgasbord of liberal social engineering” and accused the president of misleading the public about where it would put much of its funding.
“It’s being sold as a serious effort to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. It’s a pretty brazen misdirection. At both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Democrats have chosen to live in an alternate universe where both the campaign promises they made and the mandate the American people delivered were completely different than what happened here on planet Earth,” he said.
And the president continues to issue directives that are strangely out of step with the science,” he added, pointing to Biden’s prediction that if Americans carefully follow CDC guidelines they may be able to enjoy small outdoor gatherings on July 4.
McConnell argued that CDC guidance already says such gatherings are now safe.
The GOP leader then assailed Biden for ordering “a hasty, total withdrawal from Afghanistan” and proposing only a 1.6 percent increase in defense spending while supporting a 16 percent increase for nondefense domestic programs.
He said Biden’s spending priorities failed to focus on growing competition from Russia and China.
metmike: While most of this is true, it's obviously just politics. Though I disagree with him on Afghanistan. Glad he finally pulled us out of there! On Covid, Biden intentionally told us it would be so much worse than what it is so that he could claim that it was him and his policies that caused it to get so much better. See my prove on that on the next page.
This was a massive COVID scam by Biden right after he took over and I called him out immediately and now we can see it clearly.
The sad thing is that he blatantly lied to us about COVID, very intentionally back in January and February, as part of a marketing scheme to make himself look good in March/April on ward. This is happening exactly like that.
And is documented with objective facts here:
The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, written along the outline of Biden’s proposal, dwarfs FDR’s New Deal in terms of total cost to the American taxpayer. Democrats rammed the measure through Congress without any Republican support, proving Biden was the partisan that critics had warned about.
The Democratic president’s proposed infrastructure measures—the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan—would bring the total price tag to an estimated $5.4 trillion, while ushering in a wave of welfare programs unseen since the introduction of Medicare and food stamps. The cost splits up to more than $43,000 per household and more than the combined wealth of all the billionaires in America. Democrats could enact both plans without any Republican support, by using, for the first time ever, the reconciliation process more than once in a budget year.
The fiscal scale and radical nature of the agenda, coupled with the razor-thin House and Senate majorities the Democrats are using to implement it, are exerting pressure on an American system of governance that has historically demanded a measure of bipartisanship in order to enact transformative change.
“A Senate evenly split between both parties and a bare Democratic House majority are hardly a mandate to ‘go it alone,’” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a Trump critic and one of the few Republicans seeking a bipartisan solution on infrastructure, wrote on Twitter.
Democrats argue that pushing the pandemic stimulus through without Republican support was necessary to help Americans struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic. They say that some provisions of the bill, including the expansion of Obamacare, were long overdue. Democrats predict that the child tax credit, which will amount to a monthly cash payment for most families beginning in July, could cut child poverty in half.
While testing the system’s limits, Biden has thrown the weight of the presidency behind the radical transformation of the system itself. He backed the long-shot bid for D.C. statehood, which would hand the Democrats two seats in the Senate in the foreseeable future, expressed support for weakening or undoing the legislative filibuster, ordered a commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court around the time fellow Democrats introduced legislation to pack the bench, and said he would sign H.R. 1, a vast election reform bill that would, among other provisions, make mail voting universal in perpetuity.
“Mr. Biden knows his agenda is so radical, so extreme, that he cannot hope to pass it and keep it intact without first fundamentally changing the rules of the political game,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, wrote in a recent op-ed. “Consequently, he’s moving on all fronts to do just that.”
To the Democrats, the wave of change is just what the doctor ordered. Former President Bill Clinton called Biden’s performance so far “almost pitch-perfect” in word and deed.
“If we can produce positive results that cross those divides by lifting everybody, giving everybody a chance, then we have a chance to psychologically change,” Clinton told Deadline.
While ushering along a wave of social change via legislation, Biden has churned out a steady stream of paradigm-shifting executive orders and actions on matters ranging from critical race theory training for federal employees to rejoining the World Health Organization.
Some of the common themes among the five dozen executive actions during the president’s first 100 days in office were the reversals and revocations of Trump-era orders and the introduction of the quasi-Marxist “equity” ideology into virtually every aspect of government operations. “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” the title of Biden’s very first order, set the tone for the many that followed.
“I want to change the paradigm. We start to reward work, not just wealth. I want to change the paradigm,” Biden said during his first press conference.
What a president says is sometimes as consequential as what a president does. During Biden’s symbolic 100 days, this was exemplified by his comments on the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Biden spoke in favor of convicting Chauvin before the jury rendered its verdict and—after the jury decision was announced—indicted America itself as guilty of “systemic racism.”
the crisis on the southern border, which some experts say was triggered by Biden’s revocation of Trump-era immigration policies. Illegal aliens are crossing the border in numbers unseen in decades, forcing immigration authorities to overload shelters for housing detained minors. After weeks of avoidance, Biden finally called the situation a crisis earlier this month.
The White House has signaled that it intends to solve the crisis by investing in the countries the illegal aliens are fleeing from. Over the past two decades, the United States has spent billions in foreign aid to the nations in question.
Biden’s approval ratings have fluctuated between the high-40s and mid-50s during his first three months in office, according to Rasmussen, the only pollster conducting daily presidential approval surveys. The media may be contributing to that outcome. A recent Media Research Center study showed that evening news coverage of Biden was 59 percent positive during his first three months in office, compared to just 11 percent positive coverage during the same period in Trump’s presidency.