Trump left the country in such a mess — an uncontrolled pandemic still killing thousands a day; a botched vaccine rollout; 11 million unemployed, tens of thousands of businesses closed or in bankruptcy — and now a Democrat, President Joe Biden, has to engineer a recovery. This is similar to what happened when Barack Obama took office in 2009: A Republican predecessor left the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Despite a pledge by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell to make Obama a “one-term president,” Obama managed to get a major stimulus package approved by Congress, and his administration pretty much saved the U.S. automobile industry. By the end of his second term, Obama had presided over an economy that saw 75 consecutive months of job growth.
Now we have another fine mess — created during a disastrous Republican administration — that a Democrat is expected to fix. Biden’s big plans for recovery have been given the thumbs-up by most analyses, including Moody’s, which sees the possibility of a return to pre-pandemic job levels by the fall of 2022.
But what are we hearing today? The so-called Moderate Republican senators who might have considered endorsing Biden’s $1.9 trillion disaster relief and stimulus are reluctant to support it. Some are calling it dead on arrival.
Look, you all know this by now: Republican policies do not work. Trickle-down tax cuts do not create jobs and do not spread wealth, and here’s an exhaustive study you can read about that from the London School of Economics. (“Major reforms reducing taxes on the rich lead to higher income inequality but do not have any significant effect on economic growth or unemployment.”) Republican presidents, including the sainted Ronald Reagan, have left larger deficits than they started with.
The current Republicans in Congress, who are now resisting Biden’s bold combination of disaster relief and stimulus, eagerly supported Trump’s huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich in 2017. Those tax cuts, through 2025, will add from $1 trillion to the $2 trillion to the national debt, according to the Tax Policy Center, and only a small percentage of companies told the National Association for Business Economics that the tax cuts sparked more hiring.
There is a huge difference between the two parties when it comes to economic policy — and it’s clear when we’re in crisis.
The Democratic Party needs to make the difference clear the rest of the time. It has failed to make the case that, across the country and across all demographics, it cares more about average Americans than the plutocrat-adoring Republicans do. That’s one of the reasons why the Democrats struggle to gain a majority in the Senate and barely have a majority in the House. I don’t see how the country can progress under the present Republican leadership, which embraces the failed policies of the past as well as Trump authoritarianism.
The Sun’s recent obituary for John Roemer, a Park School teacher and the former director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland, notes his conversion from a conservative trained to despise FDR’s New Deal to a citizen eager to see government that works for the greater good. “I had an animus toward the New Deal. I thought it was a watered-down version of authoritarian socialism,” John said in an interview in 2003. “[The New Dealers] were trying to help people who couldn’t help themselves. At that point I realized: `You know what, John? You’re actually a confirmed liberal.’ I’ve been a confirmed liberal ever since.”