Biden’s biggest job now: Smash the economic argument End-shutdown
TomorrowJoe Biden’s State of the Union address turns three weeks And with the mind-blowing news cycle we’re all living with these days, that means most people have probably already forgotten what he said that night. So let me start by reminding you that it was a great speech from an economic and class perspective. I recently attended an event where I saw a couple dozen progressive economics pundits, and they were still palpably excited by Biden’s emphatic abandonment of neoliberal economics in favor of a focus on lifting up the middle classes and worker.
It is up to the president and his administration to maintain that momentum. For starters, you should certainly go to East Palestine, Ohio, to visit people. Yes, the criticism from the right that he cares more about Ukraine than Ohio is ridiculous. Ukraine is fucking important; I needed to be there as the anniversary of Putin’s invasion approached. His trip to Europe, both in kyiv and Warsaw, was probably the most important European trip of a president since Roosevelt went to Yalta. Half the people who shot you are probably secretly (or in some cases not so secretly) supporting Russia.
But now, Ohio waits. The president is really good at building empathic connections with people who have experienced loss or are going through worries; he should do well in that environment. But there is something far more important than local face-time: Biden should focus the country’s attention on the way Wall Street is tearing apart (literally) the freight rail industry. the new republicby Tim Noah cleverly described all the ways moneyed interests had hollowed out the industry last September at the time of the strike: workers got Dickensian working conditions, communities got massive resistance to reasonable regulation, and bigwigs got the highest profits ever. any industrial sector in the United States.
In an interview over the weekend with ABC’s David Muir, Biden mentioned, twice, that railroad companies make “tens of billions of dollars in profit.” The big four freight rail companies are making profits from about 50 percent (The average profit margin in American businesses is just under 10 percent.) And, of course, they’re spending a lot of that money on share buybacks to get even richer. They’re a great target, and making them bad is exactly a piece with the intermediate economy Biden is becoming the centerpiece of his political campaign. Taking a stand against America’s top-profit employer would send a strong signal that he says what he says about standing up for the little guy, and that he’s ready and willing to make some enemies.
In the meantime, here’s what we know Biden is doing this week: A White House official tells me Biden is going to Virginia Beach on Tuesday “to highlight how Republicans are threatening bankruptcy and economic catastrophe unless they can force” his soaked right winger. the labor agenda. Biden “will release his budget on March 9,” this official said, “and Republicans in Congress should provide that same transparency. The American people deserve to know what the Republicans are trying to cut, given that in countless previous budgets they have repeatedly proposed devastating cuts to essential programs like the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid that are lowering costs for tens of millions of Americans.” .
Obviously, the Republicans won’t offer any transparency beyond saying they’re going to cut all of that. Woke up spending by the Pentagon. They never tell the truth about their spending priorities, because they really only have one, or I guess now two. The only traditional spending priority of the Republican Party is to do as little as possible, especially when it comes to poor people, people of color, seniors living on tight budgets, and others without political power. The second priority is to militarize the border. Or is that it? I think deep down they would rather talk about the border than do anything about it.
Actually, the Republicans have already released a plan. he top headlines it generated announced that he will boldly protect our children from the evil trans agenda of the Democrats. More substantively, the chapter titles tell us what we need to know: “Securing freedom through deregulation”; “Creating Opportunities Through Tax Reform”; “Save Medicare” (be very nervous when you hear a Republican use the word “save” in that context); and “Make Social Security Solvent Again.” (Why not “Making”, Mr. Republican editor?)
That will also be a great fight to pick. Republicans have said, following Donald Trump, that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table. And they say they want to balance the budget in a hurry. Combining those two conditions will require, according to numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, 44 percent cuts to everything else. That’s impossible. What’s more, it would be wildly unpopular. They know it, that’s why they lie all the time. Biden and the Democrats have to play offense. Especially with a critical mass of Republicans in the House willing to default the country over the debt limit.
Biden is pointing his party in a big economic direction. But this is going to be a long fight, and victory is far from assured for one simple reason: Americans still believe that Republicans run the economy better.
I study these polls very closely. In every situation, whether a Democrat is president or a Republican, whether the economy is good or bad, respondents give Republicans an advantage of about seven to 15 points when asked which party better manages the economy.
This, I suppose, is because the Republicans are the party of business, so people think that if the majority of corporate top brass backs the Republicans, they must be better for business and therefore for society. economy. The facts point dramatically in the opposite direction. To take just one statistic that virtually no one in America knows about, let’s compare the rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average under Bush, Bush, and Trump versus Clinton and Obama (16 years each). The DJIA rose 26 percent among Republicans. Under the Democrats, it shot up 185 percent. Those are not typos. You can read more in this sense in this column I wrote for The Daily Beast before I came to TNR.
The middle economy should be the theme of Biden’s re-election campaign. And Biden and his party must change these poll results, this universal assumption about which party is better on the economy. If they can do that, and if the economy is in good shape next year, not only should it not be especially close in 2024, but the Democrats should be able to once again become the majority party in this country. And this time, without shaking hands with all the racist southerners, like Roosevelt did.