Joe Biden came to the White House at a crucial moment in American history. We have become a country that is divided into two countries: a highly educated and wealthy country and a country left behind. Economic gaps exacerbated cultural and social gaps, creating an atmosphere of intense polarization, cultural hostility, alienation, bitterness and resentment.
As president, Biden had primarily financial means to try to fill this cold civil war. He defended three huge laws to build a more equal, fairer and more unified society.
All of these bills were written to pour money into the regions of poorly educated, not wealthy, left-behind countries. Adam Hersh, a visiting economist at the Economic Policy Institute, predicts that more than 80% of new jobs created by infrastructure planning do not require a college degree.
These huge proposals were a bold endeavor. Some thought it was too bold. Economist Larry Summers, for example, thought the stimulus was too big. It overstimulates the economy and can lead to inflation.
Larry is one of the most intelligent people I have ever known and I really admire. If I were an economics scholar, I might have agreed with him. But I’m a journalist who is devoted to sociology. For over a decade, I have covered countries that have been economically, socially and morally collapsed. I thought of one way to reverse it. It was to create a heated labor market that would supercharge the economy and raise wages at the bottom. If inflation was a by-product, that’s right. The trade-offs are worth it to prevent the country from bursting.
Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus has passed and has been a huge success. It has heated the overall economy. The Conference Board predicts real GDP growth of about 5% this quarter. The unemployment rate is declining. Retail sales are skyrocketing. About two-thirds of Americans feel that their households are in good financial condition.
But the best part is that profits are flowing down the ladder of education and income. In the first month of payment alone, the expanded child tax credit portion of the stimulus bill protected 3 million American children from poverty. Wages for hourly workers in the leisure and hospitality sector surged 13% in August compared to the previous year. By June, there were more non-agricultural jobs than at any other time in American history. Nowadays, workers have tremendous power.
The infrastructure bill just signed by Biden will increase US productivity over the next few years. As Morgan Stanley’s Ellen Zentner recently told economists, an increase in annual infrastructure spending of $ 100 billion could increase growth by about a tenth percentage point. This is important in an economy of our scale. Spending on federal infrastructure will account for about the same amount of annual GDP as Franklin Roosevelt’s average level during the New Deal.
But Summers was right. The stimulus has boosted inflation, along with the turmoil in all supply chains and labor shortages that are inevitable when exiting a pandemic. In addition, Americans are exhausted by the seemingly never-ending pandemic.
And they are taking it out to the Democratic Party. A recent ABC News / Washington Post poll found that voters now prefer 51% to 41% of Republican candidates in their district. This is the largest Republican lead since this poll began asking questions 40 years ago.
Biden’s efforts would look pretty bad if the president was judged by short-term popularity. But that’s a terrible measure. First-term presidents most often see the party hit in the interim period after taking office. This is especially true if the president has achieved great results. Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University, has investigated the trend of house popularity polls since 1953. In many cases, voters opposed the presidential party when the president succeeded in passing major laws (Republicans and Democrats). To give a recent example, see how Obamacare preceded the bombardment of democracy in 2010. People are distrustful of change. Success mobilizes opposition. In retrospect, these policies are often popular and even sacred.
The president is judged by history, not by the distractions and malaise of the moment. Did the Oval Office person tackle the current core issue? The Biden administration passes the test. Indeed, there was a failure — a shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan, a failure to abandon the cultural left-wing excess. But this administration is judged by whether it has reduced inequality, expanded opportunities, and laid an important foundation for greater national unity.
I’m doing it.
My fear isn’t that Democrats lose the mid-term — it’s definitely worth it. My fear is that Congressional Democrats will temporarily make great policies like expanded child tax credits to make budget figures look good. If they do, the upcoming Republican majority will simply revoke these policies.
If that happens, this is all in vain. Democrats will waste what was truly a series of historical achievements. Voters may judge the Democrats harshly next November, but if they act vigorously, history will judge them well.