Viewpoint: Biden deserves high praise for economy that is booming for all

Karen Rubin
Karen Rubin, Viewpoint Columnist

Bipartisanship? Bah. Humbug.

Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell and the Congressional Republicans have declared unabashedly their sole priority is to sow chaos and obstruct any progress for the American people for the next 18 months when they fully well expect, through voter suppression, gerrymandering, control of election process, to take back both the House and Senate, effectively ending Biden’s presidency, and ultimately stealing the White House in 2024.

Imagine for a moment if the Republicans were in charge now. Americans would still be dying by the tens of thousands from COVID because Republicans would never have passed the American Rescue Plan (not a single one voted for it, though now they tout the benefits for their constituents).

There would not even be any discussion of any voting rights protections as Republican-dominated states passed hundreds of voter suppression laws or any accountability for Trump’s attempted coup.

There would be no plan to “Build Back Better,” taking steps to mitigate and reverse the ravages of climate change and global warming, while building an economy for the 21st century in which all Americans benefit.

There would not be any discussion to address surging gun violence, even though guns, which flew off shelves in record numbers in 2020, are killing at record rates. Criminal justice and police reform?

Are you kidding? Health care? Instead of reopening enrollment in Obamacare, as Biden did on his first day, the Republicans would have sat back as tens of thousands sickened with COVID, losing their jobs and their health care, suffered and went bankrupt.

Instead of an economy that is roaring back – to the extent workers are actually getting decades-overdue wage increases and can even be selective about which job to accept – with Republicans in charge you would have people still afraid to leave their houses – if they have houses still to live in because the Republicans would have made sure there were no protections against eviction.

Instead, travel – the leading indicator of robust consumer sentiment – is surging. As is consumer confidence.

The whole strategy of Republicans is to sow fear, insecurity and chaos.

You would think this would be enough to propel Democrats to even larger victories in the 2022 midterms. But voters’ memory is selective, even short-lived and all-too-easily subject to revisionism.

While telling Kentucky voters that they will get a ton of money – $4 billion from the federal government – which he boasted he did not vote for and would do everything possible to block infrastructure spending, too, so they won’t be getting any more money. “My advice is to spend it wisely because hopefully, this windfall doesn’t come along again.”

Somehow, this is supposed to be a winning argument. “But Republicans know they don’t actually have to have a “winning argument” or even deliver any progress to their voters.

They know they have all the mechanisms and tools and cogs to put into the election machinery, plus voter amnesia. They are depending upon the extraordinary gullibility – plainly on view with the masticization of the Big Lie – and eagerness to embrace hate and fear to excuse their own violent inclinations.

Obama made a mistake during his term in showing way too much sympathy for people’s suffering so failed to blow his own horn and take credit for the economic progress he made literally snatching the country from the abyss of Depression. But in so doing, he gave Republicans fertile ground in which to sow their discontent by fomenting their own story.

Biden seems to have learned that lesson, but even though he has been relatively modest (compared to Trump who would boast of the greatest this, that and any other thing), the improvements in people’s lives have been undeniable.

Biden’s success is not just because we have gotten past the worst of the coronavirus (no thanks to the Trumpers who are doing their best to perpetuate it), but all that he has done to bring the economy back – and under more equitable terms. Build Back Better is the mantra.

The economy added 5 million jobs in the first six months – the most of any administration in history in this timeframe. The Federal Reserve has upped its forecast of economic growth for the year to 7 percent – the strongest performance since the recovery from the double-dip recession of the early 1980s.

“But this good news is no accident,” the New York Times reported. “And now early evidence shows that the new, more generous economic framework — now being applied by the Biden administration in its own way — is being proved right again.”

The Times analysis shows that wealth is up but significantly, the difference between the top 1 percent and bottom 50 percent is narrower than during the last crisis.

“This will be the first recession where consumers across the earnings and wealth spectrum are emerging with a stronger financial position than they started with. Growth is booming and consumer confidence in June reached its highest level since February 2020.”

Delinquencies on consumer loans such as mortgages, auto loans and student loans fell, reflecting both cash support and policy efforts that provided temporary forbearance on some loan payments during the pandemic.

“Mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcies are at record lows. Consumers are spending money but are not taking on a lot of new debt and are holding on to a lot of savings,” the Times reported.

As Paul Krugman in the New York Times observed, “So yes, we are having another morning in America, and Biden deserves more credit for his good morning than Reagan ever did for his. And Joe Biden has every right to crow about it.”

In fact, unless Biden reminds people that such a strong rebound in the economy is not an “accident” or just the cycle or, even more absurdly as Republicans are now claiming (after denouncing poor jobs creation) that it is the result of the 2017 tax cuts– and most importantly, to point out that what is happening is the result of intentional policies to promote equity and climate sustainability – he will not be able to push through his Build Back Better agenda – the boldest infrastructure plan in history, contained in the American Jobs Plan or the American Families Plan.

And the Republicans will be able to enact their strategy of obstruction in order to prolong misery and suffering, expecting voters will take out their angst on the “Do Nothing” Democrats.

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