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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Biden strays from old guard


President’s early agenda more liberal than expected

When U.S. President Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee for the 2020 election, the party was conveying a message that they were aiming for a return to politics as normal. 

The former vice president represented an old guard of moderate Democrats who championed bipartisanship and free-market capitalism. The party believed that after four tumultuous years of former U.S. President Donald Trump, a familiar face was exactly what the country was looking for, and the results of the 2020 election proved them right.

Despite this promise for a return to normalcy in Washington during his campaign, President Biden’s first two and a half months as president have been far less moderate than his political career would have led voters to expect. President Biden entered his first term as president just as he entered his first term as vice president: in the middle of an economic recession. 

To address the recession of 2009, former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Vice President Biden shepherded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through Congress. It was a piece of fiscal legislation that injected roughly $800 billion in stimulus into the American economy. 

The bill was effective and ultimately led to long periods of economic growth during the latter years of the Obama administration. However, today many economists argue that the stimulus package of 2009 was too small, and because of this, the recovery lagged—leaving people without jobs and without income for longer than needed. 

One reason as to why the stimulus package of 2009 was smaller than needed was a valiant effort on behalf of establishment Democrats and Obama to reach across the aisle and gain bipartisan support for the bill. Yet, despite dwindling down the provisions within the bill to appease Republicans, the ultimate version signed into law received next to no Republican support. 

Having this experience leading economic recoveries, and understanding the politics behind passing large stimulus bills, President Biden made his first major legislative goal to pass his American Rescue Plan. The bill was a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that aimed to catalyze a return to normal life and a normal economy for the American people. When the bill was still in Congress, President Biden espoused his plan to negotiate with Republicans on provisions and gain their support in the process. 

I believe that President Biden—having experienced the damage such negotiations can do to a bill—was playing this bipartisanship for public spectacle. Instead, the bill passed in the Senate with zero Republican votes, and most of the negotiations were done with moderate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. This led to the bill being signed into law while remaining largely unchanged from when it was first proposed.

This quasi-bipartisan politics is a product of Trumpism and the Tea Party years before, and I believe President Biden understood that. I also believe that the president understands that the U.S. needs a shift towards Keynesian economics and a stark shift away from trickle-down economics. 

This is precisely what the American Rescue Plan is: a Keynesian injection of stimulus into the economy, and an investment in the lower and middle classes of America. By aiming to curb unemployment and child poverty and directly putting money into the pockets of the spending class of Americans, the American Rescue Plan is a landmark piece of liberal economic legislation. 

The president, having signed the American Rescue Plan, is now focused on passing The American Jobs Plan. This proposal requests $2 trillion in government spending over a period of eight years to revamp the nation’s infrastructure. Clearly, President Biden is quickly becoming one of the most economically liberal presidents in modern history. Just in his first two and a half months, he has called for nearly $4 trillion in government funding, most of which is focused on enabling the lower class and middle class to gain employment, spend their money and obtain better government services. 

This type of economic policy is diametrically opposed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Republicans in the early years of the Trump presidency. Furthermore, President Biden plans on reversing some of these Trump-era economic deregulations to fund his own domestic agenda. For example, he has proposed raising the corporate tax rate, along with stopping companies such as Amazon or Apple from moving profits offshores to help fund his American Jobs Plan.

When elected, analysts predicted that President Biden would be a moderate Democrat who merely oversaw a return to a “normal” Washington, yet President Biden doesn’t seem to plan on being a stop-gap president. So far, he has instituted one of the most liberal economic agendas in recent American history and has seemingly shifted from his moderate days as a senator. By no means is President Biden as liberal as Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but I believe the early days of his presidency have shown the American people that an old politician can adopt modern policies. 

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