Joe Biden-And All the Criticism

The pollsters say his future prospects will be determined by Covid and inflation–two factors a President has little influence over. That’s what will determine the mid-terms and the Presidency in 2024.

So, it won’t be about the roaring economy. Leading economists estimate GDP growth for 2021 at 5.7% and 2022 at 4.1%. This compares to Trump era GDP for 2017, 2018, and 2019 of 2.3%, 3%, and 2.2% respectively—far short of the 4%+ Trump promised in his campaign, well below the Biden era GDP.

And it won’t be about the stock market. The S&P is up 25.82% YTD 2021. 

And it won’t be about wages, which have skyrocketed during Biden’s first year. Wages in accommodations and services are up a whopping +18.4%, information services 12.3%, finance and insurance 9.8%, retail trade 8.4%, health care and social assistance 6.3%, construction 5.7%, and on and on. 63% of private sector workers saw at least a 5% increase 2nd quarter 2021 vs 2nd quarter 2020. Wages under Trump had increased at about a 3% annual rate.

Inflation is estimated by S&P at 5.5% for 2021, 3.9% for 22, 2.7% for 23 and 2.3% for 24. As inflation subsides, the wage increases likely will not—they will sustain. So, workers who are complaining about gas prices will (a) get relief soon in 2022, and (b) should take note of their significant wage increases, which will continue in their paychecks, well beyond inflation subsiding. 

It won’t be about getting out of our longest foreign war, or about preserving world peace during his administration. 

It won’t be about turning a kind eye (vs. a blind one) to those in distress at our border.  

It won’t be about two historic pieces of legislation already enacted—the stimulus to deal with Covid relief and the infrastructure bill promised but not delivered by any previous administration (totaling $2.9 Trillion). These are historic legislative and reformist accomplishments exceeding anything done before, and bringing critical benefits to our people and our economy.

And it won’t be about President Biden’s refusal to blame our problems on government or on foreign countries or immigrants–a ridiculous claim which was believed by many who are not reading or doing any critical thinking.

There are abundant positives in the short time of Biden’s Presidency–some for which he should be credited and others Presidents usually claim, and often get undeserved credit for–such as the economy.

I never expected Joe Biden to be a charismatic President. I knew he was prone to gaffes. He is aging—you can see it in his hair, his face, and his walk. I never expected him to be perfect. Was Trump?

And, I never expected Republicans to do anything other than what they do—criticize every statement and action any Democratic President makes, exaggerate everything to the negative extreme, and claim the Democratic President should have solved problems for which they excused Republican Presidents as “having nothing to do with the President.”

Biden inherited a Covid crisis his predecessor handled poorly. He inherited a foreign war no predecessor had the courage to terminate. No one expected inflation to surge early on his Presidency, not even Jerome Powell. No one expected the Omicron variant to surface in Africa and race around the world.

It seems to this American that the real problems of the Biden Presidency are these: A divided and highly partisan Congress; a national distrust in government and institutions; white supremacy; nationalism; a heightened American pursuit of individualism (at the expense of the collective good); the relentless scheming of the Right to manipulate voting rights to their advantage; and the stream of criticism from the Right, example Fox News, in stoking public discontent and laying blame where it is not deserved.

Seems the likes of Fox have convinced the blue collar guy at the gas pump that he should be angry, that inflation is Joe Biden’s fault. Of course, there is no mention whatsoever of wages on Fox. I know. I watch to see what the ultra-Right is teaching the vulnerable.

I guess facts don’t count, and misinformation abounds.

No matter how 2022 and 2024 turn out, I believe this President will have one of the greatest Presidential legacies–one exceeding that of all the Presidents during my lifetime, with the possible exception of FDR and Lyndon Johnson. He’s achieved far more in one year than Trump did in four!

Build Back Better

Already, President Joe Biden has enacted two unprecedented pieces of legislation: The fiscal stimulus of 2020 and the Infrastructure Bill, a combined total of $2.9 Trillion in investment in the Covid impact on Americans and in our universally agreed aged and dangerous infrastructure. Administrations before Biden have been talking infrastructure needs for decades, but no one before has actually done anything. He’ll have a great legacy, even if only this is accomplished before the Congress makes its regular mid term shift to the opposition party.

Now pending is Build Back Better, which I predict will get enacted in 2022, in some form not radically different than already approved by the House of Representatives. This prediction stands, notwithstanding the position held by Senator Manchin.

This bill has the following major elements:

$555B fighting climate change—mostly tax credits for solar installations, plus 330,000 jobs to restore forests and wetlands

$400B for universal pre-k—for all 3 and 4 year olds

$200B for child tax credits—this is not a new benefit, but extends the expiration one more year

$200B for 4 weeks of paid leave—we are one of the few industrialized nations without one

$165B for health care

$150B for in-home health care

$150B for affordable housing–provides assistance to those unable afford our costly rental housing

Liberal views: Critical assistance to our underprivileged, in a country with the weakest social support system among developed countries, and with the highest inequality.

Conservative views: Adds too much to the national debt and will increase inflation.

Manchin view: The priority elements of the program need to be funded for the full 10 years, and not dependent on future Congresses extending them. He may require a smaller bill if Democrats cannot agree on additional funding. That funding would be available by increasing taxes on the wealthy, so the Democrats have work to do among their own Senators and Representatives.

Notably, none of the Conservative pundits criticize the need or value of these programs–just “we can’t afford it.” They criticize adding taxes, and constantly inaccurately complain that the proposed tax increases will be applied to working class folks and small businesses. That’s not true–just attempts to garner American sentiment against–thus making the polls suggest the bill is unpopular. In fact, all of the social service elements of the bill are extremely popular and in great need.

The facts:

First, the Republican history: No Republican President has reduced the national debt during his term. Most recently Donald Trump dramatically increased it by enacting his tax cut which went 80% to the wealthy and was not financed by any savings elsewhere. The debt rose by $7.8 Trillion during Trump’s term. So the Conservative hype about debt concerns is highly hypocritical.

By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office, non-partisan, estimated BBB’s $1.75 Trillion ten year spend will be short only $250 Billion in accompanying sources of funding–primarily from increased taxes on the ultra wealthy and establishing a minimum 15% tax on corporations, many of which have used a variety of legal loopholes to pay nothing, for years.

Is it a perfect bill? No. Is there ever a perfect bill in our highly divided Congress, where each representative is beholden to frequent returns to the ballot box and to the demands of their constituents? No. Trump’s tax cut bill was abysmally imperfect. Larry Summers said, “I think it’s a serious policy error that will make middle class Americans poorer.” And, Manchin is right that it would be ideal to fund all elements for the full 10 years.

A fan of the Biden’s BBB, Summers thinks it should tax the wealthy more and close tax loopholes. Original plans did so, but so called “moderate” Democrats opposed some of these provisions, regrettably. I belong to Patriotic Millionaires which fights for higher taxes on the wealthy of us.

Will this bill lead to inflation? No. Our inflation is largely Covid driven, and when the supply chain and Covid issues are resolved, we will return to reasonable inflation.

Time Magazine on BBB and inflation: “The major ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch both agree that BBB and the recently enacted infrastructure legislation would not add to inflationary pressures. Also, many leading economists have concluded that BBB would not make the Fed’s task of controlling inflation more difficult and should not stand in the way of enacting the needed investments in BBB, which would expand the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services in the longer term, strengthen economic growth, and ease future inflationary pressures.”

Larry Summers on BBB inflation:  “Because that [BBB} spending is offset by revenue increases and because it includes measures such as child care that will increase the economy’s capacity, Build Back Better will have only a negligible impact on inflation.”

There you have it. Needs adjustments to satisfy Democrats, including Manchin. A critical piece of legislation that needs to get approved. President Biden’s approval ratings notwithstanding, his legacy is written and it looks equivalent to that of Lyndon Johnson (a one term President) and even to FDR. By comparison, Donald Trump was a legislative failure of great proportions.