“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” is the famous phrase of former US President Ronald Reagan in his inaugural address in 1981. It was the start of 40 years to hate the “big government” And the increased role of the state in the American economy. Even Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have avoided implementing more ambitious policies to expand the welfare state in a country where there is no universal access to health care or maternity leave. obligatory.
It was up to a 78-year-old man, moderate to the point of boring, to come up with a revolution: resurrecting the role of the state as a major service provider and burying reorganization in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic, which highlighted the difference between an absent government and an efficient administration, was essential.
In his first hundred days, Joe Biden was able to approve a $ 1.9 trillion rescue package for American families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a distribution of $ 1,400 in checks, a program has proposed. infrastructure estimated at $ 2.25 trillion and is preparing to announce a $ 1.5 trillion family plan.
Biden’s performance in handling the pandemic has helped fight the demonization of the role of government. When he assumed the presidency on January 20, the United States had a daily average of 195,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths from Covid. Today, the daily average of new cases has fallen to around 57,000, and that of deaths, to 700. The Democrat has pledged to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days. He doubled: he hit 200 million a week before the deadline.
The Democrat was fortunate enough to inherit an advanced vaccine development program from his predecessor. But the logistics were Biden’s credit – Donald Trump had left the distribution entirely to the states.
Biden, who has placed a large portrait of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) in front of his desk in the Oval Office of the White House, does not hide his inspiration. In a recent meeting with historians, he was caught telling author Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of Roosevelt’s biographers: “I’m not an FDR, but …”
Reagan and his supporters spent decades reversing the New Deal, Public Works Program, financial reform, and regulatory policies adopted by FDR to pull the country out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Great Society. , a plan by Lyndon Johnson that introduced medical care for the elderly and the poor (Medicare and Medicaid), food assistance (food stamps) and other anti-poverty programs. Successive governments have focused on reducing the budget deficit and cutting taxes, believing that the private sector would do almost everything more efficiently than the state.
Biden knows that it is not enough to limit government expansion to the fight against Covid. Its infrastructure plan aims to transform the state as an engine of investment not only in roads and bridges, but in reinventing the United States as a sustainable economic power. He will soon announce his American Family Plan, which targets investments in education, child care, and maternity and paternity leave, with great influence in American society.
Republicans, as expected, did not convert to the FDR credo. Republican Mitch McConnell, a minority leader in the Senate, says Biden’s plan is a Trojan horse for spending by leftists who want to raise taxes.
But Biden has abandoned any intention of bipartisanship. Legislation is only passed with democratic support, with maneuvers like reconciliation, which allows a law to be passed by a simple majority, instead of 60 votes in the Senate, as in most cases.
He doesn’t want to repeat the failure of Obama, who, pending Republican support, confined himself to a more timid stimulus package in 2009 – and, after losing a majority in the House in 2010, had it blocked a large part of its initiatives.
But unlike the FDR, which has come to have a majority of nearly 200 seats in the House and 58-37 in the Senate, Biden only controls the Senate (50-50) through the vote of the vice president of the vice-president. president, Kamala Harris, and he has a small majority in the House. It is a very risky bet to try to approve this huge expansion of the state without any Republican support.
Polls show how difficult this agenda is in a highly polarized country, where the opponent won 74 million votes and where most Republican voters believe the election was rigged, though countless courts have testified opposite.
Biden has amassed political capital with his work in the pandemic. According to the latest ABC News / Washington Post poll, 65% of respondents approve of the pandemic rescue plan and 64% approve of its handling during the Covid crisis.
Even so, the same survey shows that 52% of respondents approve of Biden’s leadership – he just isn’t losing popularity in favor of Gerald Ford (48% at the same stage of his tenure) and Trump (42%).
Even though he has good endorsement for Covid, there are some important flanks on his agenda. His actions related to the immigration crisis on the border with Mexico, for example, were only approved by 37%.
Biden has called off a series of Trump measures aimed at blocking the entry of migrants and refugees. But it has helped generate an explosion in the number of children crossing the border, with enormous difficulties sheltering them amid the pandemic. In addition, the separation of families has not yet been resolved.
In his ballot of electoral promises, he is always accused by his base of more assertive measures regarding racial and economic inequalities and the restriction of the possession of firearms. Some economists point out that the huge injection of money into the economy with state programs, and the increase in the deficit, can generate inflation in the medium term. And Biden has yet to garner support, even among his party’s moderates, for drastically raising corporate taxes to fund his programs.
However, the bet is on speed. If Democrats fail to maintain control of the House and Senate in the legislative elections of 2022, something entirely possible, it will all be even more difficult. His team sees the government as a race against time – after a hundred days, they are winning over ambition. See if they can get all of these plans approved.