A new Ipsos poll for Reuters released this morning shows that Biden's overall polling is still strong-- 55% but is starting to erode as Democratic voters' disappointment has finally started to break through. Sure, at this point 4 years ago, just 36% of adults approved of Trump's job performance, but that's a pretty low bar to judge anyone by. "Among Democrats," wrote Chris Kahn, "78% said they approved of Biden's economic agenda, down 7 points from April, while the number of Democrats who disapproved of his economic plan rose 6 points to 15%. That includes an 11-point drop in approval among Democrats under 40 years old, an 8-point drop in approval among minority Democrats and Democrats without a college degree."
The challenge for Biden will be to find workable solutions while keeping his party together, including many Democrats who initially favored more liberal candidates like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as racial minorities and people with less higher education.
"He's in a delicate position with respect to the economy," said Donald Green, a political scientist at Columbia University. "His coalition ranges from people in high tech sectors to suburban swing voters to more traditional Democrats. They all want different things from the economy."
...The eroding support for Biden coincides with Democrats struggling to pass major parts of his agenda in Congress. They failed this month to generate enough support for federal voting rights legislation, and the future of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan is still in flux after months of negotiations with Republicans.
Today, the early morning Playbook crew at Politico reported at while Biden was celebrating his shitty all-conservative, "bipartisan" fake compromise deal on infrastructure he "suggested there would be no coming back for seconds: When it comes to spending on basic physical infrastructure (for roads, bridges, public transportation, etc.), the bipartisan deal is it. There will be no using the parallel, Democrats-only reconciliation package to spend more on those things than Republicans agreed to. Instead, Biden indicated, the reconciliation bill is exclusively for stuff that Democrats want but Republicans oppose-- like spending for family care, climate change and health care. This may seem like a minor point, but it has big implications. On the left, some progressives have argued that they would simply add to the reconciliation bill anything that wasn’t fully funded in the bipartisan bill. That’s not happening. Biden wanted $157 billion for electric vehicles. The bipartisan bill spends $15 billion. He wanted $100 billion for broadband, and he secured $65 billion. From the White House’s perspective, these issues are now resolved and the reconciliation bill can’t be used to take another crack at them. We checked with the White House, and officials confirmed that this interpretation is correct. On the right, some conservatives have argued that voting for the bipartisan deal is pointless because Democrats will simply take what they can get from Republicans on highway spending or airports and then get the rest in the reconciliation bill. But what's actually happening is that the bipartisan bill is serving as a brake on what Biden can spend on core infrastructure."
On Monday AOC and Cori Bush joined hundreds of Sunrise Movement Climate Crisis protesters outside the White House demanding that Biden prioritize Climate and not give in to corrupt conservatives from both parties who are paid to not notice the existential emergency.
This morning, Noah Smith noted that "The problem with the bipartisan infrastructure bill recently announced in the Senate is, well, partisanship. A lot of Biden’s agenda was left out, so there’s the natural impulse to put that stuff in a reconciliation bill (which doesn’t need GOP votes in order to pass the Senate). But let’s put aside the political maneuvering for a second, and just think about the bipartisan infrastructure deal on its own. The bipartisan deal contains a pot of money to repair America’s roads and bridges, and build a few more besides. This is the way we usually do infrastructure in America. First we build a ton of roads and bridges that are highly expensive to maintain, especially with our ruinously high construction costs. Then, because costs are so high, we wait for a long time to repair the roads and bridges, until civil engineers start screeching, roads get potholed, and there’s a bridge collapse or two. Then we muster up the political will to throw the requisite shit-ton of money at the problem, the potholes and weak bridges get repaired for twice the amount it would have cost had we done it on a regular schedule and three times the amount it would cost if we were a normal rich country. And the whole cycle begins again. This is basically what the new bill does. And that’s fine-- until we can fix our cost problem, that’s probably the best we can do when it comes to roads and bridges. But if this is all we do, it’s not really economically transformative." But that isn't all that Democrats and others who voted for Biden are looking for.
The U.S. needs to transition to a low-carbon economy, and not just because to avert climate disaster. Many of the technologies that enable this transition-- alternative energy, electric vehicles, energy storage, smart grids, and so on-- are going to be very valuable industries in the years to come. By being a leader in the transition, the U.S. wouldn’t just score moral points-- it would also gain competitiveness with respect to China. Thus, pushing green technology and green infrastructure is a very important form of government investment; in fact, even regulation, like Biden’s proposed clean energy standard, can be an investment-like policy in this situation, since it basically requires private companies to invest more.
The bipartisan deal, encouragingly, does have a little bit of this. Most importantly, it has $73 billion for electrical grid modernization-- something private companies are not going to do on their own. On electric vehicles, it’s less ambitious, spending only a few billion on charging stations and electrifying only 20% of school buses.
And unfortunately, the bill leaves out the crucial clean energy standard (and also the various subsidies to fund the transition to the new standard). Without this big push, the U.S. will probably fall further behind in clean energy tech, especially energy storage.
Most damningly, the bill completely cuts out a planned $35 billion for clean energy research. Of all the things we can do to shore up U.S. economic leadership and competitiveness, leveraging our strength in research and development is the most important and will likely give us the most bang for our buck. To cut it out of a bill like this is pointless foot-shooting.
...In general, though I’m sad about the diminished size and ambition of these new Bidenomics initiatives, I’m optimistic about their direction. They both show a new paradigm emerging-- a bipartisan recognition that government investment and government spending on technological competitiveness are both key components of a healthy economy. The shift in outlook is bipartisan, even if the GOP isn’t yet ready to fully open the public purse-strings on behalf of a Democratic President.
In fact, looking back on the New Deal and Reaganomics-- our last two big policy paradigm shifts-- we can see that they were substantively stymied in their early incarnations. Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts caused such high deficits that he had to partially reverse them in the following years. He never really made much progress on deregulation-- in fact, more significant deregulations happened under Carter. It was only later, under Bill Clinton, that Reaganomics reached its full fruition, with financial deregulation and welfare reform.
Similarly, the New Deal faced pushback that temporarily limited its transformative power. Public works projects never blossomed into the full-fledged Keynesian stimulus that would have been necessary to lift the U.S. out of the Depression; it took WW2 to do that. By 1937 the country was back to punishing austerity, and New Deal initiatives basically petered out at that time. But the New Deal and the Second World War changed the relationship between Americans and their government, which led to big changes down the road-- Medicare, the Great Society, the construction of the Interstate system, environmental and labor protections, and so on. Importantly, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon embraced Roosevelt’s basic vision of economic policy-- without their assent, it would not have made the deep, long-lasting impression it did.
In other words, these transformative economic policy programs often have much of their impact in the years after a president leaves office. On many points they fall victim to dogged opposition and status quo bias in the short run, but they change the way both parties think economic policy ought to be done. And that’s what really changes things.
In both of those previous cases, it was probably the challenges of the day that really made the shifts possible. New Dealism was a response to the Depression and WW2, and later to the early Cold War; Reaganomics was a response to stagflation, the energy shocks, and the challenge from a resurgent Soviet petrostate. In the same way, Bidenomics is our answer to Covid, to slowing growth, and-- most importantly-- to the competitive challenge from China.
And thus, if Biden can create a mindset change-- a general bipartisan and popular acceptance of the type of policies needed to meet the challenges of the 2020s-- he can leave a legacy that goes far beyond actual dollars spent. The recent set of investment bills give a glimmer of hope that this is already happening.
As David Roberts pointed out this morning, there is no "moderate" position on Climate Change. Many older Democrats can't grasp that. It's time to bid them-- and the corrupted ones-- a not so fond adieu. That's what primaries are for... and that's why 3 corrupt Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries, Josh Gottheimer and Terri Sewell, started their anti-progressive/anti-primary Team Blue PAC--to protect these people from fed up progressives.
"To allow temperatures to rise past 1.5° or 2°C this century," wrote Roberts, "is to accept unthinkable disruption to agriculture, trade, immigration, public health, and basic social cohesion. To hold temperature rise to less than 1.5° or 2°C this century will require enormous, heroic decarbonization efforts on the part of every wealthy country. Either of those outcomes is, in its own way, radical. There is no non-radical future available for the US in decades to come. Our only choice is the proportions of the mix: action vs. impacts. The less action we and other countries take to address the threat, the more impacts we will all suffer. Politicians who hamper the effort to decarbonize and increase resilience are not moderates. They are effectively choosing a mix of low action and high impacts-- ever-worsening heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. There is nothing moderate about that, certainly nothing conservative. For years, climate scientists, advocates, and activists have been trying to get politicians to understand this about climate change: that indifference and inaction are not neutral. Every day that goes by, more damages are baked in and getting the problem under control is more difficult. The cost of preventing future impacts is tiny relative to the cost, in lives and money, of adapting to them. The only way to conserve what Americans love in this country is to act aggressively to limit carbon emissions, commercialize clean-energy technologies, and wind down fossil fuel production-- and help other countries to do the same. To do less means to conserve less, to accept more loss."