Will the Rockefeller Republicans return

Joe Biden: The middle man is becoming an ambitious reformer

It goes very fast. The Corona aid package that Joe Biden brought through Congress in March was followed by a blueprint to help bring America's outdated infrastructure in many places up to the level of the 21st century. And now, even before parliament has voted on the infrastructure amendment, the veteran is presenting his third plan to the White House, this time with the aim of improving childcare, strengthening health care and offering young people from humble backgrounds fair educational opportunities.

The cost is as staggering as the pace Biden is setting: $ 1.9 trillion, $ 2.3 trillion, and finally $ 1.8 trillion. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal cushioned the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, no American president has embarked on so many ambitious programs in such a short period of time.

Speech in Congress

If Joe Biden is to address both chambers of Congress shortly before his first 100 days in office, that is only appropriate. He of all people, who stood for measure and middle during the election campaign, for small steps, for renouncing experiments, is trying to implement such radical reforms. The change in direction that he is currently aiming for has not occurred in this consequence for four decades.

In the early 1980s, it was Ronald Reagan who turned things around and de facto ended the Roosevelt era. State action, preached the conservative from California, should be restricted to an absolutely necessary minimum so that it does not stand in the way of private initiative: "The state is not the solution to our problem, the state is the problem." Bill Clinton, the first Democrat to win a presidential election after the Reagan years, essentially stayed on course. The days of big government are over, he said in a 1996 speech on the State of the Union.

Now, Joe Biden is basically saying that big government is essential. That the US needs a more ambitious economic and social policy. That this is the only way to tackle what is perhaps the most acute structural problem: a social inequality that has only grown since the 1980s and that not only robs the poorest but increasingly also the middle class of their opportunities for advancement.

When Biden's advisors stress the urgency of comprehensive reforms, they make two central arguments. The first: In order to save American democracy from populists, this democracy has to take care of those who are left behind and those plagued by fear of relegation, Donald Trump's "forgotten men and women". The second: a democracy like that of the United States has to show that it can solve problems efficiently if it wants to win the race of models against the autocratically ruled opponent China.

Trust in the pandemic

Biden has proven his ability to solve problems by ensuring that his compatriots are vaccinated against the coronavirus faster than was thought possible in January. He can build on that. A clear majority of the citizens in the USA, including a number of Trump voters, certify that his administration acted stringently.

The question is what if the United States returns from crisis mode to normal post-coronavirus pandemic. The President trusts that the experience of a pandemic, which relentlessly exposed structural weaknesses, will guarantee support for his restructuring plans for the foreseeable future.

The Republicans consider his fiscal feat, combined with higher taxes, such as a doubling of the capital gains tax for income millionaires, not only superfluous in view of the scenarios of strong economic growth. They also hope that two or three skeptical Democrats will ally with them - and block Biden's bills in the Senate. How the wrestling will end is of course still completely open. (Frank Herrmann from Washington, April 28, 2021)