The new President of the United States, Joe Biden, says we need to get in the harness and pull in the same direction if we want to get anywhere. That is a self-evident fact given the way our Congress works. It’s much easier to stop legislation than to pass it.
The fact of how to break the logjam begs the question where do we wish to take the logs when we have them floating free? Biden suggests we are facing four interlocking crises that must be addressed.
(Russell digression™ There is another problem big enough to choke a Clydesdale that is too widely distributed in space and time to describe it as a crisis. Biden is not saying it out loud for the sake of the need to construct something resembling national unity to get anything at all done about the four crises he is proposing to engage.
Underlying all political action in this country in the short term is The Donald Problem, the great mass of messes Mr. Trump made, some on purpose but most from sheer ineptitude. This is what comes from electing a president for entertainment value who has no visible qualifications for the office. Please do not take this evaluation as meanness just to be mean. I quit the Democrats many years ago and I still cling to my Independent label as I watch the Republicans go crazy.
Your child from elementary or middle school brings home a horrible report card. When you sit down to talk about it, what do you tell her about the value of reading?
What value, if we elect a POTUS who can’t read a briefing paper, much less a book?
What about writing?
What about it, when we put a man in the White House who hires everything of length ghost written and signs executive orders that are constructed like his Twitter feed?
A president draws laughs when he engages in public spats with other leaders about the balance of trade. It becomes obvious he does not know how to compute the balance of trade. People laugh but he is still the POTUS.
Why, your child wants to know, are you exercised about her D in history?
You say if we don’t know history, we are doomed to repeat it — but we have a POTUS who has publicly scrambled the events leading up to both world wars, who does not understand the realignment after WWII, and who cannot explain the battle between Sunni and Shi’a Islam well enough to know which side a nation is on and why that matters.
I could go on, but the bottom line is that Mr. Trump has skated through life on the excellent reputation of the Wharton School of Business, a reputation created by Wharton’s graduate program. Mr. Trump did not grace any graduate school with his wealthy presence and he did not gain any life experience to plug the hole where graduate school would have been. Government does not and cannot run like a business.
Donald John Trump is a flashing neon sign advertising that one of the most complex executive positions on the planet requires no preparation by schooling or by experience. You only need to assert that you are “a very stable genius.”)
The four crises President Biden puts forward for the front burners on his professional grade stove are:
- COVID 19
The body count will be closing in on half a million from this disease Mr. Trump said involved one Chinese guy who would be sent back to China.
- The economy is in deep recession circling the drain of a second Great Depression.
This is, of course, a by-product of COVID 19, which shuts down businesses requiring face-to-face contact and the associated jobs.
- The unfortunate business left for the United States by the compromise with slavery that allowed the industrializing north and the plantation economy of the south to ratify the Constitution, the same unfortunate business left by the premature end to Reconstruction in the Compromise of 1877.
The unfortunate business is white supremacy enforced by law and custom and it is biting the U.S. once again. While this is not a convenient time to deal with it, we should understand by now there will never be a convenient time to deal with it.
- Underneath it all is the pulsing planetary emergency of the changing climate, changing too quickly and in ways that complicate the continuation of H. sapiens as the dominant species.
It hides behind assertions that the planet is not warming, if it is warming it’s a natural variation that will regress to the mean. If it’s warming and not going back, humans are not causing it. If it’s warming and not going back and humans are causing it, global climate change is too big a problem for any government to handle. Lots of folks are stuck in one of the four stages of denial, but every weather event as unlikely as it is damaging moves a few more voters toward the necessity to push back.
Biden’s four-point agenda — five if you count ending the polarization and hostility that has made progress so difficult — -makes sense in terms of the national interest, but suffers from the common problem that Democrats cannot tell Republicans what they want and it’s a necessary piece of the puzzle that is hard to discern.
Republicans want lower taxes and the smaller government that follows from a shrinking tax base. Their long term strategy has been to accuse Democrats of “tax and spend” when the Democrats were in power and practicing “spend and spend” when Republicans held the purse strings. Governments can run a deficit and governments with reserve currencies can run big deficits for a long time, but most economists believe that there is a day of reckoning somewhere, sometime.
Study those four issues Biden identifies and ask yourself two questions:
First, is Biden wrong to call it a crisis?
Second, is there any way to deal with it without spending money?
The only problem a traditional GOP tax cut solves is consumers having too little money to spend and therefore keep the economy moving, and it will do little for that problem when — as now — -the lack of spending is tied to lack of jobs. Sending people money is a stopgap, not a solution.
As I write, President Biden’s legislative proposals to attack each of the four crises are coming together with alacrity. Fast forward several months, and the Biden bills are in committee hearings. A bill’s sponsor is tasked to make Republican objections go away if possible. The sponsor meets with the ranking minority member on the committee:
“What do you want?”
Previously Published on Medium