The last thing anyone would accuse Joe Biden of is being overstimulated. But the Senate’s rapid approval of his pandemic aid plan, or American Rescue Plan, as it’s officially called, should be more than enough to put a spring in his step. It’s a victory that may even power the Democrats to victory in the midterms.
Captious progressive Democrats will complain that the bill isn’t generous enough. They already are. But House Democrats will dutifully line up next week to pass it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to blow this. After four years of the Trump era, sensible Democrats know that this is their chance to spend big even if it isn’t as bigly as the Squad would prefer.
Like Donald Trump, who was never averse to goosing the economy, Biden knows the value of stimulating the economy. But where Trump’s tax cut never really bore much economic fruit, other than to hand the uberwealthy and corporations a nifty present, Biden’s stimulus may actually stimulate. If he can achieve anywhere from five to (gasp!) 10 percent GDP growth this year, he will be hailed as an economic visionary who put America’s travail’s firmly behind it. Call it the Biden Boom.
Unlike Trump, Biden probably won’t insist on personally signing the $1,400 checks heading out to millions of Americans, not to mention the extension of jobless benefits. But if the economy starts picking up, as seems likely, it is Biden and the Democrats who will get the credit. Senate Republicans unanimously voted against the lavish bill. They may be miscalculating, not only when it comes the salubrious economic effects of the bill but also about its political implications. After the age of austerity that Americans endured during the Obama era and that marked the final year of the Trump presidency, the country is ready to whoop it up. Assuming that the next two years will simply be a replay of the first two years of the Obama presidency, when Republican obstructionism paid large political dividends, may well be the political equivalent of generals fighting the last war.
Biden is a shrewd customer. Unlike Obama, he didn’t waste months on end palavering with the GOP in an ultimately futile attempt to win it assent to major legislation. Instead, he dumped his bipartisan promises overboard in order to score a victory. Now that he’s victorious, Biden will press ahead to bolster his popularity and legislative proposals. The Associated Press has him at a 60 percent approval rating. Not too shabby for a guy that his adversaries claimed was a doddering old coot who could barely lace his shoes.
Biden has been consistently written off in the past several years. Republicans underestimate him at their peril. Biden is on a roll. What will he aim for next?