Liberals and conservatives alike are starting to call President Joe Biden a new Franklin Delano Roosevelt—a president proposing programs that are so big and bold that, if enacted, they will transform the American way of life.
Well, not quite. If liberals want such a transformation, they shouldn’t rest and think that Biden’s plans are going to do it for them. And if conservatives don’t want such a transformation, they can relax.
This podcast shows why.
Podcast Says: Big And Bold, But….
Sure, Biden’s progressive plans are bigger and bolder than anything America has seen since the 1960s.
But as this political podcast explains, they are not the New Deal, which fundamentally transformed America from a country in which people were on their own to a country with a well-functioning social safety net. They only look like plans for a new New Deal because the American way of life has been dominated by Reaganism for the last 40 years, which was less about the social safety net and more about self-reliance.
The 20% of Gross Domestic Product America spends on public investment and the social safety net is a conservative amount for which Ronald Reagan would approve.
Not Like Europe
Europe invests about 50% of its GDP in public goods: education, healthcare, infrastructure, public housing, retirement, transportation, and utilities. America does not. Biden is proposing upping the 20% that America invests, but not to European proportions.
America has a $20 trillion economy, so 50% of that would be $10 trillion. Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is for about $2.3 trillion—an appalling figure to Reaganite conservatives, but nothing compared to what Europe spends. And Europe spends it every year. Biden’s plan would cost $2.3 trillion over eight years.
The New Deal created public investments that constituted about 40% of the nation’s GDP, coming close to modern Europe’s figure. Biden isn’t proposing anything close to that.
So yes, Biden’s liberal plans are bigger than anything proposed by Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, whose policies essentially were about as liberal as those of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s in the 1950s. The political center moved sharply right since the days of Ronald Reagan as President, and policies that used to be considered moderate are now considered liberal. That’s where Joe Biden fits in.
In Barack Obama’s book The Promised Land, the former President noted that during his administration, Biden was always the voice of caution and advocated going slow on liberal policies. He has gone bigger than expected, but his Eisenhower-like plans are not exactly the New Deal.
Don’t get me wrong. Liberals should be excited about Biden initiatives such as the American Families Plan, which would include universal preschool, free community college, child care support, paid family leave, expansion of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and health care premium tax credits. But is this plan, with its $1.8 trillion investment in the public sector over ten years, a new New Deal? Not hardly.
No Cigarette Holder And Pince-Nez
So put away the cigarette holder and the pince-nez glasses. Joe Biden is not FDR. He gets credit for policies bolder than anything America has seen since the 1960s, but since the 1980s America has defined policies though a Reaganite prism that does not let the light of the New Deal shine through.
In my book Winning Political Campaigns, I note how FDR’s and Reagan’s superior communications abilities enabled them to sell policies to America that radically transformed it.
It remains to be seen whether Biden can do the same.
Check Out The Podcast Now
Check out this podcast now and get the back story on how Biden compares to FDR.
William S. Bike is the author of Winning Political Campaigns, a how-to book on all aspects of political campaigning.