The daily beast
How Joe Biden turned Ronald Reagan’s decades-old conventional wisdom upside down in less than two months
Bloomberg / Getty “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I am from the government and I am here to help.'” With that famous line that Ronald Reagan uttered on August 12, 1986 during his second Tenure as President, the GOP mantra for decades to come, was born. In fact, this philosophy later found a home in the Democratic Party. In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton declared, “The era of great government is over” and stated, “We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington.” And during a presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush in October 2000, the experts at the time determined that the two appeared to be competing for the title of “candidate for a smaller government”. Gore even boasted that his campaign to “reinvent the government” as Vice President under Clinton had reduced the government to the lowest employment level since 1960. Biden’s revolution is doing what Obama and Clinton haven’t done. Fortunately, these days are over – at least for now. Even a good segment of Republicans recognize that the federal government’s offer to help during this pandemic isn’t “terrifying.” Rather, it can be lifesaving in terms of both health and finances. Shortly after President Biden finished his national address on Thursday, a year since the virus was declared a pandemic, Trump lovers Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee and others whined that Biden Trump was not ready to launch Operation Warp Speed I thanked the federal government’s $ 18 billion program to “expedite the testing, delivery, development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines.” Even these staunch Conservatives implicitly admitted that this federal government program was effective in helping Americans. Another blow to Reagan’s philosophy that government is inherently bad is evident in the notable support given to massive COVID relief packages. Last March, when Trump signed the $ 2.2 trillion CARES bill – the first relief bill – it was backed by 77 percent of Americans, including a whopping 76 percent of Republicans. As of December 2020, two-thirds of Americans believed the federal government hadn’t done enough to “provide economic aid” during the coronavirus pandemic, including 46 percent of Republicans per PBS / Marist poll. This was similar to the 70 percent support for Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout package he signed Thursday, which includes direct economic reviews, funds to reopen schools, expanded unemployment benefits, assistance to state and local governments, and more – with Texas receiving the second highest state aid in the nation at $ 27 billion. Yes, this is a unique time for our nation facing a deadly pandemic that still claims nearly 1,500 lives a day. As of last week, more than 20 million Americans are still receiving some form of unemployment benefit. Without the pandemic, it would be unlikely we would have seen this widespread support for big government spending and new programs – especially among Republicans. However, this is still the perfect time for Democrats to launch more programs to help Americans on a range of issues from minimum wages to health care. Indeed, both issues have widespread electoral support. For example, a majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $ 15, and as many as 51 percent of Republicans are in favor of raising the minimum wage by some amount, just not $ 15. When it comes to health care, in a September Pew poll, 63 percent of Americans believe the federal government is “responsible” for ensuring that all Americans have health insurance, a little over 59 percent in 2019. The hard part is how to implement policies that are backed by a majority of Americans, even when the Democrats are in control of the House, Senate, and White House? It’s not just the Senate filibuster getting in the way, but possibly the spirit of the Democrats’ last major government program, the ACA, that many have viewed as the reason the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010. In 2014, Chuck Schumer, then the third largest Democrat in the Senate, directly accused the ACA’s passage of violating the Democrats in the medium term, saying the party had “seized the opportunity the American people gave them”. At the time, he added a line that may still be in his thought process today: “After the stimulus passed, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class programs and build on the partial success of the stimulus.” ACA was an albatross in 2010 and 2014 the neck of the Democrats. Protection was one of the main reasons Democrats won the house in 2018. In fact, ACA approval has risen from 38 percent in the mid-2010s to the mid-50s today. This could very well be viewed as an indicator of how public opinion has evolved over the past decade. The Americans now see the government as helpful. The Democrats in Congress know they have to deliver. As MP Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Chair of the Progressive Caucus of Congress, told me, if Democrats fail to honor issues like the minimum wage, “people will stop trusting us.” Jayapal has vowed to push on a broad progressive agenda and I hope that in the face of the filibuster, the Democrats take the victories where they can, even if that means a compromise. The pandemic has made it clear that Reagan’s philosophy that the federal government is inherently “terrifying” no longer resonates with most Americans. This is the time for the Democratic Party to boldly advocate programs that will make it clear to our fellow Americans that the federal government can help them past times when it is urgently needed – because it can. Read More Sign up now! 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