Where We’re Heading

Ronald Reagan. They called him “the Great Communicator”, but he was a horrible president. When he was seeking a second term in 1984, one of his campaign ads began with the phrase: “It’s morning again in America”.

The idea was that after four years of his leadership, the US was in good shape again. The head of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker (a Democrat), had killed the high inflation of the late 70s by raising interest rates to stratospheric levels. And Republicans had juiced the economy by going on a tax-cutting and spending spree based on the ludicrous theory that massive tax cuts would pay for themselves (a doctrine famously labeled “Voodoo Economics” by a future, less dangerous Republican president).

But a poll taken two months ago showed only 29% of country think the US is on the right track.

Well, Democrats and the new media need to get the word out. Biden should reuse that famous phrase: “It’s morning again in America”.

In less than 10 months, the Democrats have have cut child poverty in half, added more than 5 million jobs, managed the most ambitious vaccine rollout in the nation’s history, and passed a $1.2 trillion investment in the water, roads, bridges and broadband. (The broadband provisions of the infrastructure bill will help some of the most conservative parts of America — rural areas that struggle with unreliable, expensive connectivity.)

1.44 million vaccinations were administered yesterday. 70% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Pfizer says its anti-viral pill reduces the risk of death or hospitalization by 89% in people who take it within three days of symptoms starting.


  • January 2021: Unemployment rate is 6.3%.
  • February 2021: Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects we will get to 4.6% unemployment by the end of 2023.
  • March 2021: Democrats pass the American Rescue Plan with ZERO REPUBLICAN VOTES.
  • October 2021: Economy reaches 4.6% unemployment two years ahead of schedule, declining more this year than any other year on record.

The initial August jobs number of 235,000 started a wave of economic panic in the press. It was actually 483,000. September’s 194,000, which signaled malaise, has been revised to 312,000.

531,000 jobs were added in October, beating all expectations. Leisure and hospitality gained 164,000 jobs, as restaurants continued to staff up amid the decrease in coronavirus cases. Professional and business services added 100,000 jobs, manufacturing added 60,000, construction 44,000, health care 37,000, and transportation and warehousing 54,000. . . .

The US has now added 5.5 million jobs since President Biden took office. Approximately 80% of the jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered. The labor market is recovering much faster than it did after the 2008 recession.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low.

Average wages are up $2 an hour. Wages for production workers are up 5.8% and 12.4% for restaurant workers.

Home values are up. Family debt is down. The S&P 500 is up 23% since Biden took office, 32% since he was elected (we’re still waiting for the crash the previous president predicted).

In October, consumer confidence, “the engine of the U.S. economy”, rose after months of decline. Consumers were also the most optimistic since 2000 about their own prospects to find jobs. 

It’s true, the average price of gasoline has gone up. It always goes up and down, given the price of oil and how much people drive. It was almost $5.00 a gallon in 2008 (when a Republican was president) and $4.00 in 2014. It’s around $3.40 today.

fotw1199Since we’re coming out of a pandemic-infused recession, problems should be expected.


What’s next?

Democrats, again with ZERO REPUBLICAN VOTES, will pass parts of Biden’s “Build Back Better” social policy bill, fulfilling some of the promises he ran on in 2020 (not because  Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has hypnotized him).

Biden describes it in two sentences, “The build back better framework lowers your bills for health care, child care, prescription drugs, and preschool. And families get a tax cut.”

Paul Krugman used one sentence: “Tax the rich, help America’s children”.

Democrats may — may — finally be about to agree on a revenue and spending plan. It will clearly be smaller than President Biden’s original proposal, and much smaller than what progressives wanted. It will, however, be infinitely bigger than what Republicans would have done, because if the G.O.P. controlled Congress, we would be doing nothing at all to invest in America’s future.

But what will the plan do? Far too much reporting has focused mainly on the headline spending number — $3.5 trillion, no, $1.5 trillion, whatever — without saying much about the policies this spending would support. . . 

So let me propose a one-liner: Tax the rich, help America’s children. This gets at much of what the legislation is likely to do: Reporting suggests that the final bill will include taxes on billionaires’ incomes and minimum taxes for corporations, along with a number of child-oriented programs. And action on climate change can, reasonably, be considered another way of helping future generations.

Republicans will, of course, denounce whatever Democrats come out with. But there are three things you should know about both taxing the rich and helping children: They’re very good ideas from an economic point of view. They’re extremely popular. And they’re very much in the American tradition.

I hope what comes soon after that is an all-out push to convince two or three misguided Democratic senators to reform the filibuster in order to protect voting rights, because, all around the country, Republicans are doing whatever they can to insure minority, right-wing rule.

Biden and his team are restoring reasonable regulations for business and trying to address the climate crisis. They’re reuniting immigrant families instead of tearing them apart. They had the guts to finally end our longest, stupidest war. They’re getting respect around the world, not losing it. They want women to control their bodies. They believe it should be easy for Americans to vote. 

Maybe him and other Democrats know what they’re doing. Maybe more of us will figure that out.