Joe Biden's Got Green New Deal In Your Stimulus!
Joe Biden has some ideas about economic stimulus. In an interview with Politico, Biden said America needs a new stimulus bill that's a "hell of a lot bigger" than last month's $2.2 trillion CARES Act to get people through the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus, as well as bold thinking that goes well beyond the immediate crisis. My gosh, it's almost as if he knows that you don't get out of economic doldrums by forcing austerity.
Also, he cussed a lot about Donald Trump's terrible management of the crisis, but limited it to hells and damns to keep it all safe for primetime TV. We'll confess, we like Angry Joe.
Politico's Michael Grunwald noted that Biden's economic talk "sounded a bit like his angrier and less moderate primary rivals, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren," which is all to the good. Any new stimulus, he said, has to be aimed at making sure state and local governments can avoid "laying off a hell of a lot of teachers and cops and firefighters," and needs better oversight built into it, since the Trump administration is "wasting a hell of a lot of money" with the current stimulus funding.
[Stimulus] is a subject close to his heart, and he passionately contrasted his own management of President Barack Obama's $800 billion Recovery Act in 2009 with President Donald Trump's approach to the trillions of dollars flowing out of Capitol Hill.
The Obama stimulus was wildly controversial, but it won bipartisan praise for its strict oversight and unusually low levels of fraud. In the interview, Biden was at his most indignant when he recounted how he recruited a gruff law enforcement veteran and government watchdog named Earl Devaney to oversee the Recovery Act in 2009, and how President Donald Trump fired the Pentagon inspector general who had been selected to oversee the CARES Act almost immediately after he signed it.
Why yes, we would like to quibble with that "wildly controversial" label there, since it came from Republicans who only give two shits about deficits when there's a Democrat in the White House, and then turn around and pass tax cuts that are far larger once they're in office. But yes, more about Biden's oversight of the 2009 stimulus, please?
"I wanted to bring in the toughest son-of-a-bitch in the country — I really mean it, I'm not joking — because we wanted to make sure we did it by the numbers with genuine oversight," Biden said. "Right now, there's no oversight. [Trump] made it real clear he doesn't have any damn interest in being checked. The last thing he wants is anyone watching that $500 billion going to corporate America, for God's sake."
Unfortunately, the Politico piece went on to misidentify the oversight dude Trump fired, saying it was Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who forwarded the Ukraine whistleblower complaint to Congress, which led to Trump's impeachment. Silly Politico, not that fired IG! It was actually the Defense Department's (acting) IG Glenn Fine, for the record. We can see how Politico would mix them up, since both were fired the same week in April, along with several thousand other IGs. Because Donald Trump was so focused on dealing with the pandemic, probably.
Biden had a lot more to say about how this stimmy stuff should be helping small businesses, not the big banks that have been the conduit for the "small-business" loan program that has ended up benefiting so many very large businesses. Biden said Republicans had been entirely too generous to the banks, making this "the second time we've bailed their asses out," and complaining that giant banks, which are "only alive because of the American taxpayer" have given preferential treatment to their existing — and most profitable — customers in making loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
"We knew from the beginning that the big banks don't like lending to small businesses," Biden said. "I'm telling you, though, if Main Street businesses don't get help, they're gone."
For the next round of stimulus spending, Biden said it's vital to get aid for state and local government, and beyond that, to focus on the long-term thinking that'll be needed to help the economy get back on track. But not back to the same old thing:
Biden suggested that after four rounds of legislation designed primarily to stanch the economic bleeding, the next round should include more forward-looking investments that could help the economy start to recover and grow once the virus is contained. He suggested a "trillion-dollar infrastructure program that can be implemented really rapidly," as well as "dealing with environmental things that create good-paying jobs."
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have suggested that "green stimulus" would be a nonstarter with Republicans, but Biden said investments in light rail, clean drinking water, and half a million electric vehicle chargers on the nation's highways could help retool the economy for the future.
Such long-term investments, he said, would lead to the economic growth that would help pay for the spending that will dig us out of the current slump. We should repeal the 2017 Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads, he said, which "wasn't worth the powder it will take to blow it to hell." Instead, investing in green infrastructure and jobs for the future will be "the only thing that grows the economy back so the deficit doesn't eat you alive."
Not surprisingly, once the Politico interview went up, a Trump campaign spokesidiot, Tim Murtaugh, offered a load of codswallop, claiming that Biden wants to use the coronavirus crisis to sneak through a Green New Deal while the planet's temporarily less polluted (OK, he didn't say it that way), and that green energy would create "millions of job losses in the energy sector," as if nobody would have jobs in clean energy. Then Murtaugh told another whopper:
Joe Biden helped preside over the worst economic recovery since World War II, so economic advice from him is not exactly a hot commodity.
Pre-Rona Unemployment and GDP charts, please?
And of course, the Obama recovery could have been much stronger were it not for deficit hawks' insistence on austerity, which limited the effects of the post-2008 stimulus. Let us lecture you about how Republican austerity also fucked over the progress being made by the New Deal in 1937, shall we? Grrr. Makes us so mad we could mildly cuss like Joe Biden!
In any case, it's a good interview and you should read it; Joe Biden is clearly listening to people telling him we could use some genuinely progressive economics right now, and we're looking forward to hearing more of this stuff. The Biden campaign really needs to write all this up in some policy papers for us to roll around in.
[Politico / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.