Biden still has work to do on the economy – OpEd – Eurasia Review
By Maria Maalouf*
There is no doubt that US President Joe Biden won a major political and legislative victory when Congress last month passed a major spending bill totaling $360 billion. The Inflation Reduction Act includes funds for health, climate and other spending areas. However, Biden’s celebrations could be premature. Other political factors could thwart his political programs. The $360 billion spending package could face many hurdles.
The Biden administration enjoyed several political gains through the passage of this bill. It showed that the president can work with Congress and overcome any opposition. As a result, he can coordinate many policies with Democrats in Congress under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Additionally, Biden is fulfilling his campaign promises to spend more on health care and the climate.
Additionally, the president is moving the Democratic Party along a progressive path. The policy of the US government is now to focus more on social programs, as opposed to defense spending still favored by Republicans. Moreover, the size of the expense package is enormous. Therefore, he will fund and promote many of the proposals the Biden administration has been talking about since entering the White House. Biden’s political victory dispelled his image as a failed politician far inferior to his two Democratic predecessors: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
What is crucial for Biden is that he is now able to energize his political base. It’s a common phrase in the American political lexicon that means a president can muster the popular support he needs to govern and implement his vision for the country. Many show enthusiasm for what Biden has done. For example, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote in support of the president as a politician capable of defeating a conservative agenda. Predictably, many analysts are now debating the next policy move for Biden. Most likely, he will impose two types of taxes: one will be levied on the super-rich in America and the other will be applied to the big oil companies who make big profits.
Nonetheless, Biden still can’t control inflation. It is a very negative political trend that the American middle class is so affected by the rising price of every commodity, especially food.
The future of this huge spending bill remains uncertain, especially if Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives as expected in November’s midterm elections. Worse still, millions of Americans are skeptical about whether or not this bill will improve the economy. The budget deficit could also swell due to the Inflation Reduction Act.
According to National Public Radio: “Because the midterm review projections were finalized in June, (the budget shortfall) does not include the $280 billion CHIPS and science law and climate, health, and and taxes estimated at $740 billion.” This means the Biden administration will spend the same amount of money on a similar bill and target health care and climate. NPR estimates that the Biden administration “projects a deficit of $1.03 trillion, down from nearly $400 billion.” Still, the budget deficit is unlikely to shrink if Democrats continue to pass these lavish spending bills.
Biden cannot govern by taxing and spending. The American people will resent him that way. Instead, Biden’s economic agenda should seek common ground, identifying what Democrats and Republicans can achieve together to improve the economy. In this regard, he finds support among some Republicans, who see in his partial cancellation of student debt a tremendous relief for the American economy. This is what Biden needs to push quickly and hard. Canceling $1 trillion in student debt is more helpful to the US economy than spending $360 billion on programs that cannot succeed in their entirety.
• Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, editor and writer. She holds a master’s degree in political sociology from the University of Lyon.