Ben Boyce

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A government that believes in government

Posted on May 7, 2021 by Ben Boyce

The first 100 days of the Biden Administration have been a substantive success. It is refreshing to have people who believe in government. The Biden national address to a joint session of Congress hit a lot of good notes on the domestic policy front. The American Families Plan is a good solid social democratic policy initiative that, if enacted, would fill in some of the missing nets in the social fabric by reducing the instability and precarity of working-class families.

I was also encouraged by Biden’s deliberate invocation of the liberal creed that government can be a force for good. That credo went out of fashion with the election of Ronald Reagan and no other recent Democratic president has attempted to re-assert it.

That said, all the fevered talk in centrist Democratic circles about how Joe Biden is the new FDR or the standard-bearer for the progressive movement shows that these folks need to get outside more often. He is not that guy. Most of the provisions in the American Rescue Plan were temporary patches meant to reverse the cascading series of economic blows inflicted on the working class by the long pandemic. These measures are remedial more than structural.

An accurate assessment of the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill is that it is temporary and contingent aid that arrived about nine months too late to stop permanent economic scarring. We will have a lost generation unless we take decisive action now.

The new proposal does have structural elements that will intervene in the existing market mechanisms to establish a national childcare network, and fund two years of community college. The most radical feature is the proposed $300/month childcare subsidy, which would make it more rational for working-class people to start a family. That strategic state intervention is what the Biden Administration is proposing. It is a neo-Keynesian model.

This is not democratic socialism coming to America, this merely an expansion of the social safety network.

It looks like elements of the ruling elites have finally recognized that the donkey they ride on as the owners of capital might die on them before they can extract more value from their labor. The blind market imperative towards capital accumulation will, unchecked by state intervention, permanently damage the capacity for social reproduction.

On the local scene, the town of Windsor is enmeshed in a heated recall campaign to remove Mayor Dominic Foppoli. The depth of community animus towards the disgraced Mayor is about as intense as Sonoma County politics gets.

Thankfully, I can afford to be amused from a distance about how ex-Republican Foppoli has used the Fox News playbook to confound all the local liberal Democrats. They would throw themselves under the bus if they did half of what Dominic is alleged to have done. He’s a dead man walking, of course, but he’s going to obstinately leave on his own timeline. A decent person would just quit.

Meanwhile the Republican-backed state recall of the Governor is foundering. The vaccine rollout has diminished the onerous public health restrictions on individuals and businesses, which was the psychological fuel for the discontent of a lot of low-information voters. It will fail.

 



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