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Desperate Attempts to Turn the Tide of Bidenism


I was wondering why 538 would publish a piece arguing “sure Biden’s agenda is incredibly popular and people are really happy to have all this stuff from the government but it will surely backfire in the end.” And then, at the very end, we find out that 538 is now publish pablum from American Enterprise Institute hacks. Ah, well then. Quite the objective, numbers-driven data-forward mission fulfilled! Anyway, let’s look at this pathetic attempt to argue that this will backfire.

But if deficit spending and mounting debts no longer arouse ire among conservatives and trepidation among the public, that does not mean it never will. Reducing the deficit is not a high public priority, but a new Quinnipiac poll shows that 48 percent of Americans are worried that the Biden administration wants to spend too much money. Meanwhile, some prominent Senate Republicans are poised to take a stand against spending increases by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and rank-and-file Republicans have already become much more wary of deficit spending since Biden took office.

It’s very possible, then, that our era of more government intervention will be short-lived. That’s in large part because demand for more government intervention is cyclical. Nearly three decades ago, political scientist Christopher Wlezien found that public preferences for spending were inversely related to the overall amount spent. That is, when Congress is spending a lot of money, public support for spending drops, but when spending levels are low, the public wants a more generous government. In other words, what we could be seeing right now, according to Wlezien, is pent-up public demand for government to produce “bread-and-butter” policies that grew out of perceived inactivity during the Trump years. 

That means as Biden tries to pass an ambitious agenda to combat racial inequality, tackle climate change and fix a crumbling infrastructure, popular support for an active government may help him — as Wlezien told me, Biden could be “surfing the wave” of public support for government solutions. But in passing those policies, it’s also possible that Biden may undercut public support for government action. After all, many voters like a party until they’re in the business of governing.

Yeah, you wish.

Look, the sheer anger and hatred of the Republican base could easily lead to them taking the House and Senate in 2022, not because Biden isn’t popular but because lots of people are unlikely to vote. You know, being stupid and all and assuming that because Biden is president that everything’s more or less OK. But we are definitely back in an era of big government, no matter what the AEI hacks want to whine about. Even Trump, regardless of how he governed (if that’s what we are calling it), talked the language of giving the right people stuff. What this new attitude leads to is an open question. But right now, it’s leading to people wanting government to intervene in the economy for them. Why 538 decides to publish pieces that wish this wasn’t true, well, that’s a question we can ponder.

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