Update 466: How to Restart Stalled Economy?
Biden, Democrats Outline Recovery Plans
Last night, Democrats across the country watched as Vice President Biden took the stage to deliver his keynote address. He met the moment with poise, painting a detailed picture of a future without Trump. But his message reassured with clear vision. He presented a well thought-out economic plan for fighting COVID, creating jobs, and investing in infrastructure.
After a year of uncertainty and angst on all sides, the American people heard plans and priorities from a nominee and Party offering new leadership. This week’s virtual Democratic National Convention highlighted the differences between the president we now have and the president we could have instead. The GOP will try to make its case next week.
Good weekends, all…
The first virtual Democratic National Convention is in the books. While Monday and Tuesday focused more on delivering a unifying appeal to progressives and disaffected Republicans, the last two nights gave Democrats the opportunity to pitch their vision of a Biden presidency. Below, we explore the economic policy highlights from the second half of the Convention.
An Economy Working for Women
This year, women shattered records for political giving and ran for office in unprecedented numbers, emphasizing their crucial role in the Democratic Party. This very week marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification. The third night of the convention celebrated this anniversary with a slate of women speakers, covering issues ranging from the economy to climate change.
Building on the Nineteenth Amendment’s expansion of the franchise, Wednesday focused on the right to vote and the preservation of our democracy. Breaking with presidential custom, former President Barack Obama excoriated Trump’s character and administration. Obama warned of Trump’s willingness to “tear down our democracy” by disenfranchising millions of Americans. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton linked policy issues like social security and economic justice to the vote in November, asking viewers to “vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”
Policy was front and center on Wednesday. Speakers discussed two key economic issues at length:
- Relief for Small Businesses: While the stock market booms, small businesses are going bust. Twenty to thirty percent of them may close for good before the end of the year. Rep. Axne, Sen. Brown, and Mayor Garcetti led a section spotlighting small businesses across America. One black small business owner spoke about her difficulties getting loans, saying that “as an African American business owner under Trump… I feel alone.” The Paycheck Protection Program has struggled to reach minority-owned businesses. In his Build Back Better Plan, Biden promises a relief package to rescue main street businesses.
- Affordable Child Care: Former Labor Secretary Solis and Sen. Warren mentioned Biden’s plan for universal preschool. This will cost around $775 billion and is critical to promoting women’s economic empowerment, especially for low-income and minority women. Drawing on her own experience, Warren spoke to the millions of working mothers struggling to balance their jobs and caregiving responsibilities.
Sen. Kamala Harris closed the night with her acceptance speech, becoming the first African American and South Asian woman Vice Presidential candidate for a major party. Part autobiographical and part policy, Harris’ speech connected her life to the broader struggle for racial equality in America.
The Man With An Economic Plan
The final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention centered on character, unity, and a path forward.
Sen. Coons of Delaware kicked off the evening by describing his friend as a sincere, morally-upright individual guided (but not clouded) by his faith. Combat veterans Mayor Buttigieg and Sen. Duckworth spoke to Biden’s ability to restore leadership to the Oval Office. Biden’s principled approach to his role as Commander-in-Chief will stand in stark contrast to the rash, self-serving positions taken by President Trump.
At the end of the night, Vice President Biden took the stage. His speech outlined a vision for a more inclusive economy and a presidency defined by “jobs, dignity, respect, and community.” Biden’s clear delivery mitigated any lingering concerns about his cogency and reinforced his capacity for empathy, decency, and optimism.
Just as importantly, after appealing to voters to “choose the path of hope and light” and laying out the case against his opponent, Biden outlined his economic plan:
- Controlling COVID: Rebuilding faith in government and building a more progressive economy starts with a coherent COVID approach. “After all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well I do,” Biden said. Biden’s COVID policy has been under development since March, and a Biden administration will hit the ground running.
Biden promised to make his COVID containment policy his top priority on day one. Biden pledged to “remove the muzzles” from public health experts, implement nationwide rapid testing and contact tracing program, and leverage the power of the federal government to produce and procure PPE.
- Providing Jobs: Last week, for the 22nd week in a row, more Americans filed for unemployment than during the worst week of the Great Recession. State and local governments are still suffering sharp revenue declines. At the same time, Republicans and the Trump administration have moved to cut unemployment benefits and are refusing relief for state and local governments. Biden promised a $2 trillion infrastructure investment and five million new manufacturing and technology jobs.
- Buying American: Biden pledged that his administration will support American manufacturing. On the campaign trail, he has promised to tighten “Buy American” laws and to spend $400 billion on domestic goods and services and $300 billion on research and development.
- Building Back Better: Biden drew a parallel between his economic message and FDR’s New Deal. Biden plans to invest upwards of $4 trillion in infrastructure and clean energy, support domestic manufacturing, and empower labor unions. But Biden went further Thursday night, outlining a progressive, populist economic message. His administration will expand access to child care, increase the minimum wage, and work to narrow the racial wealth gap.
- A More Equitable Tax Code: Biden will need to increase taxes to pay for much of his economic agenda. He plans to roll back the TCJA and raise taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Biden said he was, “not looking to punish anyone…but we don’t need a tax code that rewards wealth more than work.”
- Saving Social Security: Biden promised to protect the “sacred obligation” of Social Security. Two weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order deferring some employee-side payroll tax obligations to the end of the year. The payroll tax is the primary source of funds for Social Security. Trump’s desire to make these cuts permanent would decimate the program.
“Text Vote to 30330”
Every night of the convention reinforced one plea: vote and vote early. In 1920, progressive Democrats succeeded in extending the franchise to women. Later, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson led in the fight to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This year, as Trump threatens to defund the USPS and undermines the legitimacy of votes not yet cast, the ballot itself is on the ballot.
In the wake of this year’s Convention, Americans are left with a clearer picture of Joe Biden’s empathetic attitude and earnest policy solutions to the health and economic crises. Compared to Trump’s confused and self-centered approach to the pandemic, Biden’s plan to Build Back Better provides hope that we can move rapidly toward a sustainably and equitably rebuilt economy and democracy.