KOLB: Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ Bill Will Mean ‘Bye, Bye Biden’

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Charles Kolb Charles Kolb was deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy from 1990-1992 in the George H.W. Bush White House
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Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former presidential candidate and leading progressive, is warning her fellow Democrats that they face a midterm election disaster this November unless … they continue doing more of precisely what got them into today’s political mess in the first place.

This advice isn’t just stupid; it’s suicidal. It also satisfies the well-known definition of insanity: continuing to pursue behavior that has previously failed while hoping the future will somehow be different.

The senator blames Congressional Republicans for blocking President Joe Biden’s big-spending, left-wing agenda on matters such as climate change, immigration, prescription drugs and, of course, the multi-trillion-dollar enterprise known as “Build Back Better” – which now is looking more like the “Bye, Bye, Biden” bill if it’s ever enacted.

Warren conveniently neglects to mention that Democrat senators like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema effectively blocked Biden’s agenda in an evenly divided Senate where losing just one Democrat vote means failure.

It’s not just Republicans who don’t like Biden’s policies; mainstream Democrats are increasingly concerned. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced her caucus to vote in favor of “Build Back Better.” They walked a perilous plank for nothing.

Will Chuck Schumer do the same in the Senate? Republican strategists like Karl Rove are openly praying that he does. That’s called doubling down on defeat.

FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith, who has built a phenomenally successful global transportation business that gives him deep insight into the microeconomic details of the U.S. economy, has said that had Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan passed and pumped an additional $2 trillion to $3 trillion (or even more) into the American economy, we’d be experiencing 25% inflation today rather than the already unsustainable nine or 10% that’s now a national reality.

The Biden White House and Congressional Democrats refuse to acknowledge reality. Mainstream Democrat economists like Obama administration alums Larry Summers (former Treasury Secretary) and Jason Furman (former Council of Economics Chairman) have warned that today’s inflation is serious and not transitory.

Moreover, with right track/wrong track polling showing nearly 70% of Americans believing the country is headed in the wrong direction, you’d think the White House would notice.

Instead, the internal Democratic disarray and debate continue with one side claiming the problem is communications (code for Americans are stupid and don’t appreciate the wonderful things Democrats have already accomplished and are planning next for them) and the other side claiming the problem is substance (code for Americans saying they don’t want high inflation, open borders, closed schools, and rising crime).

In reality, the Democrats’ current problems do stem from communications — but not the communications being debated by Democrats. The communications that are reaching literally all Americans are the price signals registering every second of the day as Americans purchase gas and groceries, pay their rents and utilities, and watch their long-overdue and hard-earned pay increases stolen by rising inflation.

Inflation wasn’t an issue under Trump. Today’s economy is Biden’s economy. Additionally, today’s low unemployment – a positive sign Democrats tout – is the result of lax Federal Reserve monetary policy and massive deficit spending. Don’t expect it to last once the recession projected by Deutsche Bank and other analysts arrives.

Every American no doubt has an inflation example. Here’s mine: a specialty sandwich – a classic grilled turkey Reuben — that used to cost me $7.99 in March rose to $9.99 in April. That’s far more than the 8.4% consumer price increase chalked up for March. There are millions of examples like this one, and each purchase these days drives home to American consumers (and voters) that Biden’s economic policies are harming them personally.

Biden and the Democrats have an agenda, but it’s an agenda dramatically at odds with the electorate’s current desires. There are reasons why more independent, Black, and Hispanic voters are signaling their intentions to vote Republican this November.

The dilemma for Democrats is that they are rapidly running out of time to change course. First quarter economic growth this year turned a negative 1.4%, a huge economic surprise and a major political headache. A second successive negative quarter means a recession.

Welcome to the new old world of “stagflation” – the combination of stagnant growth plus high inflation. Biden is building back for sure – back to the 1970s. The president might want to consult former President Jimmy Carter about how that combo played out for him.

Charles Kolb served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy from 1990-1992 in the George H.W. Bush White House