The Monday Morning Teaser

This week’s big story was President Biden’s don’t-call-it-State-of-the-Union address to a joint session of Congress. No particular announcement in the speech was surprising, but his proposals for $4 trillion in new spending seemed to bookend Bill Clinton’s 1996 statement that “The era of big government is over.” Republicans were unable to mount a coherent critique, and there was no sign of the grass-roots uprising that Obama’s much smaller spending program had inspired in 2009.

My interpretation of this is that “The Reagan Era is Finally Over”. Ronald Reagan laid out a set of themes that dominated Republican politics (and even intimidated Democratic politicians) until 2016. But Trump laid waste to any principled Republican thinking, and replaced it with a cult of personality. The result is that when Biden proposes a liberal policy agenda, Republicans really have no basis for arguing against it.

Trump could do that because by 2015 supply-side economic orthodoxy had already reached the stage of Soviet Communism in the Brezhnev Era: Even the people repeating its slogans didn’t really believe in them any more. As president, Trump cut rich people’s taxes because he was rich and he wanted to pay less tax. McConnell and the rest of the Republicans got in line because their donors were rich and wanted to pay less tax. They might mouth platitudes about growth and an economic boom that would create jobs and wipe out the lost revenue, but everybody knew what the game was.

So when Biden announced Wednesday “Trickle-down economics has never worked”, there was no answering chorus of “Yes it has. Yes it does.” Of course it doesn’t. We all knew that.

Anyway, that post requires a history lesson that I’m still writing, so it probably won’t post until around 11 EST.

The weekly summary discusses some other issues in Biden’s speech and Tim Scott’s response, including what I see as a senseless debate over whether the US is a “racist country”, whatever that means. There’s also the FBI raid on Rudy Giuliani’s home and office, and what it might mean for Rudy’s legal jeopardy, and Trump’s. It was a good news/bad news week for the fight against Covid: Daily case numbers keep improving in the US, but getting worse worldwide. And we’re getting close to having vaccinated all the people who were eager to be vaccinated, but we’re still not at a herd immunity level. Florida continues to make a mockery of GOP rhetoric about “liberty”. This week they’re trying to dictate the policies of private companies like Facebook and Google. And we’ll close with a winged Cupid breaking out of a Rubens painting in the Brussels airport.

Let’s say that gets out between noon and 1.

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