On Wednesday night, President Biden turned what could have been a moment of triumph into 70 minutes of harumph. His Address to Congress had only about half the number of viewers as Trump’s first speech to Congress and was down nearly 30 percent compared to Trump’s State of the Union just last year. Biden garnered a truly pathetic audience of 26.9 million, compared with approximately 40 million-50 million in the last four years of Trump. Thus Biden’s speech was likely the least-watched Address to Congress in modern history–by a longshot.
It seems that 100 days into his administration, almost no one cares to hear what the new president has to say.
The chamber was nearly empty. The proposals were even emptier.
“America is on the move again,” Biden said, leaving out how far left he wants us to move. He described the first hundred days of that journey as a period of “rescue and renewal.”
But the things Biden is rescuing and renewing are left-wing ideas that have been declared dead so many times for so many years that they can’t even vote in Chicago.
For Americans who don’t follow politics closely, this is what whiplash feels like.
As a candidate, the media told us Biden was the second coming of Bill Clinton, promising to incorporate popular Republican proposals into his agenda. Now that he’s president, he sounds like the second coming of George McGovern.
In his campaign, Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it.” In his address to Congress this week, Biden promised to “end cancer as we know it.” Of course, we all hope to end cancer. As a goal, it’s laudable. As another entry on Biden’s utopian big government wish-list, it’s laughable. Biden had that portfolio as Vice President–when Barack Obama used practically the same applause line in his speeches.
But as long as we’re making promises and spitballing ideas, why stop with cancer? Why not spend a quadrillion or two? Why not promise the end of loneliness, bleakness, and baldness? Let’s make 8-minute abs 5-minute abs once and for all!
Those of us who remain boringly tethered to reality watched the address, wondering the same thing over and over again. How on earth will we pay for all this?
Biden repeated his promise not to raise any taxes on “people making less than $400,000” per year. But even if we put aside massive non-tax costs his agenda will impose on families under that threshold in mandates like job-killing minimum-wage increases; we see the same essential fact.
It simply doesn’t add up.
Biden’s three big agenda items so far—the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan—cost $6 trillion. But these are just his top three priorities in his first 100 days.
If Joe Biden’s ultimate spending binge turns out to be just one-third as radical as Bernie Sanders’ $97 trillion plan, that’s still over $30 trillion.
Despite the rhetoric, we cannot tax the wealthy enough to pay for this, even if we call it their “fair share.” Taxes must increase for working for middle-class families.
Even if we raised the tax rate to 100 percent and confiscated every penny of net worth belonging to the top 1 percent of Americans, we’d only rake in about $34 trillion.
Think about that. In an alternate dimension—but one getting closer and closer to our own—if the IRS formed wealth squads and went door to door in Greenwich, Palm Beach, and Malibu and snatched all the income and bank accounts, homes and cars, boats, and artwork, and, magically, that scheme had zero impact on our economy otherwise, we might have just enough for a down payment on the left’s agenda.
Of course, it wasn’t all unspooled tripe. To his credit, Biden framed our recovery as one test in our ongoing competition with China. This was a natural opportunity for Biden to show some bipartisanship and praise his predecessor.
After all, we only started grappling with China’s rise realistically because of the Trump administration. After writing that great-power competition “no longer exists,” Barack Obama’s administration acted like they actually believed that. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work even said that competition, as a word, “didn’t convey what we were trying to do.”
Competition perfectly conveyed what the Trump administration tried to do. But Biden offered no credit to his predecessor for Trump’s much-needed course correction.
In fact, if Biden had stronger communication skills and less fear of the reflexively anti-American voices who enjoy COVID-generated power in his own party, this could have been a victory speech in that competition.
As the public becomes fully vaccinated, and normal life returns, this is a story of American innovation saving the world from a dangerous byproduct of communist repression.
If we find ourselves engaged in a new cold war, can’t you just hear Ronald Reagan gleaming at the podium, saying, “this pandemic began in China, and it’s ending in America”?
Instead, Biden was most passionate when he closed by saying, “We the People are the government. You and I…It’s us!” This eerie turn of phrase, uttered by a 48-year professional politician to a room full of other professional politicians, wouldn’t have made it through the first round of edits in previous Democratic administrations.
It’s the more serious and more sinister version of an old, cringe-inducing line, often attributed to Barney Frank, that “government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”
For those who say drawing parallels between the left today and the destructive socialism of failed communist states goes too far, let phrases like “we the people are the government” sit with you for a moment.
If you put that phrase on a poster, the hammer and sickle will draw themselves. Just don’t ask how we the people will pay for it.
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