Government Watch / Opinion / Politics

Heavy-handed Bureaucracy is Set for a Comeback Under Biden

bidenBarack Obama had a nickname for the highly credentialed economists who surrounded him during his first term. He called them “propeller heads.” It was his way of joshing—and asserting superiority over—figures such as Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and other wonks with impeccable CVs and intimidating confidence in their own opinions. The label reduced these résumé gods to propeller-beanie geeks. Like most Obama statements, it was also a self-flattering way for the president to demonstrate the value he places on intellection, data, and expert knowledge. He and his fellow progressives love the idea that reason, logic, and science legitimize the power they wield through law and bureaucratic diktat.

The public wasn’t so enamored. The weaknesses of the propeller heads became evident over time. No doubt because of their glorious self-image, the propeller heads assumed that government could easily implement their ambitious theories and complicated schemes. They assumed that human beings could be “nudged” into desired behaviors. They placed one set of values—efficiency, equality, safety, carbon or gender neutrality—ahead of others, especially individual freedom and religious liberty. They neglected or waved away unanticipated consequences. They treated disagreement or disobedience as irrational or pathological—a manifestation of racism or sexism or greed. They often went ahead with their plans regardless of disapproval or rejection.

The propeller-head mentality is “we know best.” It dominated the administration. It produced a stimulus that did not stimulate, an unpopular health care plan, a contraceptive mandate that inspired lawsuits against nuns, a cap-and-trade bill that never became law, a financial reform that squeezed community banks, a GM bailout that stiffed non-union pensioners, a series of coal and water regulations that put miners and farmers out of business, an immigration amnesty by fiat that set off a rush for the border, and a nuclear deal that rewarded Iran for its malign behavior. Perhaps the most significant consequence of the imperious and heavy-handed manner in which experts ruled during the Obama years was the political reaction it inspired. The propeller heads like to believe they are the stewards of a healthier, cleaner, safer, saner world. But they are really the midwives of national populism, the doulas of Donald Trump.

And now they are set for a comeback. When you read the Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations, go over Biden’s potential cabinet picks, or examine the membership of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, you see the outlines of an administration committed to the same technocratic principles and top-down, uniform, centralized style of governance as its Democratic precursor. In some cases—if Susan Rice becomes secretary of state, for example—the very same people will be in charge. In other cases, the personalities will be new, but the methods will be similar.

The center-left views of academic, media, and cultural and foreign-policy elites will be ratified as sacrosanct. Officials will attempt, not always successfully and with unpredictable effects, to turn these opinions into policy, through legislation if possible but through regulation mostly. Dissenting forces will be problematized as disingenuous, malevolent, or not entirely sane. The one place where the public will be able to register its opposition is the voting booth.

Many opinion leaders in Washington dispute the above scenario. They point to Biden’s reputation as a moderate, to his decades-long relationship with Mitch McConnell, to the constraints he will face with a narrow House majority and a potential Republican Senate. They hope that the establishment, restored to its former fading glory, will reassert its control and “turn down the temperature.” Biden, they add, will have a “caretaker presidency.” He and McConnell will work out some small-bore tax changes. Maybe an infrastructure plan will pass. Otherwise things will drift merrily along, with Trump tweeting furiously from the sidelines.

My pundit friends forget the nature of the propeller heads. The propeller heads know they are right—their degrees and titles and offices and accolades prove it. They know that government exists to perform the functions of social uplift and rational control. They are not about to sit back and let the Delaware gang and the apex predator of American politics run the show. There’s a virus to crush, a climate to save, a liberal international order to rebuild.

Two of Biden’s appointees to the COVID-19 transition advisory board, for instance, support another national lockdown. Will Biden overrule them as cases mount and the media call for something to be done?

Biden’s deputy campaign manager told Chuck Todd the other day that her boss “campaigned on an incredibly progressive and aggressive agenda” and that “he’s going to make good on those commitments,” including his “big, aggressive” climate plan. Will Biden stand aside as this agenda runs into the maw of Joe Manchin and the Senate Republicans? Or will he say that he, too, has “a pen and a phone” and instruct his EPA and Energy Departments to act accordingly?

It was recently disclosed that Iran has 12 times the nuclear material allowed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and installed advanced centrifuges in its underground research facility. The theocratic government of Ayatollah Khamenei is isolated internationally. Its economy is under tremendous strain from American sanctions. And Biden and his team are ready to reenter the nuclear deal if Iran will have them, rewarding an authoritarian state sponsor of terrorism in order to demonstrate to Europe that “America is back.”

“There’s nothing more dangerous than a propeller head who doesn’t know his limitations,” David Brooks wrote in 2009. Today’s propeller heads are more ambitious than they were a decade ago. And far more moralistic. Come January, they will return to their old offices and resume their old games. Sure, a few of the names will be different. But the results will be the same.

Reprinted with Permission from - AEI by - Matthew Continetti

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Elena Tellez
2 months ago

I hold out hope Rudy will be able to prove his cases… and Biden et al will be relegated to the scrap heap where they belong (and I cleaned that up considerably)! If not… we’re in trouble unless we fight back immediately. We absolutely can’t let this happen. Let’s band together to keep our wonderful ‘American experiment’ going for another 200 years…

David P Nelson
2 months ago

(If) Harris/Biden LEGALLY become our Leaders I feel America will be in grave danger of a Socialist Government.

2 months ago

Biden is a puppet for the far left dems and he will do what is is told. He has no backbone and he can’t remember where he is half the time. Sleepy Joe will be in a Nursing home or passed away before his term ends.

Bob L.
2 months ago

The “propeller heads” can have an alphabet soup of letters behind their names, but if common sense isn’t included, the rest are mute.
The “propeller heads” can be very much like a helicopter, a craft that doesn’t really fly but only beats the air into submission and falls if the power or other critical parts fails. Likewise their ideas are as fragile as a helicopter’s and only fly as long as forces like unlimited deficits and money creation are applied until those will eventually fail too.

aluminum head
2 months ago

All you “bloggers’ ( foggers ) need to wake up. Trump is a VERY smart guy. He set up an exec. order that is going to crush the ( D ) communist party of Amer. You just watch. It’s a long ways off for Jo(k)e to Jan. 20th. His party will never get there. Exec. Ord.

Bill Brown
2 months ago

The vast majority of Mail-In Ballots were not approved by their State Legislature and are therefore not Constitutional!!! Get this issue to the Supreme Court and America’s battle is WON and the cheating DemocRat/Communists LOSE!!!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
2 months ago

At this moment, the only thing that is certain is that the majority of Americans have been brainwashed by the Mass Media, the Education Unions, and the Entertainment Industry!!  Fact, the DemocRat Party has become the Communist Party in America!!!  The “ole line” Republicans have also become Communists!!!  No voter who has not been brainwashed “could possibly vote DemocRat”!!!!  Trump Republicans are TRULY become the only Americans left!!!!!  We must be ready to “Take-up Arms and FIGHT!!”  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution Version 2!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for America!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
2 months ago

The DemocRats/Communists and Media are controlling the Swamp!! Their funding is primarily from international sources, Soros and ChiComs!! The DOJ knows most of the Monies are international and therefore are illegal but are doing nothing!! The SWAMP refuses to enforce our laws!!! We must be ready to “Take-up Arms and FIGHT!!”  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution Version 2!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for America!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

2 months ago

Am I missing something or are we giving up just when Sydney has enough to dismiss the election? Why are we accepting the media diagnosis of this election?

JJ Johnson-Smith
2 months ago

They did NOT win, they CHEATED. They lied, stole, threatened, and bullied. Do NOT let them convince the People that they ran an honest campaign, they can’t even do THAT in a little rural town of less than 2000 people! NO Democrat that holds office won that election without cheating, it’s the ONLY way they CAN win! Keep the HEAT ON and take our election and our country BACK!

Danny Estridge
2 months ago

Kinda just feel sorry for Biden, he reminds me of people that take advantage of the elderly, all they want is everything we worked for for all of our lives without paying into the system. Hate saying this, I don’t like using God’s name, but in this case I have to say God Help Us. The Lord and me really don’t pray, we just talk and I give Thanks For Him Watching Over Me. We’ve kinda fought so much over the years, I used to be a Doc and would fight Him over every patient, sometimes He’d let me win, but we bith knew who was in charge and it wasn’t me. If I was still a doc I’d be fighting God everyday over patients. Seems stupid huh? He always does the best he can with this idiot that Luv’s Him.

John A. Fallon
2 months ago

Socialist/dems have been stealing elections for decades at every level of government, only because PRESIDENT TRUMP fought back that people are beginning to see the truth, the msm has ALWAYS gone along with this criminal activity and helped evil destroy this nation, if the left steals this election we will be controlled by china and all these GROSSLY OVERPAID MORONS in the news media will no longer be necessary and they like thier idiot cousins in entertainment? WILL be the first to have thier wealth re-distributated and begin thier new jobs sweeping out factories because they are too stupid to do anythibg else.

Matthew Gabor
2 months ago

From my reading of all past and present Socialist countries the leaders knew just how to do it in steps. Start out by convincing people you know what is best for them and the government will pay for everything etc. Then little by little the Socialists take away guns, property, money and rights while brainwashing people that the government is helping them. After being lied to over and over again the people believe the government and become complacent with their new lives in Communism. During the Nuremburg Trials it was learned how the Germans lied to the Jewish people over and over again so there was little resistance. We have seen in our public schools and universities the real history of America has been rewritten to make it easier to brainwash the younger generations into accepting Socialism. We conservatives have to keep praying continually for America!

Lucy Lee
2 months ago

God help us all if this comes to pass

Alan Seitel
2 months ago

We are screwed.

Michael Venaccio
Reply to  Alan Seitel
2 months ago

Only if we let oversells be by not taking advantage of all legal means available.

Kristine Wright
2 months ago

All of the things we write about here should be written to The White House for Donald Trump. Write. Write . Write. He needs our help and support. He needs to know what we think.

2 months ago

Disgusted at how our journalism, media, has been politicized. Along with our law enforcement being weaponized against those with whom they disagree. No accountability, where am I?

Michael Venaccio
Reply to  Sarita
2 months ago

Maybe do not watch them and then boycott their advertisers. 73 million + people not buying certain products may get their attention.

Joseph Michael Loglisci
2 months ago

Win or lose in court, it is still mind boggling how so many could vote for these people!
U.S. voters have really been “dumbed down” through the years, and they will eventually rue the day when they realize what their lack of voter education has wrought!

Last edited 2 months ago by Joseph Michael Loglisci
2 months ago

With a Biden Presidency, his administration will go against ensuring Israel that the U.S. will have their back. When we turn our back on Israel, nothing else will matter at this point. God’s vengeance will reign upon this nation to bring total destruction against it. May not happen right away but it is assured. Look up for your redemption draweth nigh. I pray it won’t happen this way in my lifetime and that God will intervene and forgive this nation and destroy our enemies.

Dr Timothy-Allen Albertson
2 months ago

Why can’t the bureaucrat play in the sandbox?
Cats keep covering [preferred PC personal pronoun] up.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dr Timothy-Allen Albertson