Three times already in his brief tenure, President Biden has rolled out a far-reaching and extraordinarily expensive proposal to address large-scale problems in this country. First there was a $1.9-trillion plan to help individuals and businesses cope with the surging COVID-19 pandemic. Then there was a $2-trillion blueprint to build and repair American infrastructure, defined in unusually broad terms. Now comes a $1.8-trillion boost to programs that help American families, particularly those with low and moderate incomes.
The point of these efforts, Biden told a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, is to create millions of good-paying jobs for working-class Americans, and to help prepare the next generation for the competition to come.
These legislative proposals came on top of dozens of executive orders Biden has issued to target an array of problems related to climate change, immigration, gun violence, discrimination and health care, among other major issues.
For someone belittled during the campaign for allegedly having little energy and no ideas of his own, Biden has been remarkably active, ambitious and, for lack of a better word, wonky. But his work has given rise to a new criticism: that Biden has abandoned his campaign pledge to unify the country and make a hopelessly polarized government functional again. In the eyes of his Republican and right-of-center critics, the moderate Biden who won the presidency has been replaced by a radical.
The sheer size of Biden’s proposals has been remarkable, but put that in perspective. This country has a giant backlog of deferred maintenance work, not just on its crumbling asphalt, but on adapting its support system to today’s economy. The longer we wait to act, the bigger the ultimate bill will be. And with an election coming up next year that could end Democrats’ slim majorities in Congress, Biden has no time to waste.
The Los Angeles Times