Sunday, January 17, 2021

What Should Biden Do?

The Post asked me to contribute to a special issue of their magazine on what Biden should do once he's in office. The general idea for contributors was not just to recommend the obvious--beat the pandemic, restart the economy--but to come up with an idea that was less obvious but still very important. Below is my contribution, click through for all the various recommendations.
"When Joe Biden assumes office, job No. 1 will be to get the coronavirus crisis under control. Job No. 2 will be returning the economy to full employment and basic health — and more stimulus will invariably be needed to bring the economy back.
But how and where the money is spent will make a big difference. As much spending as possible should go toward ensuring that the economy, when functioning normally, produces better outcomes for left-behind workers and communities. This will not happen naturally, as we can see from the recent experience of the recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The economy recovered, albeit very slowly, but the economic gap between dynamic large metropolitan areas and the rest of the country — particularly rural and small-town America — widened. Democrats did very well indeed in the former in 2020 but managed only very modest progress, and sometimes none at all, in the latter.
Biden says he wants to be a president “who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States. And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.”
There’s really only one way to do this: bringing all parts of America forward to greater prosperity, rather than allowing the current geographic split in economic trajectory to continue. This could entail any number of steps — from universalizing broadband access in rural areas, to investing in rural colleges and infrastructure, to direct employment subsidies in distressed areas — but the important thing is to try. Contrary to the Zen precept, you can’t hit the target unless you’re aiming at it."

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