President Joe Biden marked his 100th day in office last week with a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress. He spoke well. He was presidential — even though the words were carefully scripted and read from a teleprompter — because the warmth and sincerity of the delivery came from the man himself.
But what about the bold, progressive vision that he delivered? Can Biden really get congressional support for what likely amounts to a $6 trillion package of generation-changing social, educational, infrastructure and medical and aging programs? And what about his promise that none of it will have to be paid for by middle- and lower-income Americans?
Having already succeeded with his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, Biden promoted his massive $2.25 trillion, loosely defined infrastructure plan, as well as a new $1.8 trillion American Family Plan — adding up to numbers that take one’s financial breath away. All of this with the promise that it will be paid for by simply raising taxes on corporations and on Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year, raising capital gains taxes, closing the loopholes within the tax code and enforcing existing laws against individuals and companies.
But is America ready for the class warfare that the plan promises? And, is it such a good idea to remove many of the incentives that have prompted the most entrepreneurial among us to achieve extraordinary economic successes that have provided meaningful employment to millions of workers? And, more importantly, will the efforts generate enough new money to fund the promised new $6 trillion expense?
Fortunately, even Biden himself doesn’t appear to be fully committed to every part of the sweeping programs he has outlined — having invited those who disagree with his approach to propose alternatives, and pledging repeatedly to consider different approaches and to work across the aisle to find common ground. That is, of course, vintage Joe Biden — a master in the art of political compromise. We believe the offers to engage were genuine and encourage Republican leadership to act on them.
But there are some things raised in the speech that should not be compromised. The promise to increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service in order to enforce existing tax laws more fully against corporate and individual abusers is a good thing. Similarly, we endorse the idea of creating incentives for companies to keep their businesses in the United States, efforts to promote a “buy American” agenda and the commitment to examine carefully the multifaceted issue of capital gains tax treatment.
And if those efforts generate anywhere near the new revenue that the president promises, wouldn’t it make sense to devote a large portion of anything collected to pay off at least a portion of our ever-increasing federal budget deficit — projected to be in the range of $28 trillion? Our children will thank us.
As we await next steps, we hope that Democrats and Republicans will work to find common ground to make life better for all Americans.