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Congress – Covid-19 Relief- Senate- Jose Biden

March 8, 2021

TrueNewsBlog- TNB

TRUENEWSBLOG – Congress is about to pass and President JOE BIDEN is about to sign into law the greatest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ.

The bill extends far beyond stimulus payments and unemployment benefits that have received most of the attention: It would expand the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, provide more generous support for child-care expenses and bolster Obamacare to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

The government expansion is so broad that WaPo, reflecting the sensibility of most liberals, says it augurs “seismic shifts in U.S. politics” because the pandemic made Americans more pro-big government and more anti-austerity — perhaps permanently.

Meanwhile, the WSJ editorial page, a little late to the fight, decries “the Covid Welfare State,” and warns that the “$1.9 trillion Democratic bill provides a guaranteed income unlinked to work.”

As the bill moves through the House for a final vote this week, two big questions are on our minds: 1) How did Democrats win this fight over welfare while barely firing a shot? 2) Can they do it again?

On the first question, the conventional wisdom is sound: The twin crises of disease and recession boosted support for government intervention well beyond what has been tolerated for decades; DONALD TRUMP and the GOP’s own support for the last two bills depolarized the fight over this one; Biden’s opposition was distracted by internal divisions (Jan. 6, impeachment, McCarthy vs. Cheney, Trump vs. McConnell); and the conservative media was distracted by juicier fare than tax policy.  

If you’ve watched Fox News every night during the Biden presidency (we have), it’s that last point that’s the most notable. We’ve learned a couple of things: 1) The MyPillow guy has really expanded beyond pillows, and 2) Fox’s most-watched hosts care a lot more about cancel culture, Dr. Seuss and antifa’s alleged (but, according to the FBI, nonexistent) role on Jan. 6 than they do about Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

NYT’s Ezra Klein recently described this dynamic: “If you can dial down the conflict, you can dial up the policy.”

That seems wrong because it suggests that Biden can control the conflict knob. When faced with an economic crisis in 2009, BARACK OBAMA did not dial up the conflict. It’s just that he faced a united GOP that closely coordinated with a powerful media echo chamber that helped create a massive backlash to federal policies.

Can the White House replicate the successful Covid relief strategy with its coming jobs bill, which may have a similar price tag and even more ambitious policy goals? Given the role that conservative media plays in American politics, a lot depends on whether Fox and similar outlets start to realize that what’s being pushed through Congress is a lot more consequential than whether you can still buy “If I Ran the Zoo.”–


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