After year one, Biden’s not the FDR Vox wanted him to be

March 1, 2022

By John Ransom

Five times in Vox’s campaign year assessment of the type of president Joe Biden would make, Vox, at the urging of the Biden campaign, compared the president-to-be to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

FDR is the president who, more than any other, is responsible for the modern American welfare state. 

But a year into his presidency, as Biden prepares his State of the Union speech, maybe it’s a time for a head-check on the FDR talk. 

“Much like FDR faced a structural crisis of economic insecurity, we’re at a similar place,” Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein told Vice previously. “The vice president recognizes that the extent of market failure here is not something you can fix with a Band-Aid and that structural reforms are necessary.” 

And that, explains much of the trouble that Biden has in measuring up to FDR. 

Because America wasn’t facing a structural crisis of economic uncertainty in the 2020 election. 

It was facing a crisis created by a very temporary pandemic. If there was economic uncertainty in 2020, it was because the government—progressives mostly– created such uncertainty through lockdowns, shutdowns and mandates the likes of which no market, including the supermarket, was able to cope. 

As a reminder, at one point oil prices were negative. If you bought a barrel of oil on that day, you got a barrel of oil, plus $37.63 in cash money, which seems ludicrous today as oil shoots to $100 per barrel. 

But at the same time, you couldn’t buy toilet paper — even for $37.63 per roll. 

The plans detailed for Biden’s presidency came down to two visions according to Vox:

One involves sweeping investments in clean energy, new jobs, and a fast recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and recession.

The other involves McConnell forcing Biden into brutal, humiliating budget deals that usher in austerity and strangle the recovery in the crib.

Neither of those visions turned out to be correct, in retrospect. 

Biden started off with FDR-inspired scope, passing a $1.9 trillion bill in what was termed as pandemic relief because as everyone knew at the time, the real problem America had was a pandemic. 

“President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which he signed last month, is mammoth in scope — a number so large it can be hard to conceptualize in concrete terms,” said the Washington Post after passage. 

But as time would tell, and the pandemic refused to retreat despite the record spending bill, the only thing that was accomplished by the bill was in making inflation great again, in a way not seen since 1982. 

Toward all the fancy stuff that Biden promised in his Build Back Better plan which Vox promised would usher in the Age of Aquarius– outside of spending on roads and bridges, which was substantial– it wasn’t Mitch McConnel who killed those bills in their crib, but a pair of Democrats who had the good sense smother Biden’s plans with a pillow. 

In essence, Biden bankrupted himself on two big spending measures — pandemic stimulus and infrastructure spending —  both of which were FDR-like in scope, but Obamacare-like in execution. 

And by November, voters had seen enough. 

Biden was not elected to address supposed “market failures” alleged by progressive economists. Prior to the pandemic, unemployment was only 3.5% a number those same progressive economists, like Barack Obama, has said was impossible just a few years before.  

Biden was elected to address the pandemic and then do no harm, as the history of his legislation, both the wins and the losses, clearly prove.


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