The state of our union is bad

It was only a matter of time before the still-evolving national conservative bloc within the Republican Party began to loudly note that President Joe Biden was adopting some of the same policies they used to distinguish themselves from your father’s GOP: mercantilist trade, subsidies for US strategic manufacturing. , the unrelenting war on Beijing, the crabby attack on Big Tech, and—yes!—the protection of old-age entitlement programs.

“I was texting along [Chronicles magazine writer Pedro L. Gonzalez]”Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk Tweeted Late at night, “And we both thought Biden’s speech was, surprisingly,… kind of MAGA? It sounds weird but it’s true. Biden picked up themes from the nationalist movement and incorporated them into his speech.”

has been added The New York Times Conservative columnist Ross Douthat: “Biden just gave a State of the Union speech whose main themes and most passionate riffs could be lifted — albeit with more Bidenism and less insults — from Trump’s populist campaign.”

Whether Biden picked up from Trump and his back-filling ideologues, or whether the populist right learned from the trade-left the electoral joys of industrial policy and abuse of Social Security is a question for historians, or at least a question for those who point to Spider-Man. At Spider-Man Memes.

But the effects of this enthusiastic-if-turbulent policy embrace on the rest of us will now extend indefinitely into the future, more likely to stop only at external shocks than any major-party spade-work to prepare for the entirely predictable. , self-inflicted policy failures. Our long (and global) populist moment now looks like another era.

On the governance front, we should seek not just an extension of the status quo of Social Security and Medicare but an expansion of them. A decade or so from now, when either taxes will have to be raised, or benefits will be hit with an automatic 20 percent haircut, because we’ve been too busy “protecting” Social Security to actually fix its cruel demographic arithmetic.

Annual federal spending, which was about $2 trillion at the turn of the millennium, was then lifted to about $3 trillion under George W. Bush, by Barack Obama by the mid-30s, to over $4 trillion by Donald Trump, and then to over $6 trillion. A Trump/Biden response to COVID-19 would likely treat that latest level as a baseline, emphasizing the federal government’s standing historical claim for one-quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

Those deficit-spending expenses require huge amounts of debt. Let’s see, does it involve any bad results? “High and growing federal debt makes the economy more vulnerable to rising interest rates and, depending on how that debt is financed, rising inflation,” the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned earlier in 2019. Last year, in updating its long-term coronavirus spending forecast, the CBO opined that unless the current spending trajectory changes, “the potential for a financial crisis in the United States will increase. In particular, the risk of losing investor confidence in the ability of the U.S. government to deliver services and its debt will increase.” repayments, leading to sudden increases in interest rates and upward spirals of inflation, or other disturbances.” Whoah.

To the applause of many conservatives, Biden last night offered a long list of Made in America malarkey, maybe—they’ll work—this-Time price controls, and other regulatory micro-aggressions that would make both government and business unreasonably more expensive. “Almost all of President Biden’s economic proposals,” former Congressman Justin Amash Tweeted Last night, “will raise the cost of goods and services on Americans. Government intervention, whatever its purpose, almost always reduces competition and makes things more expensive, hitting those least hard off.”

A decade ago, Amash’s criticism of the Republican Party or Congress was not uncommon, but now he is a voice in the wilderness. This fact is obscured, especially on the journalistic left, by the thrilling spectacle of Uncle Joe laying a cunning trap for crazed GOP backbenchers. “Dirk Brandon Shows Up at State of the Union, Wipes the Floor with Lost Republicans”. USA Today Heading over a Rex Hupke piece.

Institutional journalism’s consistent policing of “platforms,” ​​eschewing “objectivity,” and bending facts in the name of protecting democracy all but guarantees an almost comical inability to read the Republican room. Hupke couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for Biden for “backing the whole party into a corner and vowing to protect their Medicare and Social Security benefits,” writing: “I’ve never seen anything like this in a State of the Union speech — they ran at him like a pack of lemmings and With a wink and a smile he politely pointed them towards the mountain.”

Yes, people, it’s such a ninja trick to agree with Republicans (check Comment) Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy!

Yet it’s true, and significant, that several House Republicans acted like a bunch of excited middle schoolers on Tuesday night, with Joe Wilson’s old “You are lying!“The furor against Obama in 2009 seems positively decorative in comparison. Part of modern populism is a disorienting and deliberately provocative style. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that we’ll see more of the kind of open fisticuffs involved during the 118th Congress. South Africa, Kosovo and With countries like Taiwan.

This is an alarming development, which threatens to become a vicious cycle. Biden ambitiously insisted last night that “political violence has no place in America.” Still, he was characteristically wrong about presenting the issue as politically one-sided, reducing Paul Pelosi’s deeply deranged attacker to “a relentless Big Lie assassin” and neglecting to even give a nod to Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R–La). ) who was literally in the audience and survived a politically motivated assassination attempt in 2017.

Conservatives are very willing to respond to democratic and media imbalances. Such a cowardly approach encourages more brazen behavior in the future. Democrats and journalists, on the other hand, are so fixated on Republican lunacy that Rep. Marjory Taylor Greene (R–Ga.) sees left-wing extremism as more virtue than vice.

Biden accused the GOP of “destroying the country”, accused congressional Republicans of trying to “destroy the economy”, accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Rick Abbott of “playing politics with the lives of their citizens, especially children” and social media companies ” accused of “murdering people”. As Trump calls the media or anyone else an “enemy of the state,” I’m sure it can be gratifying, even cathartic, for some viewers.

But basing political discourse on constant war, especially in a two-party system, is a recipe for exemplary growth. So we’ll probably have the worst of both worlds—a bipartisan community when it comes to ever-increasing government size, but then bitter and sometimes violent competition over who will protect Leviathan against their most hated domestic enemies. The economy will deteriorate, trust in all impartial institutions will decrease, corruption will increase.

Republican fever is such that the GOP is the only reasonable contender for the presidential nomination of course Show loudly that they are willing to arm the government against Jagano and other detractors. Democratic response requires maximum application of pejorative adjectives, open bribes to favored constituents (college grads, teachers unions) and permanent rejection of Econ 101.

In other words, it’s high time to touch the grass without getting caught up in national politics and start looking for a way out of the artificial irrational populism that surrounds us. Our state of the union has sucked since at least 2015, and it’s hard to imagine it opening up anytime soon.