Peter Morici: Biden needs a course correction or the Democrats face disaster
President Joe Biden needs a course correction, or the Democrats face disaster in the midterm elections. That’s tough with a cabinet and White House staff formed to appease woke progressives.
America’s hard left—like the hard right—is fundamentally protectionist and isolationist. In his State of the Union, Biden lauded Buy America—unions and other progressives view free trade as the devil’s work. The military is for parade grounds and pork barrel, not the defense of liberty, and the president has forsworn any direct U.S. military involvement in Ukraine.
For now, Biden enjoys a happy coincidence that his policy of relying on sanctions coincides the broader public sentiment, but what happens when the Zelensky government falls and is driven into the countryside to form a resistance? Russian treatment and conditions of Ukrainians in the cities will not be pretty, and continuing bloodshed and violence may well turn voters sour.
The precedent Biden has set for Taiwan, whose strategic importance as a semiconductor manufacturer is manifest, is downright menacing.
Biden has eschewed a no-fly zone over Ukraine, because it risks direct conflict with the Russian military. And Russian President Vladimir Putin is a paranoid, cornered leader who has brandished the nuclear option.
Concentration camps and genocide in Xinjiang illustrate Chinese President Xi Jinping is as capable of actions as evil as Putin. He could misread that similarly threatening to “push the button” would keep the Americans at bay if he chooses to take Taiwan by force.
The administration lacks a coherent strategy as Beijing threatens Taiwan with escalated military operations and builds hypersonic, antisatellite and cyber weapons. The latter could take out the Golden Gate Bridge, disable the navigation of the U.S. fleet during a conflict, and wreak havoc on the American power grid.
Putin has threatened with similar weapons and after defeats of American strategies in Afghanistan and Ukraine, Xi can similarly try to bully Biden.
Once Americans recognize China can capture Taiwan and controlling its semiconductor fabs could shut down the U.S. electronics and automobile industries, voter affection for Biden’s neglect of America’s defenses won’t help Democrats either.
Domestically Biden bet on COVID vaccines to enable a great reopening but was derailed by the delta and omicron variants. Now he has declared it’s time for Americans to return to their offices.
No doubt that will help the Democratic big-city mayors collect more sales taxes from weary commuters, but white-collar workers want to avoid the crime, tough drives and poor public transit those venues offer.
Biden would do better to champion a national initiative to accelerate the development and deployment of technologies to make telecommuting as seamless as possible.
Crime rages in cities that are captive to social justice governors, mayors and prosecutors, but Biden won’t challenge the hard-left theology that it’s all systemic racism. He says he is against defunding the police but does nothing to challenge the New York bail law that releases suspects in violent crimes onto the streets and progressive prosecutors elsewhere who won’t pursue criminals.
The crime issue will grip mightily in the fall campaign.
Biden boasts that the American Recovery Act and the Investment and Infrastructure Act will create growth and jobs. Although runaway inflation and falling real wages for ordinary workers have been instigated by pandemic supply-chain problems, those were greatly amplified by Biden’s overspending and printing-press monetary policy.
Now he wants to appoint new governors to the Federal Reserve who would further shift monetary policy toward stoking inflation, and curtail domestic energy production and promote social justice through the allocation of bank credit.
Meanwhile, investment bankers and private equity and high-tech executives get unconscionably richer, while the ordinary working folks Democrats’ progressive policies are supposed to help—blacks, Hispanics and working-class folks of any color—fall behind.
Religion without rice
In February recall elections, three progressive members of the San Francisco school board managed barely 25% of the vote in a jurisdiction Biden carried with 85% against Trump. They pandered to unions and focused on renaming schools and destroying artwork to uphold critical race theory when parents were rightly concerned about the destructive consequences of extended school closures on their children’s education and emotional development.
Unrepentant, Biden continues to practice the diversity-obsessed theology of the left, but voters—including Blacks and Hispanics—are growing weary of religion without rice. They will humiliate Biden and his Democrats’ false piety in the midterm elections.
Peter Morici is an economist and emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.
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