If, as expected, Biden’s American family plan included universal pre-K education and free community college, that would mean four more years of free schooling for millions of young Americans. As Rahm Emanuel told me, when was the last time we did something as big as this?
It is also a unifying program. Over the past decades, the economy has funneled money to highly skilled people who live in large metropolitan areas. It has created a ruinous class rupture that divides the country and fuels polarization. Biden’s measures would channel money to about two-thirds of Americans without a bachelor’s degree – who work on road crews, in manufacturing plants, care for the elderly, and are disproportionately unemployed.
It’s quite interesting to me that the Democrats, the party of the educated subway class, are promoting policies that would send hundreds of billions of dollars to Trump voters.
Because the Biden plan owes more to Hamilton than to socialism, it’s not just the progressives who love it, but the moderates as well. Jim Kessler, executive vice president of the moderate Democratic group Third Way, sent me an email this week with the subject line, “Why mods love the Biden jobs plan.”
Is it a risk? Yes, a big one. If your historical memory goes back only to 2009, then you think there is no risk in going too far on spending and debt. But history is filled with the carcasses of nations and empires that declined in part because they took on too much debt: imperial Spain, France in the 18th century, China in the 19th.
The Biden plan would make us invest money in some of our less efficient sectors. As Fareed Zakaria recently noted, US infrastructure projects often cost several times more than European projects. Adding just two miles of new track and three stations to New York’s subway system ended up costing $ 4.5 billion.
You can invest a lot of money in American infrastructure and get relatively little back.
But we’ve had 20 years of sluggish growth and a long period of slow productivity growth. The current trend lines cannot continue. These are necessary and plausible risks to be taken if America does not want to drift gently into this good night. Look at cities, like Fresno, California, and Greenville, South Carolina, which have come back to life in recent years. What did they do? They have invested in infrastructure and community colleges. The Biden plan is what has already worked locally, on a massive scale.
Sometimes you take the risk of pulling forward. The Chinese are convinced that they own the future. It’s worth taking this photo to prove them wrong.
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