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Opinion |  What’s the secret to Biden’s success?


If you want to see Republican deafness in action, watch Senator Marsha Blackburn’s recent attack on the Jobs Plan. It’s not really an infrastructure issue, she proclaimed; why, he would spend hundreds of billions on elder care. And she apparently imagined voters would view helping the elderly as a bad thing.

Biden therefore has an advantage in having a non-threatening personality and an opposition that has forgotten how to present convincing political arguments. But Bidenomics’ popularity also reflects the effectiveness of a party much more comfortable in its own skin than it was a decade ago.

Unlike Republicans, Democrats are members of a normal political party – essentially a slightly center-left party that looks a lot like its counterparts in the free world. In the past, however, Democrats seemed afraid to embrace this identity.

In retrospect, one striking thing about the Obama years was the Democrats’ deference to people who did not share their goals. The Obama administration has deferred to bankers who have warned that anything that sounds populist will undermine confidence and to deficit booms demanding fiscal austerity. He wasted months on a doomed effort to gain Republican support for health care reform.

And with that deference came mistrust, a reluctance to do simple and popular things like giving people money and taxing businesses. Instead, the Obama team tended to favor subtle policies that most Americans hadn’t even noticed.

Now the deference is gone. Wall Street clearly has less influence this time around; Biden’s economic advisers obviously believe that if you build a better economy, trust will take care of itself. The obsession with bipartisanship also faded, replaced by a realistic appreciation of Republican bad faith, which also made the new administration disinterested in GOP talking points.

And the old distrust evaporated. Biden isn’t just going big, he stands to reason, with highly visible policies rather than behavioral nudges. Also, these straightforward policies involve doing popular things. For example, voters have consistently told pollsters that businesses pay too little tax; Biden’s team, backed by the failed Trump tax cut, are ready to give the public what they want.



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