Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Like Talleyrand’s Bourbons, the Democrats have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Still remembering the heady Obama years, the Biden administration is working full bore on a program of not just replicating Obama’s policies, but multiplying their ambitions and costs despite forgetting their manifold failures. At the same time, Biden and the Dems obviously have learned nothing from Obama’s missteps in handling the Great Recession and disastrous Iran deal, and Donald Trump’s success in correcting those mistakes.
At a moment when the economic recovery from the pandemic downturn is starting to gather steam, such old feckless economic policies, if enacted, will also duplicate the malign consequences of Obama’s: one of the most sluggish recoveries from a recession on record, leading to unnecessary damage to the economy and workforce. And working to return to the Iran Deal will hasten a thug regime’s possession of nuclear weapons, and increase its regional disruptive adventurism.
Obama came into office in 2009 when the Great Recession was five months from ending.
Rather than using control of the whole government to pass policies, such as tax cuts, that would have strengthen the recovery, Obama instead hijacked one-sixth of GDP by passing Obamacare, a Rube Goldberg bill so complex and ill-written that it took over 40 signing orders from Obama to fix it. Then he added a near-trillion-dollar “stimulus” binge with “clean energy” subsidies and “investment” capital for political favorites, the famous “shovel ready jobs” that Obama chuckled weren’t so shovel-ready.
Finally, in a still-fragile economy, Obama also instituted during his tenure a total of 21 tax increases, in addition to thousands of new regulations and rules that added trillions of dollars of cost to the economy. As a result, the recovery of the recession was the slowest since WWII, impacting workforce participation, unemployment, and wage growth.
That history hasn’t deterred Biden’s advisors, who are doubling- and tripling-down on Obama’s program. Having already passed a $1.9 trillions covid “relief” bill stuffed with pork, he’s now working on another $2.3 trillion “crony anti-infrastructure” bill, as economist Veronique de Rugy calls it, less than 5% of which is for roads and bridges. Another trillion is scheduled to be passed by August.
Moreover, James Freeman reports, according to a Wharton study, Biden’s claim of 19 million new jobs the bill will create––not to mention that the same Moody’s study Biden relies on says over the ten-year life of the bill 16 million jobs would be created if the bill wasn’t passed––is patently false. Hourly wages would go down just under one percent, as would GDP. And don’t forget the planned increases on personal and corporate tax rates, policies sure to further burden the economy as it’s still emerging from the covid doldrums.
As well as failing to forget past mistakes, the Dems learned nothing from the Trump administration’s success in correcting Obama’s blunders and using tax reform, including lowering the corporate tax-rate, to make the economy more competitive, and to restore its “animal spirits.” We all know what happened: restored economic growth, lower unemployment, more jobs, higher wages, and exploding stock prices. The economic expansion that covid ended in March of last year was the longest in U.S. history. The lesson Dems refuse to learn is that you have to feed an expansion, not choke it with anti-growth policies.
So too with Biden’s foreign policy, particularly the Iran nuclear deal. His team remembers the rhetoric and stale “diplomatic engagement” magical thinking that drove Obama to join an agreement that rivals Munich in its feckless appeasement. Despite the mullahs’ arrogant demands that sanctions be lifted even before starting another round of duplicitous talks, the Biden team has sent a representative to Vienna to join the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany to get the talks restarted. The administration is anxiously soliciting Iran and promising more bribes to an apocalyptic, anti-Semitic cult that has been at war with this country for 42 years, sponsored terrorists, violently interfered in Syria and Lebanon, and serially threatened Israel, our most import ally in the region.
And Iran’s intransigence is working. A State Department flak recently announced, “We are prepared to take the steps necessary to return to compliance with the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], including by lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JVCOP.” That last phrase refers to Trump’s additional harsher sanctions as part of his “maximum pressure” tactic against the mullahs. This phrase clearly is a signal that Biden’s conditions for reengaging in talks such as stopping enrichment of uranium to weapons’ grade levels, are flexible.
More worrisome, this outreach comes at a time when Iran has signed an agreement to sell China petroleum products, with China pledging $400 billion that will ease the bite of Trump’s effective sanctions. The deal also contains provisions for deepening military, security, and defense ties, including weapons sales. In other words, just as Iran’s capacity for geopolitical, anti-American mischief has been enhanced by China, Biden is working to give the mullahs even more funds and scope for working against our national security and interests.
Here, too, Biden and the Dems have learned nothing from Trump. Trump walked away from the JCPOA because it was transparently an act of appeasement that created a fast-track for the mullahs to acquire nuclear weapons. He imposed sanctions that denied oil income to Iran and punished its ruling cabal. Aggression was met with punitive operations, the most spectacular being the killing of Republican Guard generalissimo Qasem Soleimani, an action Dems called an “assassination” that would spark a regional war, which of course it didn’t any more than moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem did. Trump’s policy had weakened Iran and its ability to fund foreign adventurism and its nuclear program. And it sent a deterrent message that challenging the U.S. and its military would bring a costly response.
All that now has been squandered even before Biden formally rejoins the pact. Imagine how much bolder and more dangerous Iran will be after the sanctions are gone and its revenues restored.
Projecting strength rather than weakness is the most important lesson that the Dems for decades have failed to learn. We saw the evidence a few weeks ago when our Secretary of State could respond to a Chinese minister’s slandering our country to his face only by squeaking that at least we learn from them. We might think such a confession to be a sign of strength, but the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians, and probably many of our allies know it’s a sign of weakness and an eagerness to buy peace with appeasement. But though the cost of such concessions may seem a bargain at the time, eventually it becomes exorbitant.
The Bourbons who briefly restored the French monarchy had forgotten nothing of their lost aristocratic glory and privileges, and learned nothing from the world-changing French Revolution and dictatorship of Napoleon. Similarly, today’s Dems have forgotten nothing from their glory days of Obama’s two terms, and learned nothing from Trump’s populist repudiation of those times and its anointed heir, Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, if Biden succeeds in this return to failure, it will be the American people, today and in the future, who will pay the price.