Joe Biden’s Dangerous First Month
Welcome to ‘America Last’.
Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The collateral damage of the Democrats’ irrational obsession with Donald Trump includes Trump’s transformative policies that rescued both an underperforming economy, and a foreign policy dangerously mired in stale “new world order” narratives. In just one month the extent of the Dems’ damage is obvious, with more to come if Biden’s plans can secure legislative approval.
Exhibit One is the COVID relief and stimulus grift, a near $2 trillion boondoggle crammed with payoffs to political clients like blue-state governments to pay for goodies that have nothing to do with the virus––like nearly $1 trillion in spending for state and local governments and housing aid, and including $130 billion for schools, even though between $53 and $63 billion remains unspent from last year’s COVID Education Relief Funds. There’s also dough for Medicaid expansion, nutrition assistance programs, and raising the tax credits for dependent children––the usual bribes doled out by redistributionist progressives. And don’t forget the $1 billion for “vaccines confidence activities,” that is, progressive marketing “nudges” to get people to do what government wants.
Coming after the previous administration’s largesse, this new binge is reprehensible. At least last spring there was a reason for spend money to mitigate the economic impact of the lockdowns in lost jobs and shuttered small businesses. The December bill was more problematic, but handing out money near an election is too useful to give up. But now, when we are closer to easing the lockdowns and getting the economy back to speed, is not the time to load up on even more debt and distort the market with “stimulus” money that rarely stimulates the economy while rewarding partisan clients. And given that by some estimates $1 trillion in various relief and stimulus programs from last year hasn’t been spent or is unaccounted for, borrowing even more is fiscal malfeasance.
Finally, remember that if this bill passes, another $2 trillion will be piled onto our $27 trillion national debt, now surpassing GDP for the first time since World War II. The inevitable reckoning for this chronic bipartisan debt and deficit binge––along with unfunded federal liabilities and the collision of entitlement spending with a growing and longer-living population of recipients–– will now be much closer.
Next, Biden is taking steps to implement the economy-killing, multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal’s war on fossil fuels. He has banned fracking and drilling on federal lands, cancelled the Keystone Pipeline, rejoined the pointless Paris Accords, and instructed every federal agency to make “climate change” a priority. In other words, the cheap energy that fueled the last two centuries of astonishing economic growth and lifted billions out of poverty will be targeted for elimination, threatening our own economic growth and efficiency, and stalling economic growth in the developing nations who cannot afford the trendy “sustainable energy” and electric cars that are luxuries for the rich and well-fed West.
Worse yet, the reasons for this economic self-immolation––the catastrophic consequences of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere––comprise dubious science propped up with sketchy evidence and gamed computer models. Don’t take my word for it. The late S. Fred Singer, one of the most consequential physicists of the postwar period, for forty years had exposed the shoddy science and crass political agenda of Anthropogenic Catastrophic Global Warming. In the third edition of his Hot Talk, Cold Science, he lays out the scientific facts that challenge this hypothesis so dear to the globalist elite ever eager for a crisis to justify expanding their power over people, governments, and business.
Yet the behavior of warmists when confronted with skeptics gives the game away. The legitimate “Method of science,” as Karl Popper wrote, “is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” With the climate-change industry, however, the skepticism at the heart of scientific progress has been met with ad hominem attacks and professional censorship. Critics are slandered as “deniers,” a vicious slur implying Holocaust denial, or as paid stooges of the fossil-fuel industry. But most damning of all is the fact that even if ACGW is true, and the U.S. institutes every policy of the Green New Deal and the Paris Climate Accords, global temperatures would not stop rising, given that gigantic emitters like China and India will not join the West in committing economic suicide.
Moreover, the bait-and-switch Biden is using to sell his climate policies–– millions of new jobs (10 million on Biden’s webpage) to be created by ramping up production of “renewable energy” components–– is a pipe dream. His “climate czar” John Kerry, for example, claims that the jobs lost in the fossil-fuel industry because of the war on carbon will be replaced by jobs making solar panels.
RealClear Policy has exploded this canard. Authors Brent Orrell and Mason Bishop remind us that we went down that primrose policy path during the Obama administration, which also put a priority on selling renewable energy by promising “new green jobs”:
In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) put millions of grant dollars in the hands of community colleges and other training programs to prepare workers for wind, solar, and other green jobs. There were high-profile green failures like the $528 million federal taxpayer loss on Solyndra, but evidence also demonstrates that wind and solar training programs fell woefully short of providing high-paying and sustainable employment that might be seen as reasonable replacements for other energy-intensive industries and occupations.
Moreover, wages paid in wind and solar energy industries are substantially below those paid in fossil fuel energy sectors. And today, 60% of solar panels come from China, where labor is dirt cheap. It’s likely that Biden’s similar green programs would artificially ramp-up demand for solar panels, which would be met by China rather than plants in the U.S. with much higher labor costs.
Finally, there’s Biden’s foreign policy changes that promise to undo the progress made by Trump’s realist policy of “maximum pressure” on the mullahs in Iran, and swift punitive reprisals when Iran attacked and killed Americans. Like Obama before him, Biden has telegraphed a desperate desire to reengage with Iran, despite its record of gaming the nuclear deal and violating its strictures. As of now, Iran has taken a hard line, refusing to talk until the Trump-era sanctions are lifted. It also has threated to end international monitoring of its nuclear infrastructure, while continuing to work toward nuclear weapons capability. Sensing Biden’s weakness, a terrorist proxy of Iran recently attacked a U.S. base in Iraq, killing a civilian contractor and wounding 9 other personnel, including a member of the armed forces.
And Biden’s response to this aggression? He caved to Iran’s demand that the U.S. rescind Trump’s interpretation last year that his sanctions and arms embargo are legitimized by the terms of the nuclear deal. And he’s accepted European offers to mediate with Iran in talks to get America back in the deal, a dangerous move given how eager France, Britain, and Germany have been to get back to business as usual with Iran. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “Washington now has effectively acknowledged that Tehran has the right to purchase advanced weapons. It’s a strange way to ‘hold accountable’ people trying to kill Americans.”
As for Iran, it contemptuously dismissed the Europeans’ offer, since it will talk only if the fatally flawed 2015 deal is restored and all sanctions are ended. Their intransigence was clear in November of last year right before the election. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasted, “It is not important who is elected president, as the next U.S. administration will surrender to the Iranian nation.” And why wouldn’t he be so arrogant? He took Obama and his team to the cleaners, and many veterans of that shameful capitulation are now serving in the Biden administration. These globalists believe that multilateral surrender is better than the unilateral “mailed fist” of Donald Trump.
If Biden gives in to Iran’s demands, the repercussions for America’s global prestige and influence will be many. Our enemies and Western European allies both prefer “America Last” to “America First,” except when it comes to our subsiding their national security. We’re already seeing consternation among our Middle Eastern allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, both targets of Iranian aggression and both put at arms-length by Biden. Coupled with Biden’s contemptuous snubbing of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, it’s no wonder the Iranians––reeling from Trump’s sanctions––would calculate yet another capitulation. To paraphrase Winston Churchill during the 1938 Czechoslovakian crisis, “America and Europe at this time presented a front of two over-ripe melons crushed together; whereas what was needed was a gleam of steel.”
These are just a few of Biden’s actions that in only a month have signaled that “America Last” is his party’s governing philosophy. If he continues on this track, our economy will suffer and our foreign policy will return to Obama’s feckless “leading from behind” and vanishing “red lines.” Then the leftist slur that America is the opposite of “great” will become a fact.