Biden wants to make America 'great again'

Biden wants to make America 'great again'
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Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE is right. We should learn from a past era when Congress, including segregationists, moved the country forward through major social justice legislation. Biden was roasted by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' MORE (D-Calif.) and others — all of whom, ironically, have done nothing of consequence for the country in the areas of fairness and equal opportunity, especially in contrast to the legislators and political leaders of the 1960s and ’70s who worked together to get things done. The former vice president’s critics are either ignorant, lying, or they simply don’t care — or, possibly, all three.

As a policy staff member in the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, I worked with Sen. Russell Long (D-La.) and Rep. Wilbur Mills (D-Ark.) on welfare reform and enhancements to Medicaid in the early 1970s, when Biden entered the Senate. These were serious politicians and legislators; they knew the minute details and economic implications of every piece of these complex laws and programs. They had read all of the data and studies; you needed to bring your “A-game” to negotiate with them and their teams. Mills was famous for reciting major legislative bills from memory. 

They also were serious about overcoming social inequities, providing equal opportunity to all Americans, and moving our country forward quickly. They led the creation of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Head Start, Section 8 housing, the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) Training Program, Title 1 education, Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company (MESBIC) program, and the multitude of other programs that have spent well over a trillion dollars to create a social safety net, bring hundreds of millions of Americans out of poverty, and provide serious opportunity for all Americans to live independent, meaningful lives. 

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None of the loud “progressives” in this political year has demonstrated the skills or insights to even conceive of such a complex network of social justice programs, much less design, implement and manage them. Do the candidates even know these programs exist? None has referenced or discussed any of these programs in detail in their speeches demanding “social justice.”

But that’s not all. Could these “progressive” candidates tell you what the IPCC is, or seriously discuss any of its reports? It is, of course, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and it has issued a series of (oddly contradictory) reports. The IPCC is considered the source of the “settled science” so often referenced by “environmentalist” politicians. It does not say that the world will end in 10 years, or even 100 years. That is all nonsense.

This, again, is in stark contrast to the era that Biden referenced. Biden entered the Senate during a period when the White House and Congress had just come to grips with environmental degradation and created the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was put together after deep research and painstaking legislating, in contrast to the Green New Deal nonsense. 

No nation on earth has ever done as much. Nothing on that level of social change has occurred since then in America.

During the 1960s and 1970s, while Congress was creating an array of social justice programs, it also leaped forward on civil rights. Neither Russell Long nor Wilbur Mills, nor most of their colleagues, showed signs of racism when working tirelessly to create economic safety nets, as well as broader social justice programs to promote fairness and equal opportunity for the poor, many of whom were African Americans. Yet these lawmakers were from southern states that had a strong history of bigotry and, importantly, belief in states’ rights and resistance to federal overreach — a position that has legitimacy but also clearly has provided cover for segregation. 

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Many of their votes slowed civil rights legislation. But, in fairness, the progressive Kennedy White House also slow-walked civil rights and integration numerous times. That was the politics of the era. It was complicated, but led quickly to tremendous progress.

The politics of today is vastly different. Candidates appear to be astoundingly lazy, served by an unchallenging media. They demonstrate little to no knowledge of existing social justice or environmental programs. They do not work to get useful social legislation passed; they covet sound bites. They ignore the unprecedented progress America has made. They turn their backs on the economic success of many minorities and those who once were poor. They demand “reparations” and “social justice,” apparently ignorant of the trillions of dollars spent. They offer free-everything to gain votes, with little consideration to economic or social consequences. 

Biden may not make a great president, but his point about working in a Congress with serious people is certainly understandable. Sometimes age carries experience and wisdom. “Make America Great Again” may resonate like fingernails across a blackboard for many Americans, but many others likely understand nostalgia for a time when political leaders loved America and worked together to move the country forward. 

Grady Means is a writer and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Nelson Rockefeller and as a staff economist for Secretary Elliott Richardson of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Follow him on Twitter @GradyMeans.