A vibrant economy guarantees US national security during troubled and turbulent times
President Biden’s first State of the Union address was a celebration of America’s and Europe’s steely resolve to resist Russian aggression — and a eulogy for his big and bold Build Back Better plan to fundamentally reshape and reinvigorate an ailing economy.
On Tuesday, the president repurposed elements of Build Back Better into a new plan which he called Building a Better America. The new plan is a solid step to move our economy forward but it’s not nearly as transformative or as comprehensive as its predecessor. It’s America’s loss and a victory for China, which is rapidly modernizing its economy and is fighting the United States for international dominance.
Biden could have devoted the entire State of the Union address to tout his remarkable record of accomplishment in the first 13 months of his administration. The economy is growing, and pandemic is receding. He would have had more time to focus on his plans to combat climate change and win the war against inflation. But Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped the hammer on Ukraine and dampened Biden’s ambitious plans to modernize the economy.
Presidential candidates run to be the chief executive of the United States of America but often end up governing as commander in chief of the armed forces.
Presidents have a finite opportunity at the beginning of their terms to advance their domestic agenda. Then reality rears its ugly head. The presidential honeymoon ends, Congress asserts itself and foreign powers flex their military muscles. That why presidents rush to get as much done as quickly as they can.
In the first year of his presidency, Biden convinced millions of Americans to get vaccinated and persuaded members of Congress to support his lifesaving COVID-19 relief plan, the American Rescue Act. The president’s efforts saved the nation from the ravages of the deadly pandemic. The economy is on the upswing with the passage of the bipartisan law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as the creation of almost 7 million jobs. The Russian threat looms in Europe but there’s still a lot more to do here to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the American people.
The president’s transformative Build Back Better bill was already on life support and Putin just pulled the plug. The demise of the president’s ambitious initiative is a blow to reinvigorating the American economy and preparing it to grapple with challenges that face the United States.
Critics wrongly framed the proposal as a massive social spending bill but, Build Back Better was financed by tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporate America to transform the economy to make it more competitive in the cutthroat international marketplace.
The president’s proposal would have created green energy jobs that would have fought the ravages of global climate change. The Child Tax Credit would have helped integrate valuable employees back into a depleted workforce. Universal pre-school education and free two-year college tuition would have produced more skilled and highly trained employees better equipped to compete with workers in other nations. The reversal of former President Trump’s 2017 tax law would have put money back into the pockets of hard-working middle-class families and help them cope with price gouging by big businesses.
Congressional spending battles are fights between guns and butter for budgetary supremacy. Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and Republican obstruction to the president’s ambitious domestic agenda may tilt the balance of power toward military spending.
But history demonstrates that economic strength — not military might — makes or breaks world powers. Challenges remain here in the United States while the nation turns its eyes towards Ukraine. Global climate change is as much a threat to the security of the U.S. and the world as Russian aggression. Our outmoded system of physical and electronic infrastructure is an open invitation to China to extend its economic hegemony over the world at our expense.
Americans must keep their eyes on the prize when international tensions intensify. The payoff is a vibrant economy that guarantees our security during troubled and turbulent times.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon
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