We begin today’s roundup with Paul Krugman at The New York Times on how the Biden administration is investing in economic opportunity for all:
How do we know that we should be spending more on families? There is, it turns out, a lot of evidence that there are big returns to helping children and their parents — stronger evidence, if truth be told, than there is for high returns to improved physical infrastructure.
For example, researchers have looked into the long-term effects of the food stamp program, which was rolled out gradually across the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Children who had early access to food stamps, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth concluded, “grew up to be better educated and have healthier, longer and more productive lives.” Researchers have found similar effects for children whose families received access to the earned-income tax credit and Medicaid.
So there are good reasons to believe that providing more aid to families with children would, in addition to helping Americans in need, make our economy stronger in the long run. And I can’t help contrasting the solid evidence for economic benefits from helping children with the total lack of evidence for economic payoffs to the tax cuts that have long been the right’s answer to every problem.
More from John Cassidy at The New Yorker on Biden’s economic vision:
In many ways, his approach is a reactive one. It’s been evident for years that something is seriously out of whack in the American economy, a problem highlighted by the election of the populist charlatan Donald Trump and exacerbated by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden isn’t channelling his inner—and long-hidden—socialist. Like F.D.R. in the nineteen-thirties, he’s looking to rebalance and preserve a capitalist economy that has been going askew for decades, reclaiming a vision of shared prosperity that has got lost. [...]
On Friday afternoon, I spoke with [economist Jared] Bernstein and asked him about the Administration’s economic agenda, the reactions it has engendered, and whether Biden is a revolutionary or a rebalancer. “The President, in his speech, said that America is on the move again,” Bernstein said. “That resonates with me more than big revolutionary talk—in the sense of keeping our heads down and trying to craft, legislate, and implement a policy agenda that meets the moment. The President has been very clear that that agenda isn’t small—it doesn’t nibble at the edges. In many respects, it is fundamental, and the depths of the investments are historic.” But Bernstein preferred to characterize this as rebalancing rather than as revolution, especially in areas “where things have grown unacceptably unequal, racial equity has been deeply insufficient, and where critical investments in public goods and human capital have gone wanting for decades.”
Switching topics to Republican voter suppression, the GOP is seeing some pitfalls in their plan to make it harder to vote — though certainly not enough to get them to stop their undemocratic moves. Igor Derysh at Salon explains:
Florida Republicans passed a series of voting restrictions aimed at cracking down on mail ballot access in response to false claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies, but some Republican operatives are now worried that the new measures could backfire in a state where more than a third of Republicans vote by mail.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to sign Senate Bill 90, which will impose stricter ID requirements for mail ballots, restrict the use of ballot drop boxes and require voters to request ballots instead of automatically receiving them from an absentee voting list, among other provisions. But some Florida Republicans are "reacting with alarm" after the party spent decades and millions of dollars promoting mail voting, according to the Washington Post.
Republicans must stop. Democracy cannot work if one of two major political parties is devoted to restricting the voters and rejecting their decisions.
On a final note, here’s an interesting piece by E.J. Dionne Jr. on the future of Biden’s constituency:
Can Republicans begin to claw back some of the upscale, well-educated voters they lost under Trump? And can Democrats expand on the inroads Biden began to make among voters who didn’t attend college?
Democrats hold the initiative, and not just because they control the presidency and narrow congressional majorities. As long as the vast majority of GOP politicians refuse to break with Trump, they will be tethered to his minority coalition. A comeback will be tough if moderate middle- and upper-middle-class professionals continue to associate the party with Trump, far-right extremists and the Jan. 6. attack on the Capitol. It’s why reducing the size of the electorate is the GOP’s most visible initiative.