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Biden’s Ambitious Agenda Is More Truman Than FDR

Joe Biden's multitrillion-dollar plans to revive the economy, fix America's infrastructure and ease poverty have spawned comparisons between him and Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the 100-day mark of the Biden presidency, David Gergen, who has advised presidents of both parties, wrote, "Biden is off to an excellent start — arguably, one of the best since Roosevelt."

And Biden hasn't discouraged such talk. He now has a giant portrait of FDR in the Oval Office, right across from the Resolute Desk.

But while there may be likenesses between those two presidents' agendas, the less glamorous Harry Truman also deserves inspirational face time. Truman and Biden both came from modest small-town origins. Unlike the aristocratic Roosevelt, they knew firsthand about middle-class striving.

It's not surprising, then, that the Biden agenda seeks to recreate the Golden Age for the American middle class — the postwar years of 1947 through 1973, when productivity doubled but so did the median compensation of full-time workers. Truman was instrumental in launching it.

Truman understood that the well-being of workers depended on factors beyond the magic of the market. Widespread prosperity needed a third player in addition to business and labor. That player was a government willing to impose social norms through tax policy, the minimum wage, and protection for organized labor.

As World War II was ending, impatient workers launched destabilizing strikes. And so, in November 1945, Truman held a conference to create a new labor policy through which postwar abundance would be broadly shared. The participants came from business, the labor movement and — at Truman's insistence — government.

The business community came eagerly on board. As Eric Johnston, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the conference: "Labor unions are woven into our economic pattern of American life, and collective bargaining is a part of the democratic process. I say recognize this fact not only with our lips but with our hearts."

Truman proposed a national health care plan, which didn't happen, and higher taxes on the top incomes, which did. Biden's agenda both strengthens the Affordable Care Act and seeks to raise taxes on the top incomes.

Unlike Roosevelt's New Deal, Truman's Fair Deal took a strong stance on civil rights. New Deal programs broadly discriminated against Blacks. The National Recovery Administration, for example, gave preferences to white job seekers and allowed lower pay scales for Blacks.

Roosevelt appointed a few Blacks to token jobs. Truman put nonwhites in positions of real power, notably William Henry Hastie, the first African American federal appellate judge.

Biden just announced a racially diverse slate of judicial nominees. It includes sending Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered a springboard for the Supreme Court.

Biden is pursuing racial equity in some controversial ways. The COVID-19 relief bill includes a $5 billion fund for minority farmers only. And the infrastructure package says that 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy must go to "disadvantaged communities." How that would work is unclear.

The offshoring of American jobs and technological change of course accelerated workers' loss of economic security — and helped end the Golden Age. But the ditching of norms that only government could enforce also played a part.

Ronald Reagan cut taxes on the rich. Then George W. Bush did, and then Donald Trump. The federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25 an hour. In 1973, it was equivalent to $9.81 in today's dollars.

Biden seems to be summoning his inner Harry Truman and bringing back the third player. In assuring a stable and happy middle class, the market has a job to do, but so does government.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Stocks Gain Despite GOP’s Dire Warnings About Biden

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In addition to proposing an increase of the United States' corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, President Joe Biden began a push this week for a major hike in the capital gains tax. Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Caputo of West Virginia and others on the right, not surprisingly, slammed the proposal and predicted the worst, and some on the right felt vindicated when the stock market dipped sharply after Biden's announcement.

But liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted there was little warrant for their dire predictions on Twitter Friday morning.

Caputo, during a Friday morning appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box complained, "Is there not a tax that's not going to be raised just in enormous amounts to fulfill the Green New Deal and other promises that were made during (Biden's 2020) campaign? I mean, I don't see why the thirst for raising taxes is so incredibly large when we see the impact that's going to have on our economy, on our job creation and all that…. I can't support that."

The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board had an equally negative reaction to Biden's proposed capital gains tax hike, writing, "The lesson that investors should have learned by now is that Bernie Sanders was right when he predicted that Joe Biden would be the most left-wing president since FDR. Moderate Joe was always a mirage."

On Thursday, Laura Davison and Allyson Versprille of Bloomberg News reported that according to sources, Biden proposes "almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for wealthy individuals to 39.6 percent" or as high as 43.4 percent from "the current base rate of 20%." The S&P 500 took a slight dip on Thursday, but the following day, Krugman assured Twitter users that Biden was not causing the sky to fall.

Posting an S&P 500 chart showing a 52-week period, Krugman tweeted:

Krugman, in his Twitter thread, added that he "was struck by how small the reaction to the tax announcement was — less than 1 percent on the day":

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki weighed in on fluctuations in the stock market when a reporter, at a press briefing on Friday, mentioned Biden's proposal for higher capital gains taxes. Psaki told the reporter, "I've been doing this long enough not to comment on movements in the stock market, but I did see just data, factually, that it went back up this morning."

Bloomberg News' John Authers, in an article published on Friday, explains, "Stock markets don't like it when politicians say they are going to raise capital gains taxes. This should come as no surprise to anyone, and so, Wall Street's response to Thursday's Bloomberg News exclusive that President Biden is planning a big hike in CGT was predictable."

Authers goes on remember how capital gains taxes can affect the stock market, writing, 'What are the direct effects of a CGT hike? If you were thinking of selling shares anyway, it makes far more sense to sell them before the end of the year…. It's not clear that higher CGT does anything more than bring sales forward. The way the market handled the last major CGT increase, at the end of 2012, is instructive."

Recalling how the stock market behaved in 2012 and 2013 — when Barack Obama was president and Biden was vice president — Authers notes, "As it grew clear that higher capital gains taxes were coming, the S&P 500 languished and went sideways for the last few months of the year, closing roughly where it had been in March. Then, 2013 turned out to be a great year; stocks started their rally at the beginning of January and never really stopped."

Fed Chair Predicts Imminent Boom, Credits Biden

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Sunday that the economy is likely about to boom, big time. And he credited two of President Joe Biden's efforts for that progress.

On CBS News' 60 Minutes, Powell observed that the economy appears to be at an "inflection point."

"We feel like we're at a place where the economy's about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly," he said, noting, "we and a lot of private sector forecasters see strong growth and strong job creation starting right now. So really, the outlook has brightened substantially."

Powell was picked for the job by Donald Trump in November 2017. As he announced the nomination at a Rose Garden event, Trump called Powell "strong," "committed," and "smart," saying, "I am confident that with Jay as a wise steward of the Federal Reserve, it will have the leadership it needs in the years to come."

But after praising Powell's "integrity and good judgment," Trump largely ignored Powell's advice and savaged him as an "enemy" of America.

From the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Powell warned that it could be a major economic threat. "We are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy," he said in February 2020.

Trump responded by pretending the problem would go away and continuing to attack Powell.

In October, Powell urged more congressional action to address the crisis and its economic fallout, and renewed efforts to curb the virus' spread.

"Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses," he told the National Association for Business Economics. "By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller."

He cautioned that "COVID-19 cases might again rise to levels that more significantly limit economic activity, not to mention the tragic effects on lives and well-being. Managing this risk as the expansion continues will require following medical experts' guidance, including using masks and social-distancing measures."

Trump instead halted all negotiations on a COVID-19 relief package and continued to promote an unsafe immediate reopening of the economy. Cases spiked to an all-time high and the recovery slowed.

Since taking office, Biden has focused on vaccinating everyone and passing massive economic relief. Powell credited both on Sunday for the improved economic situation, saying it was "because of widespread vaccination and strong fiscal support, strong monetary policy support."

After Trump promised in the 2020 campaign to vaccinate just 200,000 people a day, Biden pledged to get that number up to 1 million a day for the first 100 days of his administration. He has far exceeded this goal and CNN reported Monday that at the current pace, half of U.S. adults could be at least partially inoculated by the end of the week.

Powell also expressly praised the pandemic relief bills, saying without them things "would've been so much worse." While some of the bills were bipartisan efforts under Trump, congressional Republicans refused to even consider a House-passed $3 trillion relief package for most of 2020 and unanimously opposed Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Powell noted that his colleagues are forecasting "growth for this year in the range of six or seven percent, which would be the highest level in, you know, 30 years — or even maybe a little bit higher."

Trump promised growth of "four, five, and maybe even six percent ultimately" but failed to achieve even four percent growth for any year of his presidency.

Experts predict that growth could be even better if Congress enacts Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. A recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis suggested an infrastructure bill around that size could boost GDP by up to $320 billion annually.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Predicted Slump Under Biden — But Markets And Jobs Are Surging

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Donald Trump often said ahead of the 2020 election that if Joe Biden were elected, gains in the stock market would be destroyed.

"If he is elected, the stock market will crash," Trump said in a presidential debate on October 22, 2020, one of dozens of times he made the claim during the campaign, according to transcripts gathered by Factbase.

Yet 72 days into Biden's first term as president, the stock market has not only gone up, but it has set multiple records, including on Thursday, when the S&P 500 surpassed 4,000 for the first time in history.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has also broken records multiple times since Biden was elected, beginning with the day Biden was sworn in. Since then, the Dow has surpassed 33,000 for the first time in history.

CNN reported in January that since Biden was elected in November, the stock market has had the "best post-election market performance for a new president in modern history."

The latest stock market surge follows the announcement of Biden's new infrastructure plan, which could be behind the record stock market performance. Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan would modernize the country's roads, bridges, and airports, as well as focus on modernizing infrastructure to help battle climate change.

The stock market news also comes as the vaccine rollout accelerates, and after Biden successfully pushed through a coronavirus relief package in March to help aid the economic recovery effort — without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.

Experts predicted the relief package would bring "an almost immediate boost to the U.S. economy," the New York Times reported, with $1,400 checks and a $300 weekly increase to unemployment insurance likely to increase consumer spending as parts of the economy most hard-hit by the virus, including hospitality and tourism, began to show signs of life again with increased vaccinations.

On Friday, those predictions were bolstered when the Department of Labor announced that employers created a massive 916,000 jobs in March, including more than 200,000 jobs at restaurants, bars, and hotels. That's even more than the 675,000 jobs predicted in a survey done by Dow Jones last month, according to CNBC.

Stock market futures continued to rise Friday morning.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.