Remember when President Bill Clinton declared that “the era of big government is over” during his 1996 State of the Union speech?
Well, 25 years later, big government is back.
Since taking office January 20, President Joe Biden has proposed a torrent of legislation that would vastly increase the size and scope of the federal government. Not to mention that it would add trillions of dollars to the $28 trillion-and-counting national debt.
Biden’s big government bonanza began shortly after his inauguration, when he rolled out his so-called COVID-19 rescue plan.
According to the Biden administration, the American Rescue Plan is the “first step of an aggressive, two-step plan for rescue, from the depths of this crisis, and recovery, by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis, advancing racial equity, and building back better than before.”
Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which sailed through Congress without a single Republican voting for it, will cost $1.9 trillion. It will also increase government dependence by extending enhanced unemployment benefits until September.
As many Americans have noticed, businesses are having a very difficult time hiring workers because of the enhanced unemployment benefits. That is a natural consequence of big government.
After steamrolling his American Rescue Plan through Congress via the budget reconciliation process, the Biden administration has turned toward phase two of its big government revival.
The second stage of Biden’s big government restoration includes two gargantuan bills: the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.
As proposed, these two bills would cost about $4 trillion combined. Always remember, big government is predicated on big spending. And vice-versa.
Both bills would also massively increase the role of the federal government, especially in sectors that it has traditionally been absent from.
For example, Biden’s American Jobs Plan would spend $590 billion in research and development programs for domestic manufacturing. However, wouldn’t that be better achieved by private sector investment?
Biden’s American Jobs Plan would also allocate $400 billion towards expanding home health care services and all sorts of other things that the federal government will inevitably fail to properly address, let alone fix over the long term.
Not to be outdone, Biden’s latest big government proposal, the American Families Plan, would go much further in cementing the rise of the new nanny state.
Among the many ill-conceived ideas in the American Families Plan, here are a few stand-outs: “free” child care, “free” community college, “free” paid family and medical leave, “free” universal pre-school, and a goody bag of subsidies for existing failing programs, such as Obamacare.
What is perhaps most shocking is that Biden’s big government pitches come after massive federal government intervention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s more, the U.S. gross domestic product increased by a robust 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021. At this point, the absolute last thing America needs is more profligate spending, government dependence, and central planning courtesy of Washington, DC busybody bureaucrats.
However, as Rahm Emanuel, then-President Obama’s chief of staff, famously said in 2008 (in reference to the Global Recession), “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Funny, Biden has been uttering the same line lately. During his recent address to a joint session of Congress, Biden opened with, “Tonight, I come to talk about crisis — and opportunity. … Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity.”
I wonder what Bill Clinton was thinking as he watched President Biden absolutely shred his crowning achievement of putting big government on the back burner.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.