Are Democrats Ready to Bet Their Party's Future on a Roaring Economy in the Fall of 2022?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

I want to give credit right at the start for the origins of my views as expressed here.  I’m finding more and more instances where I read words in the works of other commentators that seem quite familiar to me, but for which there isn’t any “H/T” to where they might have gotten the idea behind their piece.

This story is inspired by this Matthew Continetti’s article in the Free Beacon yesterday. That article touched on a few things I have written in the past, including this story from just a couple of days ago that took a look at the historical habit of the Democrat party to rush to pass legislation popular with party activists — gun control in the case of my story — but which does not resonate with the wider electorate, including some parts of the Democrat electorate.

But what really caught my attention was the idea that the true believer partisans around Dementia Joe have him believing he is this generation’s FDR or LBJ. The moment has chosen him to go “All In” on the Democrat Party agenda in all its radical glory.

But as Continetti’s piece points out, some of the prominent voices on the left making this claim in 2021 were making the same claim in 2009 when the anointed one was newly-elected Barack Obama who came into office after a decisive victory over John McCain, and bringing with him huge majorities in the House and Senate by modern, post-Reagan standards.

Now the same wonks and historians who compared Obama to the architect of managerial liberalism downplay his tenure in office as overly cautious, modest, and risk-averse. They’ve settled on a new, new FDR: Joe Biden. And Biden is ready to play the part.

This is where Dementia Joe benefits the Democrat Party — and shows how delusional he really is in his current state. It’s easy to persuade him in the fog of his advancing years that he’s poised to be a historical figure of real consequence when, in fact, he’s probably the person least equipped to lead the United States since Jimmy Carter. Continetti points out that the loudest advocates for an “All In” approach for the Biden Administration are the cheerleaders in the media, relics from the bygone Clinton and Obama eras such as E.J.Dionne, Jon Meacham, and Michael Beschloss. Absent from the advocates of the “All In” approach are political hands and policy folks who lived through the fallout of Barack Obama’s first two years in office, the last time the Democrats had control — by much larger amounts — of the three, political arms of government.

I called attention last week in this article to the fact that it is looking more unlikely that Biden Administration will be able to overcome the barrier of the legislative filibuster in the Senate, as it appears that more Democrat senators than just Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may harbor concerns about establishing a process where the leadership can move whatever legislation they want with only 50 votes.

But assuming that the recalcitrant senators were made to come around, and the Democrats in the Senate found themselves empowered to pass everything on the radical agenda wish list, would the Biden Administration and the Democrat Party really benefit?  Or would they suffer the same ignominious overwhelming defeat at the hands of the voters in 2022 as Barack Obama suffered in 2010? According to Continetti, the cheerleaders on the sidelines are ready to risk it:

The Biden team gave Axios four reasons the president is ready to ditch the filibuster and push through a $3 trillion infrastructure and green energy bill, changes to election law in the “For the People Act,” and possibly an immigration amnesty. Biden has (1) “full party control of Congress, and a short window to go big,” (2) “party activists” are “egging him on,” (3) “he has strong gathering economic winds at his back,” and (4) “he’s popular in polls.”

Let’s deal with these rationalizations one at a time, and I’m going to take them out of order.

The easiest is that he has full control of Congress and a short window to act. The problem is that “full control of the Congress” pays scant attention to the historically razor-thin margin by which that control exists. And while it might seem like “control”, the fact is that every Democrat initiative is, for practical purposes, held hostage to pretty much every individual Democrat member of the House and Senate. Because there are no votes to spare, and it is unlikely that any GOP votes can be had, every Democrat member of Congress must be on board with every provision of every radical piece of legislation on the “transformative” agenda.

That means that the voting options must appeal to both AOC sitting in an 85% Democrat registration district all the way to any House Democrat who might soon find him or herself sitting in a redrawn Congressional district after redistricting that has a majority GOP registration. In the Senate, my earlier story focused on the issue of gun control and whether certain Democrat senators would be willing to unleash the gun-grabbers in the Senate to have their way when needing only 50 votes on a subject where a few RINOs might be willing to go along.

The second point concerning the party activists is really just the heart of Continetti’s column — that the people urging Biden towards the most radical action, and arguing that this is his FDR moment, have either deluded themselves with some distorted rationalization about what happened in 2010, or they are simply willing to have the Democrat Party go through that again in exchange for enacting the wish list — even if most would be gutted by subsequent GOP Administrations.

Regard the fourth point: this is “Fool’s Gold.” Anyone who believes media polls at this point in time, given the absolute manner in which the media has gone in the tank to protect Biden in every conceivable respect — at least until the point of the worsening border crisis in the past two weeks — is trodding ground that will certainly collapse under their feet. The policies being advocated lack popular support; that’s why the advocacy for them could not get a progressive candidate to the front of even the Democrat party primary contest. Joe Biden’s inexplicable rise through the primary process was in response to the lack of a meaningful alternative to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the early days of the campaign.

The real justification is the third one offered — the cheerleaders think they can get away with it, if the economy is healthy and roaring in 18 months when the voters next go to the polls. They are banking on the voters “forgiving” the naked display of political power in ramming through the wish list agenda on the barest of majorities without a single GOP vote.

Gas prices are on the rise, and it’s hard to make a guess for how high they might go. Worldwide output of oil declined during the pandemic due to reduced demand. At the low point in July 2020, the daily production was approximately 70 million barrels per day. While production levels are increasing, so is the price, and production levels remain still significantly lower than they were pre-pandemic.

Energy prices are a tax on consumers, because they are almost impossible to avoid. Higher prices reduce disposable income. Combine those higher prices with the damage done by the pandemic to personal finances — tens of thousands of businesses have closed and will not reopen, and millions of wage-paying jobs were lost as result — and the hoped-for rebound of the economy may take much longer than expected.

Not being talked about is what will happen over the next 12-18 months, when people have to resume paying their bills. What will happen when the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are lifted? What will happen when utility companies return to turning off services for past due accounts?  What will happen when consumer credit is maxed out and more credit is not available, because credit-worthiness by normal economic standards has been destroyed?

If Biden and the Democrats are truly poised to push through the entire radical wish list of transformational legislation under the circumstances, betting that they will get away with it because the economic winds are “at his back”, they are as delusional now as they were in 2009-10.

If that bet turns out bad, voters will destroy the Democrat Party in 2022 in an even more emphatic fashion than they did in 2010.