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Biden's Moves May Mark End of the Reagan Era

Pundits see a fundamental shift, or at least an attempt at one, by the new White House
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2021 3:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – A common theme is emerging in coverage about President Biden from political observers on the left and right: His plans to dramatically expand the scope of the government—witness his $1.9 trillion COVID package and his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal—might just mark the definitive end of the Ronald Reagan era of small-government politics. But that's assuming, of course, that Biden can get his infrastructure package and other measures through Congress. Examples:

  • Ronald Reagan famously declared that "government is not the solution to our problem" but the problem itself, notes David E. Sanger in an analysis at the New York Times. Biden's "gamble" is "that the country is ready to dispense with one of the main tenets of the Reagan revolution, and show that for some tasks the government can jump-start the economy more efficiently than market forces." The president is of the mind that the nation's "political center of gravity" has been shifted by the pandemic and by a new focus on social and racial inequities.
  • In the New Yorker, Susan Glasser writes that the Biden administration is making a "real historical gamble." Essentially, they are "advancing the proposition that the politics of the Reagan era—of endless tax cuts embraced by Republicans and of Democrats trying and failing to escape the label of big-government liberals—is finally over." Lots of comparisons to FDR and LBJ are being tossed around, but Glasser says they should wait until we see what Biden actually gets passed.

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  • Biden's early moves suggest he is "eager and prepared to seize the opportunity to define the end of the Reagan era and shape the one to come," writes Damon Linker at the Week. Linker thinks a comparison to FDR is more appropriate than to LBJ. The latter president expanded but mainly continued already existing policies. "What Biden is attempting now is something very different—a major leftward change of orientation from the preceding 40 years. That kind of swing hasn't happened since 1933."
  • All of this has conservative Matt Lewis pondering some big questions in the Daily Beast. "What if Biden turns out to be the liberal answer to Reagan?" he asks. Unlike Reagan, Biden's party actually controls both houses of Congress, he notes. "What if Biden, who was often seen as a 'transitional' caretaker who was tolerable to get rid of Donald Trump, turns out to be a truly transformational president who brings about a new political consensus? Imagine the irony if Obama turns out to have been the John the Baptist to Joe Biden’s Jesus Christ."
(Read more President Biden stories.)

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