With an election result in question, and all manner of Democratic subterfuge taking place in the recounts, we are still far off from anything conclusive being established. But in that interim there have been many who are preemptively bemoaning what a Joe Biden presidency would mean and looking ahead at all of the disasters he would deliver. Hopefully this column will tamp down some of that anxiety.
First off, one of the parlor games taking place right now is how long Joe will remain in power before succumbing to mental infirmaries and thus ceding the resolute desk to Kamala Harris. Many have bandied about it being a matter of months, but I’ll extend that to allow him time to place his cabinet and install preferred names in various offices. I’ll lay the chalk at the one year mark. But moving past this possibility let us analyze things as if Joe manages to remain at the helm.
There has been much talk made regarding his extreme plans and promises, but take into consideration the totality of Tuesday’s results. There is always too much focus placed on the lone figure in the White House, as if he is omnipotent. Apart from the challenge at the top, the GOP actually performed well in the election, and there are reasons to be upbeat. The Senate looks to remain in control by Mitch McConnell and the GOP, and there were over a dozen gains in the House as well.
With all of this in mind let us take a look at some of what we might expect to see from a Biden administration.
RESTRUCTURE OF THE GOVERNMENT
Mitch McConnell’s solid victory in his reelection means he remains in place as Senate leader, and he promises to be a massive check against Biden extremism. More likely to happen is significant stasis in D.C., and let’s be honest - governmental gridlock is rarely a bad thing. The less it is doing the better.
Two of the biggest threats many saw of a Biden arrival would be the extreme moves made to entrench Democrat Party power in D.C. -- court packing, and delivering statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Both of these are intended to give Democrats more control, by placing liberal justices and providing additional seats in the Senate. Both efforts will be a long shot, if not impossible, without Senate help. These are also seen as extreme steps to alter the makeup of the government, and that could mean difficulty even getting the needed support of the Democrat politicians. As for the courts, McConnell has made that sector his priority over the past four years, and he is not about to permit a massive alteration as has been proposed.
The Green New Deal, that fiasco of a pipe dream from the extremist wing of the party, was a hot issue that Biden tried to avoid on the campaign trail. His claim of it not being part of his plan falls apart when his own website declared the GND was the very framework of his proposed agenda, and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - the crafter of that unicorn fable - was actually running his energy plan. This behemoth economy-killer of a proposal will be ripped to shreds in the chambers before ever coming to a vote, and even then passing the bill will be like trying to shove a rhino through a revolving door. Its prospects are very dim without a compliant Congress to usher it through.
The side aspects of the plan, such as Joe’s denied desire to curtail oil drilling and fracking, will also be tough sells. Candidates love to announce what they intend to do on their first days in office, but these bold declarations always ignore the need to have bicameral support. Of course, the constant threat that has come into vogue the past few administrations is to have the president go the route of executive orders to push through preferred specifics. This is most likely the route Biden will need to go to get his desires implemented, so how many will be the big unknown.
There have been fears, many of which are valid, that a Biden budget will decimate our once-roaring and now returning economy. He would benefit from the fact that we are still in recovery mode and his early months will be experiencing strong growth as we come out of a pandemic shutdown. The question will be how much this would shield the policies he puts in place that ultimately shackle the economy. His biggest call was to raise taxes on those making $400,000 a year and to raise the corporate tax rates. What is hidden in this is his desire to also eliminate the Trump tax cuts, which will affect far greater workers than his targeted "wealthy." The good news is the budget is written by Congress and if there are more GOP voices in the crafting stage, as well as a willingness of the Senate to reject harsh budgets, there will be much in the way of compromise.
Will Biden budgets be great? Hardly. But the more haggling that can be done the better, and even if it leads to government shutdowns these are also not entirely bad news to witness. The government not spending money is always the impossible dream, so even if the checkbook is closed for a couple of weeks we will be happy.
This will always be the area where Democrats place a focus because of their desire to have other nations liking us. Much will be made about restoring our standing in the international community, despite the fact that we have been rather solid globally.
Note how there has been so little mention of foreign policy during the Trump years. The media has stopped even mentioning terrorism, because of all the success we have seen with our approach to ISIS the past four years. A list of foreign peace agreements seen in recent months has been grudgingly covered and then quickly dropped in the press. Biden will have a hard time besting what we have seen -- and not seen. For all of the talk of Trump being supposedly beholden to Russia there have been no bold moves made by Vladimir Putin. Trump has not started any conflicts, and even began pulling troops out of areas. Will Joe be able to say the same, or will Putin challenge his resolve?
Another factor will be all of the controversies Biden has had to contend with in recent months. His questionable personal involvements with Russia, Ukraine, and China will be an anchor on many of his outreach efforts, giving him a challenge when dealing with those nations.
Then there is that specter of an early exit by Biden, and seeing him turning over the keys to Kamala Harris. She has already revealed a more extreme approach to certain policies, and this is going to lead to only more pushback politically. She could even face a challenge gathering enough support from her own party, as we have seen she is not exactly in possession of strong influence. As a candidate she never earned primary delegates, and when the primary in California was being held she was polling at a distant fourth place -- in her home state.
Harris is not a politician with built-in gravitas. A more extreme agenda from a less influential figure means that resistance is even more likely to happen than would be seen with Biden. Overall, though we would prefer to see a coalition of conservative power in D.C., a Biden presidency is not an automatic disaster. And if it is revealed he rose to power through subversive electoral means then the will to oppose him on The Hill will become even greater.