For more than two centuries, the American economy has been predicated upon free-market capitalism, which has led to the United States becoming the most prosperous and innovative nation in the history of the world.
However, the free-market engine that has fueled unprecedented American ingenuity and wealth creation could be in jeopardy. And it might happen sooner than you think.
According to Joe Biden’s economic agenda, known as the Build Back Better plan, “This is the moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.”
Biden’s new American economy would be made possible via an influx of government spending, central planning, and regulations on the fossil fuel industry, among others.
However, to actually build a new American economy, it would also include dispensing with many of the principles and policies that created the current American economy. This would be unwise.
To accomplish these joint objectives, Biden has laid out an audacious agenda, which he claims “will mobilize the American people in service of four bold, national efforts to address four great national challenges.”
Before diving into his four bold, national efforts, it is disconcerting that Biden believes the national government, which has a long track record of failed economic interventions, would be capable of accomplishing such a monumental (and unnecessary) task.
Among his four bold, national efforts, first and foremost, Biden plans to “build a strong industrial base and small-business-led supply chains to retain and create millions of good-paying union jobs in manufacturing and technology across the country.”
As stated above, this would be best accomplished by the free-market instead of the national government. Time after time, the federal government has attempted to “create millions of good-paying jobs” and almost all of these attempts have failed.
From FDR’s New Deal policies to alleviate the Great Depression to Obama’s massive stimulus to cure the ails of the Great Recession, the national government has been unable to jumpstart the economy. In the midst of the pandemic-induced downturn, this same logic would apply.
Second, Biden plans to “meet the climate crisis, build a clean energy economy, address environmental injustice, and create millions of good-paying union jobs.”
Again, this is outside the purview of the national government. And if history is any guide, the national government’s recent attempts to subsidize green energy projects, such as Solyndra, have been less than stellar. Innovation is best accomplished through tinkering and trial-and-error, not via bureaucrats with gobs of money to waste.
The third pillar of Biden’s Build Back Better plan would provide free childcare, enhanced compensation for teachers, and more resources for those who care for the elderly.
Although this is laudable, it would do little to reignite America’s economy. And the nation cannot afford it, given our national debt exceeds $27 trillion.
The fourth and final part of his plan is perhaps the most insidious. According to his website, Biden would “pursue a dedicated agenda to close the racial wealth gap, to expand affordable housing, to invest in Black, Latino, and Native American entrepreneurs and communities, to advance policing and criminal justice reform, and to make real the promise of educational opportunity regardless of race or zip code.”
As covered previously, the federal government can ill afford to expand upon its already extensive social safety net programs. And like most of his proposals, much of these would be much better accomplished at the local level. And if Biden is concerned with educational opportunity, especially in minority communities, he would advocate for school choice, instead of doubling-down on failed government schools.
Biden’s Build Back Better plan is heavy on the rhetoric, light on specifics, and hopelessly misguided. If implemented in full, it would add more federal government oversight and spending in a time when the opposite approach would be a better path.
Instead of cajoling Americans into pursuing four bold, national agendas, we would all be better off if we were left to our own devices, while pursuing our own life, liberty, and happiness.
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.