The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Trillion-Dollar Train Wreck

President Joe Biden announces executive actions as Vice President Kamala Harris listens in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 8, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

On the menu today: No, really, you can’t keep track of the Biden administration’s trillion-dollar spending bills without a scorecard — and this administration appears to be whistling past the graveyard on the threat of inflation; there’s some easily overlooked good news on COVID-19 over the past two weeks; another police controversy, this time in California’s Bay area; and looking ahead to Thursday night’s NFL Draft.

Biden’s Playbook: ‘The American [Insert Noun Here] Plan’

What is the Biden presidency? The Biden presidency is . . .

. . . spending $1.9 trillion on the “American Rescue Plan,” commonly described as “the pandemic-relief bill,” so you can move on to . . .

. . . a $2.3 trillion “American Jobs Plan,” commonly described as “the infrastructure bill,” so you can move on to . . .

. . . a $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan,” which hasn’t gotten a nickname yet, but will probably end up being called “the education bill” because it pledges to provide, at minimum, four years of free education . . .

. . . so you can move on to the “Green New Deal for Cities,” which would “provide $1 trillion for struggling municipalities” . . .

. . . so you can move on to a “Green New Deal for Public Housing,” which would spent $180 billion to “retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock,” both of which are separate from . . .

. . . the THRIVE Act, which would spend — excuse me, “invest” — $15 trillion over 15 years to create “family-sustaining, union jobs across the economy,” which is separate from . . .

. . . I guess we would call it the “Green New Deal Classic,” which originally called for eliminating 88 percent of our current energy sources, banning cars, and cutting military spending by at least half.

Got that? Like the old joke about the turtles, it’s massive spending bills, all the way down.

Fact-checkers are quick to emphasize that Biden’s infrastructure plan “is not the Green New Deal.” PolitiFact asked Greenpeace, and Greenpeace emphasized that the two proposals are different, so that settles the issue:

The American Jobs Plan also includes about $480 billion to boost manufacturing and research and development, some of which might boost clean energy. The THRIVE Act folds money for those activities into other line items, primarily its investments in clean energy.

Ryan Schleeter, spokesman for Greenpeace USA, a Green New Deal Network member, said it is misleading to equate Biden’s proposal with the Green New Deal.

“The American Jobs Plan is similar in intent to the THRIVE Act, but far narrower in scope and scale,” Schleeter said.

Good heavens, how could anyone possibly mix up those two massive new spending proposals focused on clean-energy projects? It’s like Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney. They’re completely different.

Just in those first three Mad Libs bills listed up there — “The American [Noun] Plan” — Biden wants to spend an additional $6 trillion beyond what the federal government would ordinarily spend. That’s about a third of the entire U.S. economy, all on top of the $4.4 trillion the government spent in 2019, the last non-pandemic year.

I don’t know if we’re about to endure a sudden and lasting surge in inflation; the Capital Matters guys can sort that out better than I can. I do know that the Consumer Price Index had its biggest jump in about a decade last month, and the overall price index is up 2.6 percent from a year earlier. In the past month, gas prices are higher, natural gas and energy costs are higher, and food prices are higher, both at home and in restaurants. You may have noticed that suppliers are scrambling to find lumber and semiconductor chips. It sure feels like inflation is making a comeback.

Mark May 12 on your calendar; that’s when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers its next round of updated numbers. Two consecutive months of dramatic jumps in the consumer price index would suggest this wasn’t a brief, pandemic-influenced fluke.

One condition that can cause inflation is “too many dollars chasing too many goods” — “when the aggregate demand in an economy strongly outweighs the aggregate supply, prices go up.” If the government starts running the printing presses and throwing around money willy-nilly, but the supply of goods doesn’t keep pace, prices go up. Yes, you’ve got more money in your bank account or wallet, but so does everyone else. Prices go up, so the additional money you’ve received doesn’t help you as much.

Psst: We’re Winning the Battle against COVID-19.

Daily new COVID cases reported in the U.S. two weeks ago: 78,924.

Seven-day average of new cases reported in the U.S. as of two weeks ago: 72,809.

New COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. as of yesterday: 52,046.

Seven-day average of new cases reported in the U.S. as of yesterday: 57,024.

Decline in the number of cases from two weeks ago: 34 percent.

Decline in the seven-day average of new cases from two weeks ago: 21.6 percent.

Here We Go Again

The New York Times: “California Man Dies After Officers Pin Him to Ground for 5 Minutes”

Within the article itself:

After about four and a half minutes of body camera footage showing [Mario Arenales Gonzalez] pinned to the ground, a third officer is seen on his legs. When one officer asks if they should roll him on his side, another replies, “I don’t want to lose what I got.”

“We have no weight on his chest, nothing,” the second officer observes, pointing to Mr. Gonzalez’s back. As the first officer tries to adjust his position, the second says: “No, no, no. No weight, no weight, no weight.”

Seconds later, the officers notice that Mr. Gonzalez has become unresponsive. They roll him onto his side and then push him onto his back and begin chest compressions after checking for a pulse.

After emergency medical workers respond, the first officer explains that they administered Narcan, which can reverse overdoses. “He went from combative to nonresponsive almost immediately,” he says.

That sounds pretty darn different from the circumstances of George Floyd’s killing. From the description, the officers, or at least one officer, deliberately avoided putting pressure on his chest. They apparently quickly recognized he was unresponsive and set about attempting to keep him alive once they realized he was unresponsive. Gonzalez was taken to a hospital and died there.

And yet . . . “Everything we saw in that video was unnecessary and unprofessional,” Mario Gonzalez’s brother Gerardo Gonzalez said Tuesday during a news conference. “The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd.

ADDENDUM: I realize that if you draw a Venn Diagram of readers of this newsletter and New York Jets fans, there’s not a ton of overlap, but there’s some; over at Play Like a Jet, I look through the Jets’ options with their second pick in the first round. The Jets’ first pick in the first round is almost certainly going to be Brigham Young University quarterback Zach Wilson, who looks like the absolute best, most talented, rocket-armed, and most naturally leading sixth-grader the Jets could possibly picked. There is a claim that Wilson is 21 years old, but come on, just look at him. Never mind buying beer without ID; most movie theaters wouldn’t allow Zach Wilson to watch an R-rated movie without his parents. When he walks into a restaurant, the waiter must just instinctively gives him the kids’ menu. He looks like he had his last birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.


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