8 thoughts on “The Biden Administration

  1. Here’s something odd: I was eager to watch the first press conferences with the new White House press secretary, and I had a specific yearning for boring competence. Given the last four years, I guess this yearning is understandable, not odd, on some level, but to be enthused to hear responses that were cliched or political boilerplate–responses that I had taken for granted and often bored me–is a strange feeling. It reminds me of time I spent 10 days in the French Quarter–with no Asian food (or any other type of food outside of French, cajun, and fried). The teri chicken bowl at the San Francisco Airport was one of the best I’ve had.

    I should say that Jen Psaki, the WH press secretary, wasn’t just satisfyingly boring. I thought was good, really good. I’m interested in seeing how long this will last.

    1. Did you see what she put on Twitter yesterday?

    2. I didn’t see that, but this is cool. I’m really liking her so far. I can’t tell how much of this is just because of the contrast between the previous press secretaries, though.

  2. Handling the Covid-19 Pandemic

    A different approach to leadership

    Straight talk in the beginning. That’s what we need. Americans can handle this. Optism and encouraging words. Conveying he has a plan.

    Now, the Biden Administration needs to execute the plan.

    A different approach to science

  3. Criticisms against Biden Administration and the press coverage of them

    Republicans and conservatives complain about liberal bias in the media, which leads to move favorable coverage for Democrats and more negative coverage for Republicans. I’m going to try to keep track of this, to evaluate and compare to the coverage of Trump and other Republicans.

    I’m also going to try to examine actual criticisms the right directs at Biden and his administration.

    Here’s the first one I came across:

    Another about Kamala Harris: When Kamala Was a Top Cop: from Conor Friedersdorf

    “If elected, can the candidate be trusted to hold government officials accountable and oversee a progressive criminal-justice system? Her past says no.”

    (Note: To me, patterns are critical. One-off signs of bad judgment or bad character do not concern me as much, unless it’s really bad. But a pervasive pattern of something negative is a big deal.)

    Edit

    This is dumb, but if this is just one story that quickly fades, it’s not a big deal.

    2/7/2021

    I tend to agree. I didn’t listen to Biden’s comments, but I don’t think he should promote his son’s book.

    2/12/2021

    I think this is totally fair:

    I don’t know what the WH staff said exactly to the Politico reporter, but it was bad enough to get him a week suspension without pay. Maybe Biden was referring primarily to treatment of employees or subordinates. The statement is not clear–but why wouldn’t it apply to the way his staff treats reporters or people outside the White House? The problem is that Biden made this statement–if he wasn’t going to follow through, saying this was a mistake. (It’s like when Obama publicly drew a red line for Assad. Doing this is mistake if you’re not going to follow through.)

    2/13/2021

    Whether this is right or wrong move, it is consistent with what Biden said.

  4. Good article on the Senate filibuster. (The author leans towards abolishing it.)

    I’d like to hear a good rebuttal to this. If you guys find any, please post it here.

    More:

    Opinion: Democrats are faced with a choice. Protect the filibuster or protect democracy. by E,J. Dionne in WaPo

    Last week, the Brennan Center for Justice reported that, “In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced three times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to this time last year.”

    The 106 bills the center identified in 28 states sought to limit mail voting, impose stricter voter ID requirements, roll back voter-friendly registration policies and enable more aggressive voter purges. What Donald Trump and his mob could not achieve before President Biden’s inauguration will instead come through the back door of state-level legislation.

    Dionne argues that the Senate should end the filibuster to pass voting rights package that will prevent voter suppression.

  5. Biden’s Stimulus Package

    A critique–or more cautious support.

    Opinion: The Biden stimulus is admirably ambitious. But it brings some big risks, too. Lawrence Summers WaPo op-ed

    Summers, who was Treasury Secretary in the Obama Administration, after Tim Geitner, has two major concerns as well as ways to address them:

    First, while there are enormous uncertainties, there is a chance that macroeconomic stimulus on a scale closer to World War II levels than normal recession levels will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation, with consequences for the value of the dollar and financial stability. This will be manageable if monetary and fiscal policy can be rapidly adjusted to address the problem. But given the commitments the Fed has made, administration officials’ dismissal of even the possibility of inflation, and the difficulties in mobilizing congressional support for tax increases or spending cuts, there is the risk of inflation expectations rising sharply. Stimulus measures of the magnitude contemplated are steps into the unknown. For credibility, they need to be accompanied by clear statements that the consequences will be monitored closely and, if necessary, there will be the capacity and will to adjust policy quickly.

    Second, long before covid-19, the U.S. economy faced fundamental problems of economic injustice, slow growth and inadequate public investment in everything from infrastructure to preschool education to renewable energy. These are at the heart of Biden’s emphasis on building back better.

    If the stimulus proposal is enacted, Congress will have committed with essentially no increase in public investment to address these challenges. After resolving the crisis, how will political and economic space be found for the public investments that should be the nation’s highest priority?

    Is the thinking that deficits can prudently be expanded longer and further? Or that new revenue will be raised? If so, will this be politically feasible?

    2/5/2021

    Thread from economist, Paul Krugman, in response to Summers:

    The jobs report and the Biden plan: the plan is mainly NOT ABOUT STIMULUS: It’s disaster relief to get us through the pandemic. It will, however, have some stimulative effect. And some liberalish economists worry about overheating 1/

    What the weakness in the economy tells us is to worry a lot less (although I don’t think we should have worried much in the first place). The economy seems to be stalling or worse; this means that stimulus from the plan will be a good thing, not a problem 2/

    Far better to run the risk of needing some monetary tightening a year from now than risking an inadequate plan that repeats the mistakes of 2009 … 3/

    Also, he says this later:

    One important point about the Biden plan: to the extent it provides stimulus, that will fall if the economy does better than expected. Unemployment benefits will shrink if unemployment is lower; state and local governments will bank some of their aid if revenue rises 1/

    So any worries you might have about excessive demand should be alleviated by this de facto “automatic stabilizer” aspect of the plan 2/

    From Austan Goolsbee (who worked in the Obama administration–economic adviser, I think):

    Goolsbee on Summers’ op-ed: “I don’t think he’s right … He’s thinking of this as a traditional stimulus. It’s not. This is a rescue and relief package.”

    “We face a bunch of permanent damage if we do not do a relief package big and quickly”

    I feel like Summers isn’t disagreeing that much with Krugman and Goolsbee. Summers seems to be believe that the plan is sound and that going too big is better than going too small. He’s just raising potential risks and suggesting a way to respond to them.

    2/7/2021

    How to Make Biden’s American Rescue Plan Better from Stan Veuger, from the Bulwark

  6. When U.S. presidents spoke like this, I remember taking their words for granted.

    Now, I don’t. This is great to hear. This is who we are.

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