If there is a political slogan this blog lives by, it’s ‘people have to like this crap.’ And people like having things. That’s why all the preemptive caterwauling about a proposal floated by Sen. Chuck Schumer for an executive order to eliminate up to $50,000 of student debt per former student is so stupid: the people who get this will never forget and be loyal for a very long time (and since this group disproportionately voted for you, maybe, for once, professional Democrats could send some boodle to their own supporters? Try it, you might like it, professional Democrats!). Yes, this executive order would help people with college educations. But Biden is allowed to sign other executive orders that could help other, different people too! He doesn’t get three sheets of paper, and once he uses them up, he can’t issue any more orders.
Maybe we could push him to sign an executive order mandating a $15/hour minimum wage (and no separate tipped wage minimum) for all federal contractors and subcontractors. A boy can dream!
Which brings us to a column by Jamelle Bouie, where he points out what should be obvious, but sadly isn’t (boldface mine):
…I want to propose an alternative explanation for the election results, one that accounts for the president’s relative improvement as well as that of the entire Republican Party.
It’s the money, stupid.
At the end of March, President Trump signed the Cares Act, which distributed more than half a trillion dollars in direct aid to more than 150 million Americans, from stimulus checks ($1,200 per adult and $500 per child for households below a certain income threshold) to $600 per week in additional unemployment benefits. These programs were not perfect — the supplement unemployment insurance, in particular, depended on ramshackle state systems, forcing many applicants to wait weeks or even months before they received assistance — but they made an impact regardless. Personal income went up and poverty went down, even as the United States reported its steepest ever quarterly drop in economic output.
Now, the reason this many Americans received as much assistance as they did is that Democrats fought for it over the opposition of Republicans who believed any help beyond the minimum would degrade the will to work for whatever wage employers were willing to pay. “The moment we go back to work, we cannot create an incentive for people to say, ‘I don’t need to go back to work because I can do better someplace else,’” Senator Rick Scott of Florida argued on the floor of the Senate.
But voters, and especially the low-propensity voters who flooded the electorate in support of Trump, aren’t attuned to the ins and outs of congressional debate. They did not know — and Democrats didn’t do a good enough job of telling them — that the president and his party opposed more generous benefits. All they knew is that Trump signed the bill (and the checks), giving them the kind of government assistance usually reserved for the nation’s ownership class.
Nearly everything in politics has multiple explanations and there are many factors that can and do explain the election results. But I would not ignore the extent to which the Republican Party’s strong performance can be explained simply by the fact that it was the party in power when the government put a lot of money into the hands of a lot of people who didn’t have it before.
Give people nice things, by hook and by crook if necessary. Because people have to like this crap.