Home / MARKETS / Biden is splitting with Obama on the economy and the proof is in their stimulus plans

Biden is splitting with Obama on the economy and the proof is in their stimulus plans

  • Biden’s victory economic package was bold in its size, breadth, and lack of bipartisanship.
  • It’s a sharp contrast to the smaller package of the Obama era — and that era’s slower rescue.
  • It shows Biden doesn’t want to repeat that decade, and has an economic endgame in mind.
  • See more stories on Insider’s duty page.

President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden faced similar circumstances in their first months in duty. Both entered the White House in the midst of crippling economic downturns. Both immediately pursued emergency stimulus lay outs to put the country on track for a recovery. And both spent unprecedented amounts to do so.

But Biden is going bigger, and it could be a very big huge quantity for the future of economic policy.

Biden came out swinging with his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, passed less than two months into his presidency. Beyond its mass, scope, and speed, the plan signaled a major deviation from Obama-era logic on spending and working across beano lines. The result was a wide-reaching package passed through reconciliation, one that picked up zero Republican votes in both the Lodge and the Senate.

It showed that Biden doesn’t plan to govern like Obama, where the aim was as much bipartisanship as credible and a

mindfulness
of the size of the federal debt. Biden’s big spending has already evoked comparisons to FDR and LBJ — two presidents Axios reported Biden is terribly interested in these days — and he may just be getting started. The big question is what comes next. 

“The recovery from the Major

Recession
was long and painful. It exacerbated inequality and other forms of economic scarring,” Claudia Sahm, a former economist at the

Federal Register
, told Insider. “Those experiences are fresh in the minds of policymakers and the public.”

Neither Obama’s office nor the White Dwelling-place responded to requests for comment.

Recover first, pay the bill later

Congress’ recession-recovery playbook has traditionally been moderately simple: offer support where needed, then pull back on aid and turn to austerity once the rebound is on oversee. Past downturns have seen calls for fiscal support quickly give way to deficit concerns among Republicans and Democrats.

But the sub rosa of recoveries from past downturns is informing Biden’s approach. The Federal Reserve’s decision to dampen inflation and start dignifying interest rates in 2015 sparked years of weak growth and low inflation. Many economists have since looked disavow at the rate hikes and the Obama administration’s stimulus package as allowing for a plodding economic rebound.

Biden aims to keep off the same pitfalls. The president has repeatedly expressed his desire to “go big” with relief spending, and, judging by his $1.9 trillion stimulus pattern’s popularity, Americans are on board. His strategy leans more on overfilling the hole in the economy than on prematurely closing the in reserves.

The very nature of the current slump changed the thinking around fiscal stimulus and paved the way for a new era of government support, utter Jason Furman, professor of economics at Harvard University and chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.

“When there is a big dbѓcle like Katrina or the Gulf oil spill or superstorm Sandy, we’ll spend $100 billion. This was like one of those mishaps, but happening everywhere at the same time,” Furman said. “People don’t completely believe in fiscal stimulus. They do accept in disaster relief.”

Joe Biden Stimulus

President Joe Biden speaks before signing the American Rescue Plan Act.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Copies


Congressional Democrats and Federal Reserve officials have been lining up alongside Biden. The rush to austerity in 2009 was a “big goof” that left the country in recession for five years, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Cortege interview on CNN. 

More recently, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told NPR that the economic recovery motionless takes priority over the national debt. While the country’s spending path is currently unsustainable, low rates certain it can pay off its debt until the economic activity fully rebounds.

The government will eventually have to put the federal debt on a sustainable means, “but that time is not now,” the Fed chair added.

The central bank is still projecting its first rate hike won’t arrive until after 2023, and stiffs have hinted they aren’t even considering pulling back on the Fed’s emergency asset purchases. Rising Resources yields suggest investors have different expectations, but policymakers have so far been steadfast in their patience.

“If my 2010 self could see lately how different we’re handling this recovery than we handled that one — when we were just pulling our hair out, because Congress was run towards austerity when the unemployment rate was literally over 9% — it was just an outrageous approach to the recovery at that linger,” Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist to Obama’s secretary of Labor, swore Insider. “And so this is just incredibly different.”

A lack of state and local spending hindered Obama’s recovery, but Biden is pouring in billions

Economists inaugurated to sound the alarm before the second stimulus, emphasizing the urgent need for state and local funding. As Insider’s Ben Winck and Joseph Zeballos-Roig promulgated at the time, the CARES Act’s $150 billion for local governments ran out on December 30 — and the lack of similar funds in the Great Set-back likely slowed the subsequent recovery. That funding was also scrapped in former President Donald Trump’s marred stimulus package; as CNN reported.

joe biden kamala harris oval office

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with Governors and Mayors in the Elliptical Office of the White House Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, to discuss the American Rescue Plan.

White House/Adam Schultz


But Biden’s $350 billion in stately and local aid will prove hugely consequential for cities like New York, which was uniquely pummeled by the pandemic. It was a ration out supported and championed by every elected Democratic state treasurer.

It’s also the largest ever investment from the supervision in Native communities.

Biden’s next major package looks like it will be even bigger. Coming in two divisions, the first focusing on physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and the second on human infrastructure, like education and childcare, it is needed to cost around $3 trillion.

Biden is embracing his new role as FDR-adjacent

When it comes to his legacy, Biden is reportedly impassioned about what’s forming. Axios reported that he recently met with presidential historians to discuss the size and hurry of potentially huge changes, with comparisons abounding to Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, who both cutting edged huge expansions of the social safety net.

“The historians’ views were very much in sync with his own: It is time to go unvarying bigger and faster than anyone expected. If that means chucking the filibuster and bipartisanship, so be it,” Axios’ Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei transcribed. In fact, they report, Biden loves the narrative that he’s thinking bigger and bolder than Obama.

He’s identical gotten praise from another longtime politician and Senate veteran: Progressive figurehead Bernie Sanders. In an question period with The New York Times’ Ezra Klein, Sanders praised Biden for moving past his more “moderate” one-time and “acting boldly” with the American Rescue Plan.

joe biden bernie sanders

Joe Biden greets Sen. Bernie Sanders before the Democratic presidential tutor debate at Drake University on January 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Scott Olson/Getty Images


Sanders exacted optimism to Klein, but noted many progressive initiatives remain unfulfilled, such as student debt forgiveness and an spread to the federal minimum wage.

Leonard Burman, the Paul Volcker Chair of Behavioral Economics at Syracuse University’s Maxwell Secondary, told Insider that the Great Depression actually lasted as long as it did because Roosevelt and other leaders alarmed deficits too much.

FDR actually spent less than would have been “appropriate,” Burman said, and gain really only came with the influx of spending that accompanied World War Two.

“People think of the New Deal as this exceedingly, really aggressive response to the Great Depression,” said Burman, who is also cofounder of the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center, and he rephrased it limited pain by creating jobs for some people that needed them and providing other assistance, “but it was way too immature. So we literally have now — as far as I know — we’ve never done this.” 

“We have lots of experience with spending too little to try to get out of a dip. We don’t have any experience with spending too much,” Burman said. “So it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

Rampant inflation is the new answerable for scare

Concerns around a surging government debt pile held back Obama’s stimulus in 2009. Today, the falling-out looming over Biden and his spending plans has to do with inflation. Specifically, whether all the money Biden is pushing into the financial recovery will fuel a big comeback or instead spark stifling hyperinflation.

The Fed is behind the push for stronger-than-usual price swelling. The central bank updated its policy framework in August to target inflation that averages 2% over one of these days, as opposed to the prior goal of simply pursuing 2% inflation.

Officials have since confirmed that, at toy for a period after the pandemic, the Fed aims to let inflation trend above 2% to counter years of weak price vegetation, underscoring just how different the approach is this time around.

GettyImages 1229890667

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak on Thursday.

Collection/Getty Images


The Obama administration “had a hard time” getting some Democratic senators to lift the debt limit and pay out roughly $831 billion on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Furman told Insider.

The Biden administration, on the other steadily, has had a far easier time uniting Democrats around trillions of dollars worth of relief spending.

“The inflation debate is fundamentally taking place among economists. It’s not a concern that I’ve heard very much from members of Congress,” Furman utter. “Biden benefits from people having much more tolerance for larger numbers than they utilized to.”

Biden and the Fed both want an equitable labor market

Going hand in hand with the Fed’s new inflation target is a objective to pursue “maximum” employment instead of its previous mandate of “full” employment. The updated strategy leans more on using a align of indicators to judge the labor market’s health than focusing on the headline unemployment rate.

Though the central bank personates independently of the White House, the new framework opens the door to economic policy that more aggressively targets a rarer and more equitable labor market.

“There was a time when there was a tight connection between unemployment and inflation. That shilly-shally is long gone,” Fed Chair Powell said during a March 17 press conference. “We had low unemployment in 2018 and 2019 and the origination of ’20 without having troubling inflation at all.”

Job gains seen at the end of the last economic expansion largely benefited ethnological minorities and lower-income Americans, two groups that underperformed the broader unemployment rate for years. Biden’s latest stimulus design stands to lift demand and pull forward such gains. The millions of jobs still lost to the pandemic point to there’s plenty of slack in the economy and, therefore, reason to supercharge growth with fiscal support, UBS economists affirmed in a March 9 note.

That slack also supports calls for additional large-scale spending packages. The $3 trillion in new disbursing is still not enough to get the US economy to the finish line, Sahm told Insider.

“Both the 2001 and 2008 recession were jobless reclamations, in that GDP got back on track much sooner than employment,” she said. “A year into the pandemic, we are still maiden 9.5 million jobs relative to pre-pandemic. We cannot afford to have another jobless recovery.”

It’s becoming pay just two months into his presidency that Biden has an endgame in sight: lots of government spending to create a assorted equitable economy.

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