(This article was also published at Real Clear Politics and is re-posted with permission)
Commentary by Andy Puzder
Imitation, it’s said, is the greatest form of flattery. In that sense, Joe Biden’s transparent attempt to pilfer President Trump’s “Made in America” slogan in a recent speech in Pennsylvania demonstrates better than any poll just how effective and popular Trump’s “America First” policies are.
Of course, Biden missed the point of “America First” and ignored the impact of the president’s related tax cuts and regulatory reductions. Biden’s focus instead is to spend $700 billion on economic recovery while he taxes and regulates American businesses into stagnation—again. We shouldn’t be surprised. Biden has spent decades in the Washington swamp promoting bad trade deals, higher taxes, and more government regulation.
Plagiarism, whether literal or figurative, seems to be a hallmark of Biden’s presidential campaigns. In 1988, he was forced to give up his bid after he was found to have pilfered speeches from other prominent politicians in the U.S. and Great Britain. Apparently, Biden has forgotten about that humiliation. Just last summer, his campaign acknowledged that, in laying out the candidate’s education and climate plans, it had lifted language from other sources, at points word for word, without attribution.
Mimicking the president on trade might have been more believable if the Democrats had chosen a candidate with a consistent history—or any history—of protecting American workers and businesses from unfair foreign competition. Biden has supported the notion of “free trade,” but without the caveat that trade isn’t “free” unless it’s also “fair.”
This is particularly true with respect to Biden’s claim in his Pennsylvania speech that he would be “aggressive” on trade with China. That would be a first: For eight years, the Obama-Biden administration did nothing about America’s ballooning trade deficit with China.
That administration crafted and almost secured passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that President Trump killed because it favored other nations at the expense of American jobs, businesses, and national sovereignty. TPP was modeled after the disastrous NAFTA deal, which Biden also supported, and which destroyed more than 1 million American jobs before Trump replaced it with the freer and fairer United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Biden’s tax and regulatory policies are simply inconsistent with his recent pro-America, pro-jobs, and pro-growth rhetoric. As vice president, he helped oversee the expansion of business-crushing regulation, as the Federal Registry of Regulations grew to a historic 100,000 pages by the end of 2016. This massive expansion of the regulatory state contributed to the administration’s record of anemic economic growth, logging the slowest economic recovery since World War II.
All that changed with Trump’s election. He emphasized smart deregulation, lower taxes, and genuinely free and fair trade policies that benefit U.S. workers and businesses alike. Last December, the White House reported that, for every new regulation issued during President Trump’s time in office, his administration has eliminated an average of 8.5, vastly exceeding the 2:1 ratio he had set as an initial goal.
By October 2019, the Trump administration had succeeded in cutting regulatory costs by over $50 billion, with total projected savings of up to $220 billion once the cuts take full effect. This deregulation will help save American households an average of $3,100 annually—on top of the Trump tax cut’s savings for a typical family of four of about $2,900 per year in federal income taxes.
Biden’s response? The “first thing” on his agenda if elected, he says, would be to “eliminate the president’s tax cut.”
Increasing regulations and taxes is standard fare for Democrats, but Biden’s big-government agenda makes little sense in the context of his supposed plan to help American businesses.
In his Pennsylvania speech, Biden pledged to raise the corporate tax rate, stating, “I’m gonna raise it back up to 28%” from its current rate of 21%. So, while our economy is recovering from the economic shutdown, Biden plans to help American businesses by increasing the U.S. corporate tax by 33%. Even President Obama once famously said, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.”
Rather than sparking American business growth with tax cuts and regulatory relief supplemented by government spending, Biden’s plan focuses only on the government spending—$700 billion to create jobs, he says—while he increases taxes and regulations on the same businesses he expects to create those jobs. It won’t work. John Maynard Keynes fantasies aside, massive government spending alone cannot create sustained economic growth.
Perhaps someone should remind the former vice president that in January 2009, the Obama administration’s economic advisers issued a report arguing for massive government stimulus, claiming that the spending would keep unemployment below 8%. Democrats passed the famous $800 billion stimulus bill in February 2009. The unemployment rate surpassed 8% that month and stayed above it for the next 43 months.
In contrast, President Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation unleashed the full potential of the U.S. economy, giving his “Buy American” policies a substantially greater impact than they ever could have under a Biden presidency.
Respectfully, Joe Biden lacks the economic acumen or private-sector experience to determine what is in America’s best economic interests. His plan should be called “Buy American Votes,” because that’s all that it can really accomplish—and likely all that it is intended to accomplish.