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tv   Brookings Institution Discussion on President Bidens First 100 Days  CSPAN  May 4, 2021 8:27am-10:01am EDT

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c-span podcast at c-span.org/podcasts. >> this week we're featuring booktv programs showcasing what's available and you weekend on c-span2. >> watch booktv tonight beginning at eight eastern on c-span2. >> next, , discussion president biden's first 100 days in
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office. brookings institution scholars examine the administrations achievements and challenges on a variety of issues. this runs 90 minutes. >> good morning, everyone. my name is elaine kamarck. i'm senior fellow at the brookings institution, and welcome to this webinar on joe biden's first 100 days. let me just start by saying that the one and only reason that we mark the 100 days of the presidency is because of franklin roosevelt, president roosevelt. there is no statutory or constitutional significance, but franklin roosevelt's 100 days is without equal in the 20th century. taking 33 was the depth of the great depression. residents inaugural address is responsible for the rays we have nothingar to fear but fear itse. lesson two weeks after that he gave the first of many website
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chats, explaining over the radio in simple terms what was happening to americans and how he would fix it. what roosevelt's mastery of rhetoric and of the new medium of radio when when not wham the president who is remembered for the first 100 days. it was the breathtaking scope of bold and new actions both legislative and regulatory, the set the bar so high. to name but a few in those hundred days he declared a bank holiday which stopped the disastrous run on the banks. he took america off the gold standard. he passed groundbreaking legislation and amendments to the hated gold stud act which create prohibition. immediately there were parties all of america in celebration. and ever since, presidents have been evaluated for their performance in the first 100 days. in fact, the amount of
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legislation that roosevelt passed was so amazing that the comedian will rogers joked at the time quote, congress doesn't pass legislation anymore. they just wave as the bills go by. saprocit to say, if you have lived up to roosevelt. nevertheless, the 100 day mark has become a time when we collectively take the measure of a new president which is what we're going to be doing today. just to a reminder come you can submit questions for speakers by e-mailing events@brookings.edu or via twitter using hashtag when hundred days. so let's get right into it. the hallmark ofbi the biden presidency as far as i'm concernedes is clear, underprome and overdeliver. in december president elect biden announced that innt his first hundred days in office, 100 million shots for the covid
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vaccine would be administered to americans. at the time it seemed like a dangerous, maybe a downright foolish pronouncement. by march american met that goal and by the time biden made his first address to congress at the end of his first 100 days he could announce over 220,000 shots -- 220 million shots had been administered. tonight i can say because of you, the american people, this vaccine has been one of the best logistical achievement this country has ever seen. so his accomplishments stand in stark contrast to his predecessor who often did exactly the opposite. he overpromised and under delivered. by october 2020 as the coronavirus raged, trump had declared that it would be gone no less than 38 times. and, of course, there's been other dramatic contrast to trump. he immediately rejoin the paris
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climate the accords and he a former senator, presidential candidate and secretary of state john kerry in charge of climate negotiations, which makes him a reckoning the most presidential presidential staff forever. so let's discuss all of this and more, and to do this we have panel of great brookings scholars. bill galston is the chair in governance and senior fellow at brookings. he served with me in the clinton administration and is the author of countless booksme and articls on both public policy and political philosophy. his latest book is anti-pluralism, the populist threat to liberal democracy. next is molly reynolds, senior fellow. at studies. she studies congress with an emphasis and how congressional rules and procedure affect domestic policy outcomes. she is the author of the book exceptions to the rule, the politics of filibuster limitations in the u.s. senate.
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and she also is editor of the vital statistics on congress, one of the most important compendiums of data on the united states congress. camille busette is senior fellow in cabinet study with affiliate appointments in economic studies and the metropolitan policy program. she is the director of our race, prosperity, and inclusion initiative and focuses on issues of racial justice, economic mobility for low-income communities and communities of color. at brookings over his focus on systemic racism, the economic advancement of like a native american boys, importance of social relationships to economic mobility, and equity in health care in state and local government. john hudak as deputy director of the center for effective public management and managing director, managing editor of our very well read blog.
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his recent books are marijuana, a short history, which offers a uniques up-to-date profile of e cannabis emerged from the shadows of the counterculture and illegality to become a serious and even mainstream public policy issue. and before that he is the author of presidential pork, , why does influence over the distribution of federal grants, which demonstrates that porkbarrel politics occurs beyond the halls of congress. and last but certainly not least is jon valant. he's a senior fellow at the brown center on education policy here at brookings. john studies k-12 education policy and politics with a focus on equity and urban reform. much of hisus current work examines school choice reforms especially in new orleans where he is a nonresident research fellow at there education reseah alliance for new orleans.
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so with that come with this great group ahead of us, let's start with the bill. and bill, i wanted to have you start because i know you've written recentlybe about this. tell us, how is a public reacting to buy his first 100 days? and how does this compare to the first 100 days of previous modern presidents? >> i would summarize it as follows. his first 100 days, joen has made no new friends, but no new enemies, either. his approval rating overall is between 53 and 54%, which is within hailing distance of what he got in the november 2020 election. he is strong now where he was strong then. he is weak now where he was weak then. especially with white voters who have a college degree, and his
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support of -- among hispanics remains quite weak when managed against traditional expectations. he's getting high marks on personal qualities, people like the way he has conducted himself as president. they especially believe that he cares about average americans, he gets somewhat lower but still positive marks for honesty and leadership. he gets his lowest marks, though still positive for uniting the country, and that may reflect the fact that he enjoys -- the greatest ever partisan gap in job approval as far as modern polling is concerned. he enjoys the support of 96% of democrats, i guess the other 4% just checked the wrong box, but
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only 10% of republicans, with a gap of 86 percentage points out of a possible 100. i don't think this record will be topped anytime soon. so what about the issues? he gets especially high marks for his handling of the coronavirus and the distribution of the vaccine. he is in positive territory on the economy and climate. people are not so happy with his handling of the gun issue and immigration. americans like the first bill that he introduced, the rescue bill. they liked it when he first proposed it and they like it now , where direct checks are especially popular. no big surprise there. they are cautiously favorable to the jobs bill, and the bill
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gates increased popularity when people are told it will be financed with taxes on corporations and the wealthy, rather than a more general tax increase. finally, the mechanics of the first 100 days, where the biden team has been functioning pretty smoothly. a few public controversies, the events have been handled professionally with extensive advance preparation in which the president has been intensely involved. and the president and his team have been rationing the presidents public appearances on the theory that what is scarce will be more highly valued. so far, so good. to wrap it all up, how is biden doing compared to previous presidents in the modern era?
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answer, a lot better than trump, but not as well as all the others. and it may very well be that in this era of intense particle polarizations, -- partisan polarization, it's a level of support the president of the united states can expect to enjoy. >> there is a piece on our brookings site about president biden's public approval in his first 100 days and some of the graphs and charts in there i'm sure will be interesting to everyone who has just listened to bill. molly, a lot of the president's success depends on his relationship with congress. for instance, and i have a personal memory of this, jimmy carter had a really tough relationship with his own party in congress. it started off badly and
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frankly, never really improved, getting so bad that he got a primary challenge from senator kennedy for his run in 1980. how is biden doing with this relationship with congress in his first 100 days? molly: i will start with one of the things that bill mentioned, which is the american rescue plan. for the biden administration's first major legislative priority right out of the gate, they got it passed quite quickly. i think there is some value in comparing how quickly the biden administration was able to move on their first legislative priority, to where the trump administration was on their first legislative priority, which was repealing obama care. that obviously failed. the biden priority moved quite quickly. we can talk more about why that
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is, but there is a sense, i think, that part of five the american rescue plan moved so quickly as it did was because biden was a driving force. there was a sense among folks on the hill that it was important to give a first legislative when , rack up something big to help the american people. with the narrowest of majority, congressional democrats had campaigned on it. over the next several months that next big legislative priorities, it's a little less clear if that will help drive agreement on the two components of the infrastructure plan, the jobs piece and then the piece to support american families. the choice about how to proceed
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on those other legislative items will be a bit more complicated. there's a question about how bipartisan, as measured by working with congressional republicans, with polling on the jobs package and the package meant to support american families. that is an element quite popular among voters of both parties, whether there will be republicans to vote for something in congress on how aggressively does the white house want to work with congress to try to construct such a package, and there's a question of how and in what ways to use the reconciliation process for budgetary procedures that allow for certain legislating without the filibuster that was used for the american rescue plan. there are number of open
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strategic and procedural questions about the degree to which and how many more times that process is available for additional legislative priorities by the biden team. what i will say, though, is that at the very least, the biden white house has not been a destabilizing force in the way the trump white house sometimes was. we think about things that happened during the trump administration like the government shut down at the begin -- at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. that happened in part because president trump was saying one thing at one meeting and a different thing at another meeting. he not help congress drive to agreement when there was disagreement within congress, which is inevitable. i sent -- i think that one important feature of the first 100 days is that that is not what we are seeing anymore. we are seeing the white house as a consistent, taking a
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consistent position on issues. there is much less concern that joe biden is going to change his mind. and to make a note of how the senate is doing in processing presidential nominations, are nonresident colleague had a tracker on this, as of last week, the last time it was updated, biden is going a little bit quicker than trump but slower than obama in terms of stabbing up -- staffing up positions in the first 100 days. for biden, some of the obstacles, some of the reason it has not moved as quickly as some
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folks would have like involved in part the long delay we experience in the senate organizing itself from the beginning of the year. so we didn't know who would control the senate until those runoff elections in georgia the first week of january and then it jumped up several more weeks for leader shoe room or and mcconnell to reach agreement on how they would organize a tight senate. i think that has delayed somewhat the process of getting folks confirmed. that's just an important thing to keep an ion, given how divided congress is. as we move out of some of the big legislative thing and two things that may be more difficult to get done legislatively, that will be a thing to keep an ion moving
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forward. >> and for our listeners and viewers, molly has a piece on congress in the first 100 days on the brookings website, and also there's an updated account of the way personnel is going. that should be up sometime today , final update to the first 100 days. camille, there is a famous january memo to president biden in which he pointed out that there were quattro overlapping compounding crises, the code 19 crisis, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, and the racial equity crisis. i mentioned in my opening remarks cove 19 and climate. can you fill us in a little bit, give us your judgment on how he is doing on the economic front
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and on the racial equity front. camille: it's great to be here, good morning, everybody. thank for joining us. i'm going to start with the economy because i think the picture there is a little clearer than it is on the racial equity front. in april of 2020, a little over a year ago, our unemployment rate was 14.8% nationally. we are now down to 6% nationally across the board, and that is likely to drop significantly within the next few months. so one of the measures of the economy that is important, that people have jobs, the biden administration is just doing an excellent job. most of that has been driven by both the successful vaccination
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effort, and as molly mentioned, the quick passage of the american rescue plan, which is led to a high level of consumer spending because of the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits that are included as part of that plan. so i think we are doing really well. there are a lot of sectors of the ape on me -- of the economy that are not exactly where we were, but certainly heading in that direction. that is true for food service industry, somewhat for hospitality, leisure, some of the things that have been really battling almost closure in the last year or so. we think about disneyland in california, it just recently opened. those are the kind of things that are happening.
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so the picture in the economy is fairly clear for the moment. what we're doing now is we are waking up -- making up for lost ground in terms of economic growth. however, there are still 4.2 million people who are in the long term unemployment category. that means people who have been unemployed for 27 months are more. that is a pretty high number. we need that to be chipped away at. 9.6 unemployment is much higher than the 5.4% by white unemployment. so we have some ground to make up, but overall we are doing pretty well there. i would say in terms of racial equity, something like racial
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equity is going to be very difficult to address in 100 days. the first thing i think is that the biden administration has normalized the concept, this is now a common term, they use it a lot. it is in a lot of official pronouncements. they are basically acknowledging systemic racism exists and that it can be rectified. generally speaking, that is a good thing. there are -- every federal agency is tax with the dressing racial equity issues. that is a big advancement from previous administrations, and certainly from the prior administration.
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doing that in a much more explicit way is certainly a step in the right direction. the biden administration has obviously made it a real priority to try to make sure that vaccinations happen among marginalized communities. they have also given a lot of attention to family paid leave to get vaccines. this is important because a lot of low income workers don't get time off, and this allows him to do that. there is a great effort to reach out to marginalized communities and inclusive in policy dialogue. a lot of the meetings that are happening at the white house are becoming inclusive. they are dressing the national conversation, particularly around police brutality, and making it clear that the administration is in the struggle. the department of justice has
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renewed their attention on consent decrees. it is making up for lost ground there. [indiscernible] where i think we have, and we will talk about this later in the conversation, we have a crisis in unemployment, and we have a crisis in policing. those two crises are going to take a lot of work, there are a lot of different kinds of stakeholders, to get to a point where all americans are comfortable with who we are. >> great, thank you, camille. i want to go next to john hudak. what happens to presidents, as you know, having studied the presidency as well, what happens
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is a lot of things come out that they didn't really plan for and would rather frankly have not been dealing with. one of the biggest in the biden first 100 days has been the percentage of new people at the southern border, the new immigrants. and not related to that, but back home, and camille mentioned this, nonstop episodes of police brutality in policing departments around the country. i'd like you to touch on both of those. how would you evaluate biden's performance so far in these two areas? john: thanks, everyone, for joining us today. immigration is a really tough issue, and while i agree with the comments and polling data, immigration is an area that really bugs this trend. this is bucks the trend.
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in a lot of ways, it's an area where the administration over promised and so far has under delivered. and the american public is recognizing this. right now, only about 37% of americans support the administration's handling of immigration issues. that is in part because of some bad press and in part because of some issues that are a bit out of the president's control. but it is also in part because of some choices that this administration made. one of the problems the administration faces, one of the challenges is that the previous administration dismantled in many ways the immigration system that we have, and they did so purposely. they broke the system not to rebuild it, but for the sake of breaking it. that creates an administrative challenge for the new administration and is twofold. first, americans expect something different from
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president biden, but at the same time, those expectations are high, but there is an under appreciation in the public that there is an administrative rebuilding that has to happen for that agenda to be put into action to be achieved. at the same time, there's two other forces that are acting on the administration in this area of policy that in some ways are outside of the presidents reach, but at the same time or creating policy successes. one is a recovering economy. when the economy is strong in the united states, there is pressure in other areas of the world for individuals to come to -- that is compounded by the fact that they are also doing well from a public health perspective relative to a lot of other countries around the world in terms of achieving the level
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of vaccination that we have. that, to pop, creates motivation for individuals to come to the united states. at the same time, president biden has changed from his predecessor by showing a more humanitarian approach to issues, and that motivates individuals to come to the united states. when they get here, the biden administration that said, this was obvious, i think, it was foreseeable for the administration, the transition team. they knew there was a crisis at the border when they came to office and they knew as the economy improved and presidential rhetoric changed, that challenge would only grow larger and they appear, by most accounts and certainly by
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disapproval from the public, underprepared for that moment, and that is bringing real challenges. it is compounded by some other areas that the administration has mishandled. one being the refusal to revoke title 42, which allows the administration to turn away individuals at the border for public health reasons. the other is the biden administration promised to raise the cap on the number of refugees who could be admitted into the country. there were clear expectations the president would do better on immigration and so far he has not met those public expectations. it is important to note, these are not just expectations in the united states, it is expectations across the coalition, they expected him to be -- in an area that was a
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disaster for the trump administration. i think in the same way we often think of immigration issues as being important only to the latino community, we sometimes think of policing issues only being imported into the black community in the united states and that is not true, either. democrats across the board want to the administration to do more on policing. policing is a really complicated issue, it is not something a president can handle himself. it is something where the federal government needs to work with state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, attorneys general, etc., and that is a coordinated process that requires time, space, communication, and a real strategy. i agree 100% with camille -- spectrum president biden -- expecting president biden to solve this in the first 100 days is too much.
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but all eyes across the democratic party, moderates, independents, and republicans will be on the way this administration can coordinate that policy nationwide to make sure what we are seeing on facebook videos and other types of social media, police brutality, changes, and accountability is a permanent part of the system. elaine: that is very interesting. as you were talking about the warning signs on immigration, it reminds me of the obama administration, which missed a lot of the warning signs on the veterans administration which then became a scandal. a lot of these things are there in the transition and people make mistakes, people miss things, people ignore things that come back to bite them. let's turn to education for a minute. one of president-elect biden's
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biggest and most popular pledges was that he would not only get americans vaccinated, but children back in school. that was enormously popular. what is the status of children vis-à-vis schooling right now, and what are the prospects for the biden administration in the area of education in the coming years? jon: thank you elaine, and thank you everyone at home. education is on a lot of people's minds. i start by saying the obvious, this has been a difficult 14 months for a lot of parents and kids across the country. there are proms being canceled and kindergartners behind zoom came >> kindergarteners behind zoom cameras and parents who would like to go to work, but can't, it's been a very difficult 14 months and that's been especially true for some groups of students. students in poverty. students of color, likely to have their schools closed. students in rural areas who have particular problems with wi-fi connectability and
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challenges and disconnected from resources that they really need. kids need to be in school and parents need their kids to be in school and we have some research on what's happened with kids on school and it's not pretty. you know? we've seen a lot of evidence that learning over this past 14 months has not been what it typically has and so, in answer to your question, what the biden administration did early on, they set a metric and said within 100 days, the majority of elementary and secondary schools will be open five days a week for in-person learning and they kind of stumbled around with how exactly they were going to define that metric, but that's basically what they were promising. you know, it's always been kind of a silly metric so partly silly because school reopenings are local decisions. the federal government cannot command schools to open, that's a decision that really rests with school boards and local officials around the country. the other reason it's a silly metric, that data that we had early on like in the very beginning of the biden
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administration suggested we were already there or almost certainly going to get there so this is maybe a prime example of overpromise and overdeliver. there was almost no chance without something really -- a really bad turn with the virus, there's almost no chance they weren't going to hit that metric. so the metric itself was kind of silly, but they have done some important things on that point in particular. the first is that they depoliticized school reopening. so the question of whether or not schools are open in person or virtual learning is not one that sounds inherently like it should be a political question, but it certainly has been and there's research, i just found that when school districts were announcing their various initial plans and research what happened as it played out, it looked at which school districts and which parts of the country are opening in person and which are keeping with virtual learning and what predicted school reopenings is
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not covid transmission, it's not the local public health danger, it's not characteristics of the population, it's the politics. it's the county support is sort of the strongest predictor of what school districts have been doing. so this question got really charged and really politicized in large part because the trump administration charged and politicized it so the biden administration was stepping into that context and what i think they did was really important was they communicated and signaled early on that getting kids back in school in person is a priority and it's a priority to democrats, too, and the students need to be in school physically. and i think that sort of lowered the temperature a bit on the school reopenings and along with that, and i should say, too, they put out guidance and they helped. and there are things that you can do from washington, even if you can't command the school opening, and miguel cardona has
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been talking about what it takes to reopenwell. and the other piece they got resources to schools quickly and it was a substantial investment from the federal government. in the american rescue plan, it was about 125 billion dollars that went to k-12 schools to help them with reopening and what would follow after reopening and there should have been more money in the has administration to help with sort of immediate needs of getting students back into schools when you had the shutdown and this is sort of, hopefully, at least, on the tail end of that, what this money is doing, it's helpful for districts that are thinking about what students need and what communities need and they're using it in interesting and creative ways because they have some flexibility so they can offer tutors and counselors, they can offer summer school or extended learning time and all of those kind of things take money and so, even though the metric, i think, was kind of silly and
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there's only so much they can do by sort of toning down the politics a little bit and then getting resources for the schools that are reopening can both get open and address some of the issues that we've had in the last 14 months, i think it's moved us in the right direction. >> great, well, thank you. thank you, everybody. this is a good overview of -- and not overly rosie and not overly ppessimistic, against this overview, i'll go in the order that we originally did, starting with bill. how did you compare biden's first 100 days to the beginnings of other administrations, post roosevelt, of course? what are the similarities, the differences? is there any president that sort of jumps out at you either as a similar trajectory or a very different one?
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bill, do you want to take a crack at that? >> this is a tough one, but let me just snatch from the air the three comparisons that are most frequently made to fdr, to lbj and to ronald reagan. and i hope there are some people watching or listening who are 36 or younger. if you are, you never experienced a presidential landslide defined roughly as victory by 10 percentage point or more. this is the longest period in american history without a presidential landslide. and joe biden certainly didn't get one. he didn't get one on his own behalf, he didn't get one in the house, in the senate, it narrowly divided as they possibly could be.
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by comparison here are landslides that history recorded. fdr, 1932, he won the presidency with a 18 percentage point margin. democrats gained 101 seats in the house of representatives and 12 in the senate. when the dust settled, democrats had a margin of 313-117 in the house and they had a 21-seat margin in the state and they even picked up 11 governorships. it was a top to bottom landslide and that meant that fdr had enormous freedom of action. all right. he knew that congress would ratify whatever he proposed. or take lbj. he won the presidency by an even larger margin in 1964, 23 percentage points. and when the dust had settled
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on that election, democrats controlled the house by more than 2-1 majority and they controlled the senate by more than a 2-1 majority. 68-32. so if you're wondering why the new deal got off to a bad start and kept on going, or why the great society got off to a bad start and kept on going, just keep your eye on those numbers that i've just cited. and so the, you know, the dissimilarity between those two fast starts and the political situation that the biden administration faces could not be starker in my opinion. finally, ronald reagan. and this is a more interesting comparison, in my view, because
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reagan famously campaigned on and then announced it as he became president that government wasn't the solution, government was the problem. biden, it seems to me is trying to put a minus sign in front of that proposition and everything that he does is unified by the proposition in the circumstances we now face, government is the solution and not the problem. if he succeeds in establishing that premise in the minds of the american people as their default setting and the jury is still out on that, then the next decades of american public policy could be very different, from the past four decades where the frame was very much the opposite. however, and i'll end on this warning, ronald reagan's first year was not a single victory,
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it witnessed multiple legislative victories. and if, after the first year of the biden administration we can see not only the rescue plan, but also some version of the jobs plan and some version of the family plan enacted as well as the other policies that camille and john and john were talking about, then we could begin to talk about a comparison with ronald reagan. >> that's great, ben. and i would extend your point about people under 36 or just young people in general. this is-- and the flip side, this is probably the first president you've ever seen who has this much legislative and government experience. we really have not had-- i mean, obama did not have a deep breadth of experience,
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george w. bush did not have that. you really have to go back in time to get a president with this many years behind him and i'm not sure there are any that have this many years of experience and we'll see how that helps him. molly. >> yeah, so, i think just to sort of pick of where bill left off, when you think about comparisons between the biden first 100 days and other similar periods in relation to the u.s. congress, it's really hard to make a lot of comparisons because of the both historically high levels of polarization that we see between the parties in congress and the extremely narrow majorities that democrats enjoy in both chambers. and so, if you say, think back to the beginning of the obama administration, for example, then not only did democrats have a much larger majority in the senate than they do now, there was a period of time in
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the middle of 2009 when they had 60 votes in the senate, which seems like a pipe dream, frankly, to either party of getting a majority of that size in the near future and so we both have-- the democrats both had more senate votes to work with there and also, you should remember, a lot of the first six, nine months of the obama administration was similarly wrapped up in these conversations about working with republicans. but there were kind of more republicans that folks thought were potentially, potential legislative partners and again the it's a good comparison and we see that when we just look at the way in which the biden administration and the democratic congress are thinking about using the budget reconciliation process to do
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basically all of their party defining agenda items, which was a-- has been a future of the reconciliation process in recent years, but not before 2010. that's really not-- or argue that the bush tax cuts, but certainly not before the early 2000's. and so for me, again, to the u.s. congress, it's really difficult to kind of draw a good effective comparison. >> okay. fascinating. so, let's go now to camille. camille? >> i would agree largely with molly and bill that the comparisons are few. let's talk about, one is the economy and second on racial equity. on the economy with respect that government can solve a lot of our aggregate demand issues
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and our economic issues, you know, the philosophy that is being deployed here is not that different than maybe what fdr had deployed during the great depression, what works for biden in terms of the philosophy is that we're just still in the middle of the covid pandemic and recession and if ever there were an instance of how important the government is, certainly covid generated that, that, you know, illustrative example. so if the biden administration is able to push forward its other jobs act and families act then we might get to a point in the united states where that philosophy is a little bit more dominant than it is now. but again, the context of the congressional numbers, it's
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unlike what we saw during fdr or lbj. one they think i would say is that in terms of making sure that that -- in terms of encouraging that philosophy around government involved in the economy, biden is certainly in better shape than obama was because obama, due partly to the way that things were-- the numbers in congress, but also, just the general philosophical time and context around the government economy, the obama administration actually undertook a pretty limited relative to the problem so i would say that biden has, you know, some advantage over the obama administration given that they were both, you know, they both started in the middle of a crisis. on racial equity though, i don't think there is -- well there are any comparisons.
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we think about the kennedy administration, lbj, those are when the civil rights movement was really, i think, at its height and lbj has in a position, given his majority to act a radical, set program. that's not going to be the case for biden. so biden is really going to have to work to move together, to get the kind of movement that lbj got through his legislative program. so, again, i don't think there's a comparison, but i do think that biden needed help in this instance by the fact that almost everyone understands, they may not agree with, but they understand the terms, systemic racism, they know it exists, and certainly all the policy makers are aware of that and they're trying to navigate that and that's pretty different. >> okay. interesting.
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and you know, one of the things that kennedy, who has generally a fairly disastrous first 100 days because he authorized the bay of pigs invasion, which turned out to be sort of a mess, generally, kennedy's not given very good marks, but one of the things he did do early on, not sure it was quite in the 100 days, he did break control of the rules committee which is one of those little pieces of history molly would appreciate, being a rules expert, but until kennedy, the rules committee was controlled, was locked in by a group of southern segregationist senators, and so breaking the rules of the committee was, in fact, the procedural step of going forward with the civil rights legislation that we then saw. let's see, john hudak and john,
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how would you compare him? >> i agree with offing everything said so far. finding is comparison, i'll tell you why it's tough. it's the sheer amount of reversal that the biden administration needs to do relative to his predecessor, it's really unprecedented. every party transition in the presidency creates some of that upheaval or some significant or nontrivial level of upheaval, but this transition was far different. if we go back to the beginning of the obama administration, president trump and-- president obama and president bush were different, and even the 2008 foreign policy, the wars in afghanistan and iraq, president obama's policy ultimately was not that
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traumatically different than his predecessor's. what a lot of people fail to appreciate is just how much continuity there is from presidency to presidency, even during a party transition. this is very different. we are seeing the most -- one of the most, if not the most progressive-minded president in our history in terms of the policies that he has laid out and the types of ideas he has gotten behind, versus a president who was conservative by a lot of metrics, but also someone who thrived in political and administrative chaos. and that is such a traumatic dramatic clash who joe biden was a senator, a vice-president and now who he is as a president and i think that dramatic shift makes the comparison more challenging. next, while we've had presidents enter crisis during office and fdr, and president
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obama entered during a significant financial crisis and economic crisis, joe biden as you started off the program, elaine, you noted the four areas of crisis that the president mentioned, a public health crisis, an economic crisis, a climate crisis and a racial equity crisis. i would add to that an immigration crisis and a crisis of democracy as well that we're seeing right now, states are restricting voting rights as we saw, insurrectionists at the capitol to disrupt democratic and constitutional processes. these are real. while most presidents come to office with some type of crisis on their plate, i can't think of a president who has come to office with so many large, different crises that he has to deal with. so the ability to compare biden to obama, or obama to reagan, or biden to truman, just is so
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difficult because of the magnitude and diversity of the challenges that he faces. >> great. john. >> i'll pick up there, i think both of john's, a whole lot of reversal and into a setting where schools are closed and those unprecedented. so it's difficult to come up with comparisons, historically. historically the role in education has been extremely limited and it's ramped up and even now only 8% of funding comes from the federal government so it's still really limited, but that doesn't keep incoming administrations from having ideas and policy priorities. they often have things that they think that schools should do and ways they think that school systems should look and what was characterized the last administration, they realize they have ideas, but resistant to the ideas that the federal
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government is a place to do it. the trump administration, they came and had a vision early on, that they would have support for private school vouchers, private school programs, and the lack of support even with the republicans, their feeling of federal control even stronger and the obama administration had some and they ran into trouble of their own. and i just think there's some similaritities with the obama administration, they had the money that they were willing to put out to schools. to me, what is the most interesting distinction so far between the obama administration and the biden administration, the obama administration basically took that money and they dangled it as a carrot to try to get the states for the obama
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administration priorities, and we'll offer these up to the states behind our thinking on teacher evaluation and charter schools. the biden administration is taking a different path. for them the resources almost are the policies. they're getting resources into schools, but that they're not setting it up as competitive grants, which is kind of a preferred way of going in the obama administration. they're trying just to get funds to schools and the newer programs which are not k-12 focus, ramping up universal pre-k or community colleges, proposals to get money into the system without directing exactly how things look so i think they have a philosophical difference there in how they're thinking about things. but again, no sort of perfect comparison. >> john, that's so interesting because i was in the al gore campaign in 2000 and there were long stretches of that campaign
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where al gore and george w. bush acted as if they were running for school superintendent and it was -- i was very cognizant of the fact that they had little control over the situation and for john, i think that's sort of with policing as well. policing and education, which are so important to so many americans, the presidential impact, it's hard to come by. okay. so, let me ask you to go around very quickly before we go to our audience questions. i want you to talk about the clouds on the horizon for biden administration. things that could go wrong. john, we've mentioned that, we'll come back to you, you have some other thoughts, but start with bill with a specific question, bill. one of the things that was unique about the trump presidency is how he never tried to his base, really made
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little effort at expanding the base. he just played to his base all the time, and some people think very much to his detriment in the midterm elections. let me ask you. can biden expand his base? you began the sessions biden is where he is the day he was elected. can he expand his base? >> he's trying. if you look to the speech of joint session of congress that he delivered last week the first two-thirds of the speech was very much directed to working class and middle class americans and he was saying, in effect, here is what government can do for you if you give me the chance to lead. and juxtapose this to the fact
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that his approval along white voters without college degrees stands at 36%. the biden debt is that the class appeal can soften working class objections to the democratic party and to the biden presidency and those objections are not simply white working class as we saw during the election and we see now and so they result, many latinos are working class latinos also share some of the reservations about the democratic party's agenda. and to the working class opposition to democrats and to the biden presidency is less
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about economics than it is about culture and race. and if that's the case, then the program announced in the joint session will, if enacted have many beneficial results and may not have the kind of political payoff that the biden administration is holding for. >> john, you have laid out a scenario where the biden administration was-- had not yet come to grips with the actual operational, administrative side of the difficulties at the border. can they turn this around? can they make this issue go away? >> yeah, i think that the capacity is there, certainly the intention is there from the biden administration of putting the vice-president in charge of the point person on this issue, he can is both significant from an optics perspective, it elevates the issue within the white house and it also shows
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that there is going to be significant staff level attention in the white house and in the relevant agencies. i think the administration recognizes both that, this is a humanitarian issue, as i said earlier, matters to more than just latino voters, there are pro gr -- progressives, moderates, who want to see this crisis end in a quick and humanitarian way. so getting the administrative apparatus be built, staffed and moving is going to take time. as i said, it's not going to be solved in 100 days, but the president needs to talk more about his vision for immigration policy. he's talked about immigration here and there and talked about it in the speech before the joint session, but he hasn't laid out that type of vision and i think that given his approach to the presidency as being, you know, a consoler in
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chief when necessary and a grandfatherly significant and showing that type of compassion that he has demonstrated at other moments in his career is critically important to showing the american public both that he cares deeply about the issue and that his administration is working on this issue. but at the same time, and to extend the question a little bit. elaine, from your initial question about issues on the horizon. i think that immigration has been an issue on the horizon for decades. we're seeing it at a breaking point now largely because of what the previous administration did. i think one of the other sets of challenges that it's going to hit this administration maybe not this year, but in year two or three is something that camille touched on earlier, ongoing crises that have happened not just in the current environment, but camille was talking about the unemployment crisis. black americans having a higher
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unemployment rate than white americans, that's not unique to the pandemic. that is something that has been true essentially permanently through our history, and those types of ongoing crises. these types of ongoing inequalities, those types of ongoing channels are going to need to get addressed. our colleague writes about the housing crisis in the united states. very convincingly. this is something that has been ramped up during covid, but it's not something that started during covid. onhas talked about challenges in crises in education, those are not new to covid. what they look like, how they're manifesting are now, but these pre-date that current crisis and of course, racial justice is another. these are all issues that the president is dealing with a lot right now and has to deal with a lot in the context of the current environment, but also,
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these are things that have institutional reforms that need to happen so that we don't just get out of the problem that we're in, but we start to resolve the problems that we've been facing for decades. >> camille, add to that. what's on the horizon? >> well, i'm just going to -- i'm going to add to what has already been said as opposed to, you know, kind of repeating it, but i would say there are five sort of dark clouds on the horizon. one is sustainable economic growth and i think, you know, we've gotten a little bump, but now we've got to sustain that and i would say that very much depends on the infrastructure, what happens with the infrastructure bill or bills. policing on as john hudak mentioned, black unemployment and racial equity, racial equity more generally. the fourth and fifth are foreign policy issues, one is what's happening between iran
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and israel, i think, is going to be a foreign policy very delicate issue. and what happens with our relationship with china. >> and by the way, we haven't talked about foreign policy very much on this, but i would draw our viewer's attention to two fixed gov posts one by steve piper on biden's relationship with russia, which is very, very interesting, 180 degree turnaround and another by david dollar on biden's relationship with china. >> john and we'll end with molly and go to audience questions. john. what is on the horizon? >> the potential of dark clouds. if we split up politics and public opinion on one hand and policy on the other end, the two potential worry areas that come from the education side. one is if covid takes a turn and if we have a third school year disrupted, that's going to be on biden in lots of people's
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minds and that will be the case first if it's actually the product of a bad turn in the pandemic. it will also be the case if people start to think that it's really overreach when from the teachers unions and something else, and closed, and the biden administration is looked at as being cozy with teachers unions and public opinion side. the second coming up for a few years now and is coming up again in-- and i maybe think of this less from the politics side, but schools are getting wrapped up in culture wars, particularly as relates to transgender and it was about bathroom use and now it's participating in girls sports and everybody on the panel is better equipped to talk about the politics of that. i worry about the impact on transgender students. i'm not sure there's a more
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vulnerable group. that's a group by any measure, suicidal thoughts or bad measures, has it rough. so i would hope that that conversation was had with care and awareness that those messages are heard. those are kind of on the politics side and on the policy side, they have big ambitious plans as they relate to children and families and that's from early childhood all the way up through college. i think it's very, to be determined, where those go. even in the american family plan, within the democratic party, joe manchin had some thoughts and reservations about the universal pre-k and there's some sales to do just within the party on the message of what's to come with that, but i think it's very to see where that's going. >> molly, finally, and over the weekend "the washington post" had a little piece about how democratic requirements could
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even further jeopardize the democratic majority in congress. so, your thoughts on clouds on the horizon? >> yeah, so i tell you at that there's sort of a short-term cloud. i don't know exactly what the weather analogy is, and in sort-- in the near term there's a question of sort of are there the votes among democrats in congress for the next two pieces of the biden administration's plan, the jobs plan and the plan to help on american families whether they go together, whether they go separately, in what configuration. we spend a lot of time talking about how that can be done in the reconciliation process, subject to the filibuster, that isn't magic. if you don't have the agreement it doesn't matter much how you're trying to move it and that you're trying to move it through without the possibility
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of a filibuster. so that's a near term question. can they move something where-- without repealing the piece of the-- without resolving the state and local tax deduction issue, and something that bill has written a lot about. and are there the most for expansions for programs to help families, like they were talking about, and universal pre-k and near term. and longer to medium term, the mid term. it's may of 2021, but the mid terms of 2022 will be here before we know it and you mentioned some democratic requirement in congress. we recently, two weeks before got the new apportionment for congressional districts and there are some states that are losing seats, some states that are gaining seats and we'll be redrawing all of these lines
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and we know from american political history that as close a thing as we have to a law of american elections is that the president's party happened to lose seats in his first mid term, so that was, that structurally is not a great sign for democrats continuing with their majorities past 2022, particularly in the house, do they have a majority to begin with? and the senate is different to begin with because we have a particular set of maps that we're looking at and looks better for democrats than perhaps the house does, but that's sort of looming in the not so distant future so that brings us back to the question for however much the biden administration wants to work with congress, do they really need to try and get as much of that done as quickly as possible? because who knows what will happen after november 2022.
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>> okay. all right. well, we're going to turn to audience questions. please send in any questions that you have. #100days and the other is events at brookings.edu. we have a question at the news agency, i think it's mostly for bill. bill, is there a difference between how republicans and democrats are evaluating the 100 days? >> and i think-- >> in your first statement. >> just very quickly, democrats are almost unanimously supportive of and in many cases enthusiastic about joe biden's first 100 days. republicans take exactly the opposite view of the matter,
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they believe that he is -- that mr. biden is moving the country toward socialism, with american characteristics, but nonetheless, socialism. they disagree with him about economics. they disagree with him about culture and you have about one in 10 republicans who have a positive view of the first 100 days of the biden administration. so the polarization that characterized the election of 2020 is carrying over full strength into the early days of the biden administration. >> okay. related to that, okay? we have a question, and i'm going to elaborate on it a little bit from ray. who is actually wondering, is there a downside to all the money that biden's giving away? and particularly to the question of, you know, these
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$1400 checks. what is this going to do to us economically? is there a budget cost, something that, is it going to be paid for by the wealthier corporations? how is this going to affect our overall future? camille, why don't you take that. >> sure, i'm happy to do that. it's a great question. the question is essentially when people stop getting giveaways, so to speak, and realize that somebody is going to have to pay for additional investments in the economy, are they going to be as enthusiastic about the biden presidency and priorities? and so the question there really is how does the biden administration talk about and dd -- talk about the policies and actually showcase the
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outcome of those policies. so, it's increasingly clear that the biden administration is going to be able to have to bring over democrats who are more recalcitrant on the senate side by really talking about how they're going to pay for these next few legislative priorities so the american jobs act and the families act, and right now, they're talking about taxes on corporations and wealthy individual, people who earn more than $400,000 annually. but that's obviously just an opening gambit. so there's going to be a lot of negotiation around that. one thing we do know is that economists, particularly folks in our own tax policies, have said that we actually have a fair amount of fiscal room so we're not at a point where we have to do something extremely
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carefully about the cost of more investment versus the-- i mean, the costs and the benefits. so we're at a point now, if we do spend the money that the biden administration forsees that we spend and that we bring in some of that money, but not actual of it, we will still generate the kind of economic growth that will more than compensate for that fiscal investment. i think it's important for americans to understand that, but the sales job and the responsibilities for that sales job to the american public is actually what the biden administration has to really concern themselves with and then they also have to do -- they also have negotiations that they have to undertake with members of the senate. so that's kind of the-- that's sort of where we are on the economic picture. >> that's an interesting one from richard, for john.
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you'll like this, richard. if some big city districts turn out to be laggards on school reopening, is there some way that you see the administration pressuring them to move faster? >> thank you. and good question, richard. i want to pick up on something that camille was talking about. i think when we're thinking about costs on what the programs are, there's an interesting debate a long time in public policy circles and circles whether to offer programs in targeted ways, target, you can efficiently get access to the people who need the most and potentially there being some benefits politically of more universal programs. i think it's interesting that two of the big ticket items from the return rescue plan are both universal. that's universal pre-k and free community college and i'm curious about the politics of that.
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and a question about the school districts. the biden administration has been very clear on this, they think that schools should be open and they, i mean, i think just this week, miguel cardona the education secretary has been visiting schools that have been reluctant and suggest they move. and leaning on people to encourage them to open and offer guidance and research and those kinds to make it as easy as possible. yes, i think they're going to keep pushing. >> okay. let's see, we have one-- we have another one here from richard skinner, which is besides the border, how do you see vp harris' role developing in the biden administration? i've done a little bit of work on the vice-presidency so i'll talk about that. you know, modern vice-presidents have tended to get specific jobs given to them
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with chores, really, given to them from the president and increasingly, as we went into the modern era, these chores have been meaningful, unlike hubert humphrey who was asked by lyndon johnson to chair the american beauty and tourism, that was hubert humphrey's job not a top priority. and since then presidents have given their vice-presidents some pretty big tasks. this is the first one, the immigration is the first one. vp harris has got a tough job. nobody has really done this well before deal withing-- dealing with three countries, the northern triangle in terrible trouble, after all, that's why people, you know, get up on foot and leave their
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countries is things are pretty bad in those countries. so, we'll see what she can do there. this is a first big test. the other question will be, will she get some kind of ongoing job from the president? al gore had reinventing government and he had all of this, all of the climate change was in his baliwick and he has a relationship, as did cheney, basically the president said, you do it, this is yours and i won't second guess you. so it remains to be seen not just what jobs harris gets, but what kind of autonomy she has in those jobs. one of my old colleagues from the -- from the clinton gore administration tells the story of people on the telecommunications act, people always trying to run around al gore to go to bill clinton,
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only to be found out that bill clinton would say to them, ask al. and they thought they were doing the end run and they couldn't. so that's the one-two punch we want to look for with harris, not only what jobs does she get, but what kind of autonomy does she have if that administration to make policy and to see it enacted and that's a big -- that's a big one. let's see, anybody else want to talk about harris? new question? >> very quickly. >> yes. >> i find it interesting that her staff has been very careful to distinguish between the golden triangle assignment and immigration policy on a broader front. she has not visited the southern border. that is no accident.
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and i suspect that she and the people around her are not eager to have her outfront on what has been as john hudak has correctly argued, the most single difficult area for the biden administration thus far. and i think it will be interesting to see whether president biden comes to her and says, i know this is a tough one, kamala, but you've got to do this and if necessary, take a bullet for doing it. >> that's interesting, john, do you have any? >> on the point of what the vice-president's role might become or how it might develop in the administration, i think one of the things to look to is how much the president is seeking to groom her to be his successor. if the president opts only to
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serve one term or two terms, there will be an open primary in the democratic party and there are a lot of progressives who are skeptical of not just the president's progressive bona fides, but the vice-president's bona fides as well, given her record as attorney general of california and district attorney in san francisco. there's the potential for the president to say your biggest weakness in a primary will be from your left. go out and be the progressive voice of this administration and if that happens, she can be leading the charge on a lot of issues that maybe the successful-- maybe they fail because there's opposition in congress, maybe they fail because there is opposition within the democratic party, but if she can tamp down what will be an enormous race to run to her left in a democratic presidential primary, she can
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position herself well to be the next democratic nominee after biden chooses not to run or is term limited, or if that is not afforded to her, seeing whether she tries to carve out her own voice in that area could be one that then builds some tension between the president and the vice-president. obviously we're only 100 days in, but i think that the question richard asks about how her role develops is as important about the policies that she is focusing op, as it is about the next open presidential primary. >> good, i have just one thing, with unsmall piece to add, which is on a thing that i think some folks maybe thought the vice-president would be doing more of, but ultimately has not had to do much of, break ties in the senate so far, particularly on nominations. so will was when we ended up with a 50-50 split summit,
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there was a lot of sense that what particularly in these first couple months that the vice-president would actually have to send a lot of time and we had to break exactly one tie on a nomination vote which was not until about 10 days ago. that says something about the folks that the biden administration has been picking for senate confirmation so far and also the degree to which, you know, while republicans might in the senate might be sort of talking about some of these nominees, that at the end of the day, they're not ultimately necessarily going full bore ahead with obstruction, so it will be interesting to see the next couple of month whether that's something she has to spend more time doing, but to me it's notable she hasn't had to do too much of that. >> good. so for our final question,
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because we're almost out of time. i'm going to ask you it all very quickly. one of the pieces of conventional wisdom about this 100 days is that big government is back and people are making the comparison to bill clinton who famously said the era of big government is over and people are making the flip comparison and several of you, people are looking to the government for solutions and biden has jumped into this. is this permanent? is this going to be a permanent part of biden's legacy or is this going to be something that happened as a result of covid and once hopefully we're out of covid eventually, politics will go back to more skepticism about big government? why don't we go in the order that we started so i'll go to bill, molly, camille and the
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two johns. bill. >> nobody knows. and the acid test will come, as you suggested, when the air of emergency subsides. when covid is under control and when the economy has record back, which it almost certainly will do this year and next year because of pent up demand, you know, $2 trillion in excess savings in banks accounts. if there was ever a predictable economic surge, this is it. on the one hand, the american people have clearly signaled, at least if you look at public opinion polls that they are
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armor open to activist government than eight years ago, 16 years ago, et cetera. whether that's transient or permanent shift, nobody knows. i will say this, everything depends on how the government performs. if these policies are enacted and make people feel better about their lives. if the economy continues to grow, if while inflation stays under control, which is a crucial caveat and, you know, and everything seems to be reasonably stable and contained and sustainable, then these early moves by the biden administration could reinforce the sentiment that we're seeing right now. if the performance is not that, then i don't think that this current moment is going to last. >> molly, then camille?
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>> yes, i agree with bill, that no one really knows. i think in one sense we're kind of, we're two competing, big, broad trends in american public opinion to contend with here. one, there's a way in which public opinion operates like a thermostat that the government turns it in one way and the government reacts by having opinions in the other direction and the notion that we're ramping up government investment may have a consequence of people turning aside big government. at the same time peeve this notion that people are much more sensitive to losing things they already have than to get new things. if we get to the 2018 congressional elections and the
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campaign says that the administration and the congress wants to take away things that americans had gotten through the affordable care act expansion of access to health insurance. so that would suggest if we have an expansion of government services, and people like them, then they are going to be quite senitive that the people in congress is going to take them away. and i think we have a lot of reason to believe kind of where bill started, that we just don't have a strong sense where this might be going. >> camille. >>, yeah, i would agree with the fact that we don't know. here is what i think is going to be important. they will started off the-- they started off the association by the enormous polarization with voters. the government being viewed as important to improving the economy will be sustainable if
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white trump voters believe that government can work, and so, i think what that's going to mean is that white working class men are going to have to get jobs. i think that is sort of where we are. >> john. >> quickly, you know, paul has america's views how our government works and the key moving forward to convince americans that the biden approach is a right approach is for the president to have more balanced discussion of the role of government. i think the idea that americans support the view that the most terrifying words going are i'm
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from the government ab and i'm here to help. earns m don't like government except when they like big government. and essentially putting 300 million americans to be vaccinated against covid, but they don't want big government to solve every problem is the idea and there are proponents of this in congress and elsewhere, is that the government is there to solve our problems, should be discounted. that balanced view and camille touched on that powerfully, is the only way to convince people that a larger government will-- not a dominant government, is the best path moving forward. >> john, you get the last word. >> very quick. i agree with ill -- bill's point we're in the middle of things, we don't know where the crisis is going. the clock is ticking on this administration and mid terms are looming. the answer to whether or not we
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get big government policies and investments might come before we get an answer as to whether or not the attitudes toward government of changing. >> great, thank you very much, everyone, for joining us today. thank you bill and molly, camille, john and john, and everyone thank you so much for paying attention to brookings. there's lots of stuff on our website that elaborates on the themes that we've talked about today. thank you and have a nice day, everyone. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government, funded by these television companies and more including media com. >> the world changed in an incident, media com, internet tracking soared, schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality because at media com we're built ahead. media com supports c-span along
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