‘Era of small government is over’: Leading progressive grants Biden her blessing

Progressive columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel gave President Biden a stamp of approval Tuesday, boldly declaring that in the new administration, “the era of small government is over.” 

“Biden is essentially announcing that the Washington consensus — one that favors deregulation, austerity, and pro-corporate trade policies — is bankrupt,” vanden Heuvel wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. 

She pointed to a blizzard of executive orders Biden signed in his first days in office, many of which undid Trump administration actions.

Biden has signed 45 executive orders as of Tuesday, more than former Presidents Obama and Bush averaged in an entire year. The New York Times editorial board published a story last week headlined, “Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe.” 

“His boldness has surprised many progressives, naturally skeptical of the candidate who trumpeted his moderation and boasted of his opposition to Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal,” she continued. 

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Vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation, argued that less than two weeks into the job, Biden had proved he could be a “transformative,” not just “transitional.” Her approval is significant given the suspicion some on the left have had of Biden, an old-school Democratic pol who preached national unity and bipartisanship on the campaign trail.

She said his initiatives went beyond that of the Obama era. “At long last, a Democratic president is declaring that the era of small government is over.”

Vanden Heuvel pointed to Biden’s pricey packages for coronavirus relief, infrastructure, and climate.

She noted Biden’s hard stance pushing forward his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, arguing that the ten Republicans who gave Biden a $600 billion counter-offer have “no clue about the scale of economic distress Americans face.”

“As President Barack Obama came to understand only too late, attempts to compromise with obstructionists gain nothing,” she continued. 

Vanden Heuvel praised Biden for elevating climate change to a national security threat, for ensuring the federal government would buy only carbon-friendly vehicles, and for Biden’s “Buy American” promise. She said the slogan signaled to China they “will not get a pass from this president.”

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On racial justice, vanden Heuvel praised Biden’s executive actions to undo Trump’s “abuses,” including ending the use of federal private prisons and enforcing anti-discrimination laws. 

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“In his first 10 days, however, Biden has issued a clarion call for action commensurate with the crises we face,” vanden Heuvel wrote. “The establishment’s resistance to real change is entrenched, but Biden must reject its retrograde thinking if he wants to build on his early success.”