If there is anything we must learn from the Great Depression and FDR’s New Deal, it is that throwing policy at a wall to see what “sticks” is never a good idea. This is especially true when those policies involve trillions of dollars.
When FDR put forth his plan to save the nation, the problem in his approach was that policy did not have an indicated, narrowly defined purpose and cost the nation greatly. Coming out of the Covid pandemic, we are facing a similar situation with Biden’s Build Back Better strategy, which would ultimately cost $3.5 trillion despite the president’s insistence that it will cost nothing. Biden believes this because his assumption is that the money will be returned when we “invest in America” in areas such as climate and providing a social safety net for families and small businesses. The irony is that some in his own party do not agree as such a bill will likely add to the already daunting inflation rate.
The reality is that virtually none of the solutions that Biden offers in this strategy is actually free. A study from the University of Pennsylvania confirms this. In fact, the national debt is said to increase by 25 percent over 30 years if Biden’s plan comes into effect.
Mississippi should not follow suit in this approach of governance. As tempting as it is just to throw money or ideas at the wall to try to fix a problem. Good policy must have a specific purpose and not operate on assumptions that “we will just make our money back.” That may be a byproduct, but it is a substantial risk that taxpayers often cannot afford if it falls through. Prudence is key.
This is why the narrative that the government is going to “invest in America” is so dangerous. For one, the government is not an investor as if it has generated its own money. The government only has money because the people have been forced to give it money. The second problem is that “investing in America” is so vague and broad that it boils down to just flowery rhetoric, yet it is treated as some profound justification for large spending. This was FDR’s strategy and it ultimately led to several lawsuits in which the Supreme Court granted relief and put back the nation several years back in recovering from the Great Depression.
Throwing money at a wall to see what sticks might help if you have unlimited resources and no consequences; however, neither President Biden nor the Mississippi government has this luxury. If effective and positive change is to occur, we must depart from this “investing in America” narrative and support the American economy by making government smaller, not bigger.