Commentary: Franklin Delano Biden?

Keith C. Burris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Political News

Our leaders have been talking about an infrastructure rebuild since 1992. Donald Trump promised to do it and might have had he been less distracted. The country has not spent on infrastructure, substantially, since the 1950s.

Another proposed trillion in spending is coming in a few weeks — this on health care, child care and education.

Biden learned three lessons from being vice president during the Obama presidency, two of them political and one philosophical.

First, go big, not small. That’s how you brand and build a presidency. This is consistent with the Roosevelt and Reagan experiences. (This is also what the historians, whom Biden has consulted, are telling him.)

Second, don’t wait for Republicans in Congress to put your program together. Seek support from voters of the other party. Take your case directly to the people. This is FDR and Reagan, too. (Biden should continue to do town halls and he should copy FDR’s fireside chats.)

But the third lesson is the biggest surprise and gamble: The president is a born-again Rooseveltian. He wants to be a new FDR, or Lyndon Johnson, before the Vietnam War undid the Great Society. He wants to “save” the little guys like his late father, and be remembered for this.


The president believes the public sector can and should stimulate the economy; can create jobs; and can allocate resources.

He believes that if the wealth gap is way out of whack, government can, to some degree at least, correct this.

He believes that if today’s young are generationally poor as the old were in Roosevelt’s time, this can be addressed through transfer payments.

All this, and more, is what he means by changing the paradigm.


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