Moneybeat – Biden’s economic policies

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Joined now by financial analyst and advisor David Bahnsen.

DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning. Good to be with you.

EICHER: I was looking at a Wall Street Journal piece and being reminded that back in 2008 when the Obama-Biden team came into office, they faced some serious economic trouble. And so the task fell to Biden to get a stimulus bill past Congress. So fast-forward. 2021, here he comes—presumably—takes office in January with economic troubles, not fundamental economic troubles, but economic troubles nonetheless. So is there anything from history that would give us an indication how Joe Biden will operate in the next stimulus round? What do you think?

BAHNSEN: I think that the differences between 2008 and the COVID moment so far outweigh the similarities that it’s difficult to extract a feeling for what will end up being the case. I think the political challenge for president-elect Biden is going to be in this: the people that are exclusively hurting right now are in the category of people that are longtime constituents of the Democratic party. 

So, for him to continue the policies that are hurting the people he is setting out to go about providing economic relief for, there’s an incredible political risk here. Raise minimum wage right now, it could kill job creation for lower income people hurting in the COVID pandemic in the service economy. Further lockdowns, it could kill those lower income, lower skill workers who are suffering right now in the current environment. 

So, I think politically he has a tough needle to thread and I don’t think there’s a lot of similarities to what the Obama administration did in early 2009.

EICHER: The press corps authorized to ask questions of Joe Biden have asked zero questions to elicit information that would tell us anything about Biden’s COVID plans. I cut together a montage here—less than a minute—to help illustrate why the information flow is a little weak.

MONTAGE: How do you expect to be able to work with Republicans when so many have thus far refused to even acknowledge your victory? … Mr. President-elect … will you authorize legal action … or would that be too divisive, do you believe? Thank you, Mr. President-elect, and congratulations to you both. Have you tried to reach out at all to the president and, if he is watching right now, what would you say to him? ‘Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you.’ And … how will you move ahead if the president continues to refuse to concede? … Thank you, Mr. President-elect, do you plan to campaign in Georgia before your inauguration to help Democrats … and how important is a Democratic-held Senate to your agenda? … Sir, what do you say to the Americans that are anxious over the fact that President Trump has yet to concede and what that might mean for the country? … And just to follow up on a previous question, how do you expect to work with Republicans if they won’t even acknowledge you as president-elect? ‘They will. They will. Thank you all so very much. Thank you.’

This little press availability came the day after he named a committee, a COVID task force, and he’ll be naming others to it. When he announced it, he took no questions and why would he? But does it seem that he’s headed toward lockdown or am I reading it wrongly?

BAHNSEN: I don’t think you’re reading anything. I think that’s what the media’s reporting based on a person he puts on a committee who said something like that. Policy is not really formed by committee and I don’t mean to be crass or cynical here, but in my hope that he doesn’t go to more draconian lockdowns. It’s not because I’m giving him a lot of credit. It’s because I do think it would take him 10 minutes of political consultation to realize that would be a very bad idea for his introductory popularity into the White House. 

Now, here’s what I do suspect will happen, though. I believe that there will be—much like we’ve seen  in Europe the last couple weeks—posturing around greater draconian measures but that are mostly toothless. Saying we’re re-locking down but we’re keeping the schools open and the businesses open and the this open and the factories. That’s not a lockdown. So they can rename non-lockdown lockdown, but that’s really not quite the same thing, is it? I’m not overly optimistic that he won’t go there, but I’m not fatalistic about it either, Nick.

EICHER: What do you make of the vaccine news? It was right after we talked last week, that Pfizer made its COVID vaccine trial announcement.

BAHNSEN: Look, we did know that a vaccine was coming and we talked about it a lot and I think that most people that were putting politics and other conspiratorial things aside have known that at some point a vaccine would come. But there is real news around this that came last Monday, which was not just that a vaccine is now on the horizon. It is that the success rate is multiples of what it needed to be to be a successful vaccine. 

This is coming in at about 92 percent. That’s like measles level success. Well, when’s the last time you met somebody with measles? So I think that it’s not just that we’re getting a vaccine. It’s that we appear to be getting multiple vaccines at an exponentially higher perceived success rate. This is overwhelmingly good news for getting to that point where we leave this godawful COVID period in our rearview mirrors.

EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. Thank you.

BAHNSEN: Thanks for having me, Nick.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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