The Trump campaign is heading for free-fall, the point in the campaign where the worse it gets, the worse it gets. That’s when centrist Republicans and independents start heading for the exits, not wanting to be associated with a candidate who could be the biggest loser of all time in American presidential politics. Joe Biden’s lead in the polls is now up to 14 points across the country and 8 points in pivotal Wisconsin. And the gap is widening.
These are polling numbers and they are notoriously unreliable as to final outcomes. This time around, though, unlike 2016, Donald Trump is a known commodity. He has been in office 3 ½ years and center stage just about every day. For better or for worse, we have a pretty good fix on this complicated man.
Further, the election is a referendum on him and not so much on the issues he has championed — turning the clock back in immigration, on health care access, on global alliances like NATO, on free trade with China, Europe, Mexico and Canada. We know clearly what he is against.
What he is for is a shorter list: tax cuts, higher defense spending, conservative judges, higher deficits and national debt.
He inherited an economy that was rumbling along at a pretty good pace and added stimulus with deficit spending and the tax cuts. It worked until the pandemic torpedoed the happy times. No one, neither he nor Biden, has much of a clue on how to resuscitate the devastated economy.
The Federal Reserve, thankfully, has a semblance of a game plan: massive bailouts and ultra low interest rates. On a bipartisan basis, Congress pumped $3 trillion into the nation’s for-profit and non-profit corporations. Despite all that, the economy is still tanking.
Layoffs will accelerate this month with the end of the extra $600 per week jobless compensation. Federal funds only delayed the terminations. Companies go under if they carry more labor than needed for work volumes. And volumes are still way off.
Congress and the president can’t agree on a forward plan.
In that vacuum that starts in the Oval Office, there is a golden opportunity for Biden to start acting like the leader he soon will be come. He doesn’t need to be shanghaied any more by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The progressive presidential candidates all fell by the wayside. Bernie Sanders lost decisively.
He can keep the left-wingers in his camp by promoting their goals, but can also pick off the independents and defecting Republicans by voicing pragmatic ways to get to where most Americans want the country to be led. Here are some examples:
• Universal coverage for every American home. Dump Medicaid for All; it’s a 50-state managerial mess. Many doctors and dentists won’t take Medicaid patients. Adopt Medicare Advantage for All, not Medicare for All. Medicare Advantage offers a far better platform with choice, competition, better management and lower costs. Americans are voting with their feet for by flocking to that platform for coverage. Another no brainer: Add a money saving and health enhancing medical home for every American’s primary care. Savings are a proven 20% to 30%. Won’t that sell to voters across the board?
• Pragmatic Immigration reform. Yes, close our borders to illegal immigration, like most countries do. But keep the doors open to talented people. Give illegal kids born here citizenship. But limit adult illegals working here to Green Cards the rest of their lives. It’s a pragmatic compromise.
• Trade with other countries. Do what Warren Buffet proposed: allow increased exports to the U.S only to the extent that our trade partners allow more imports of U.S. goods and services.
• Support for entrepreneurs. Our economy has been battered by the shutdowns. We will have lost many employers before this scourge is over. We don’t even know how bad the damage has been. The fed’s bold action saved some of us. But we need the job creators to swing into action. It’s the entrepreneurs who create most new jobs. The Wisconsin program of 25% tax credits for angel investments has worked exceptionally well. Increase it to 40% and expand it across the nation. It will give new hope and life to many pending startups.
• Free college education. Cut a deal with the young people of America. We will pay for your education, but you need to pay it back with national service in needed sectors. That deal has worked superbly for generations with the GI bill and service in the National Guard. It’s working with AmeriCorps. How about health care and environment advancements as other options?
The time is right for Joe Biden to come out of his basement bunker. Instead of waiting for Trump to screw up some more, a likely prospect, as the president gets more and more desperate, get bold. Lead the nation to a pragmatic progressive platform that works to unite the country.
Go with concepts that have worked, not high-flying sound bites. Make the progressive ideas workable.