This piece was first published in The Hill on May 10, 2021.
The U.S. will need to implement most of the $4 trillion in programs President Biden outlined on April 28 on top of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan if it is to compete successfully with an increasingly hardline China. Failing this, if China continues to grow three or four times faster than the U.S. while we go back to only 2-3 percent growth after a faster spurt in 2021, the U.S. could lose this competition as China’s Xi Jinping believes it will.
The programs Biden outlined on April 28 are big enough to get the U.S. out of the 2-3 percent rut if Republicans let them pass the Congress. Over the long term, they could transform the U.S. economy, taking it to a new 21st century level of shared wealth and modernity. This would not only improve the lives of the struggling American middle class, but give Americans renewed confidence in the ability of our democracy to withstand the challenge of Xi and other authoritarians. The question is: will the Republicans allow Biden to succeed?
The president expressed confidence in his speech on the 28. All Americans, Democrats and Republicans should hope he is right. Certainly, there were times in the 1950s and ’60s when people believed the Soviet Union would overtake us. Later in the 1970s and ’80s it looked like Japan would do the same. Then these challengers fell back. China in 2021 however is a more formidable competitor and it would be risky to assume that the U.S. can continue to pursue the “supply side” slow growth policies of the past decades while China fades as the Soviets and Japan did.
Biden is saying that the U.S. can succeed in this competition with China only with a better mix of governme