These increases occurred before a single dollar of Biden’s stimulus package found its way into Americans’ bank accounts. It follows that increased employment will naturally occur as more pandemic-based capacity controls end, and as more Americans are vaccinated and feel comfortable resuming their pre-pandemic lives. Biden’s $1,400 per-person checks may make those people likelier to spend more, but they won’t change the underlying employment dynamic. That was always being driven by government regulation and social fear. Instead, the new money will likely make Americans more willing to pay more for things they would have bought anyway. There’s a word for that: inflation.
This shines a new light on Biden’s proposed multi-trillion-dollar spending plan. If Congress passes the proposal without changes, it would add hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending per year for the foreseeable future. It would also direct much of that money to particular sectors, such as home care or projects associated with clean energy. That would surely increase demand for jobs in those sectors at a time when employment elsewhere will already likely approach pre-pandemic record highs as the crisis recedes. Where will the new workers come from?
Look south, my friend. If the U.S. economy is on turbochargers and wages are rising — whether as a result of inflationary pressures or government-mandated minimum wage hikes — taking the risk to move north will look even better for the impoverished millions in Central America. That coupled with Biden’s clear intent to relax or repeal most Trump-era immigration controls could produce a tidal wave of illegal immigration that makes this month’s record levels look like mere ripples in the water.
Every president wants to run on a record of peace and prosperity. No president wants to run on a record of rapidly rising prices and a humanitarian crisis of his own creation. Yet, in pursuit of the former, Biden may be stoking the latter.
Moderate and border-state Democrats should ring the alarm. Communities along the border will be the first to experience a spike in migration, and moderate Democrats will likely feel the brunt of any political backlash. If Biden is going to try to dial the economy up to 11, the least Democrats could do is try to ensure that the benefits mainly go to people already legally in the United States.
Republicans could also be getting handed a political gift. Americans want to be compassionate to people who come here in need, but they also want to provide for Americans first. The GOP should point out the inevitable consequence of Biden’s immigration policies and offer workable remedies. Mandating that employers use E-Verify, the federal government database that contains information for all people legally able to work in the country, is a bare minimum they can propose. Republican governors and legislators can also propose mandating this for employers in their states and harnessing state income tax agencies to monitor compliance. American jobs for American workers should become the GOP’s mantra.
Democrats openly yearning for Biden to be this generation’s Franklin D. Roosevelt should look before they leap. FDR inherited an economy in collapse due to a lack of money as banks failed and the Federal Reserve was shackled by the gold standard. It took nearly a decade of constant pump priming and intervention, including the military buildup preceding World War II, before the economy recovered. Today, the economy is flush with cash and recovering on its own. The historic stimulus and level of activity Democrats desire won’t go to refloat a sinking ship, and is likely to cause more problems than it solves.
For today, let us rejoice and be glad. For tomorrow, better to be cautious and prudent.