Not long after he signed the first annual budget of his administration, President Biden released the blueprint for the next year of spending.

As with any budget proposed by any president or governor, the final budget as passed (if anything is) will bear little resemblance to the initial idea, but it’s still worth taking a look at the proposal, if only because it reveals where the administration’s priorities lay.

Even at first glance, it becomes apparent that the White House is not exactly embracing the far left with this document. Although the budget would never be proposed by any Republican administration, it’s a relatively centrist document as far as Democrats go.

For instance, he made clear he does not endorse the “defund the police” movement. Instead, not only does federal law enforcement as a whole get more funding, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection do as well. That’s recognition of a simple political reality. Even if illegal border crossings and violent crimes weren’t on the rise, any attempt to reduce funding for those agencies would be a political nonstarter in such a closely divided Congress.

Indeed, passing such radical proposals, which aren’t embraced even by most Democrats, would be challenging even if the Democratic Party enjoyed an enormous majority on Capitol Hill. Simply proposing them could be political suicide. Still, it’s notable that Biden didn’t just duck the issue, he went in the opposite direction, risking drawing the ire of his base.

He does the same thing with defense spending, increasing it substantially rather than decreasing it after his bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan. He raises it overall and wants to raise it on something that many liberals would like to see eliminated entirely: nuclear weapons. This follows a pattern first set by his old boss, Barack Obama, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to fight nuclear proliferation, then turned around and spent more on nuclear weapons. This is entirely reasonable. While the elimination of nuclear weapons is a worthy goal, it’s hardly a move that the United States can make unilaterally: It would have to be the end result of years of tortuous negotiations with the other nuclear powers.


While it might seem that Biden is bucking his own party in these areas – and indeed he is, or at least the most radical elements of his base – his budget as a whole follows the overall liberal pattern of spend, spend, spend. Biden isn’t just increasing spending on programs liberals dislike, he’s increasing spending pretty much everywhere. That includes areas where there’s widespread support from his base, like the environment, criminal justice reform and student loan debt. He may be falling short of what liberals might hope to achieve, but at least he’s embracing the tried-and-true progressive solution of simply throwing money at the problem.

Rather than paying for all of this increased spending through structural reforms or reductions in other areas, Biden is proposing paying for it with another tried-and-true liberal method: a tax increase. Since the tax hike is targeted at the wealthiest Americans, Biden will be able to at least claim with a straight face that it’s simply an attempt to get the rich to “pay their fair share.” This is where his budget will no doubt delight his base, as liberals are always eager to both raise taxes and punish the wealthiest, most successful Americans.

Now, it would be easy to presume that, by rejecting the most radical liberal proposals and increasing spending in some areas where they’d do the same, Biden’s proposal puts Washington Republicans in quite the bind. If they’re smart, though, Republicans will argue that, if they were in charge, they’d not only fight inflation and increase spending on defense and law enforcement but also cut spending in another areas rather than raising taxes on anyone.

To do that, they might actually have to remember what cutting spending is, since it hasn’t exactly been a staple of Washington fiscal policy as of late, but it’s not impossible. Biden’s budget isn’t really moderate, nor is it innovative: rather than bravely tackling real problems with controversial solutions, he’s proposing throwing money around and paying for it by raising taxes on the rich. That’s been the typical liberal solution for decades. The real question is whether Republicans will be smart and brave enough to actually counter it with substantive proposals of their own, rather than just complaining.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
Twitter: @jimfossel

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