Election 2024 /

WSJ: Joe Biden’s 2024 Election Bribes The president is using the U.S. Treasury like a 1920s party boss’s safe.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Boss Biden and the U.S. Treasury.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, columnist Daniel Henninger headlines: Opinion | Joe Biden’s 2024 Election Bribes

Opinion | Joe Biden’s 2024 Election Bribes

Daniel Henninger

The president is using the U.S. Treasury like a 1920s party boss’s safe.

Joe Biden’s 2024 Election Bribes

The president is using the U.S. Treasury like a 1920s party boss’s safe.

Henninger writes:
Joe Biden is fond of spinning yarns from his early political days in Delaware, so he knows the fine American tradition of doling out “walking-around money” to drive turnout. Then there’s the related Democratic Party tradition known as spend and elect. Mr. Biden, a self-avowed traditionalist, surely sees nothing odd in campaigning for the U.S. presidency by handing out money.

Nor, as a traditionalist, do I. But has election politics ever seen spending on such a massive scale for the sole purpose of producing votes? Let’s depart from the cuddlier labels for this phenomenon and call it what it is: Biden’s bribes. Mr. Biden is using the U.S. Treasury the way a 1920s party boss would use the safe behind his desk.

Most polls have indicated for months that the 81-year-old president’s support among younger voters is soft. Worse, their turnout is relatively poor in most elections.

Voilà, the Biden student-loan debt-forgiveness plan. Questions of moral hazard aside, one may argue that with more than 40 million Americans owing about $1.7 trillion in federal and private student loans, some measure of forgiveness could be defended by a Democratic president.

But the Biden proposal tripped the what-the-heck-is-going-on alarm. It totaled $430 billion in write-offs for about 30 million borrowers. No surprise, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Biden overstepped his presidential spending authority.Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the administration’s description of the plan as a “modification” was true “only in the same sense that the French Revolution ‘modified’ the status of the French nobility.”

But with the political stakes so high, the administration came up with a bureaucratic workaround to continue the loan relief. Polls since haven’t shown much gain for Mr. Biden with young voters. One reason, ironically, may be the administration’s botched handling of Fafsa, the federal application to get a student loan.

With the college gambit failing, the Biden team offered younger voters a more potent bribe. On May 16, the Justice Department proposed reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III drug. Effectively, this means national legalization is coming.

The Democrats’ defense of legalization has been that the drug laws got too many young black men arrested for possession or small sales of marijuana. So much for that pitch: An April Wall Street Journal poll showed support forDonald Trump among black men at 30%, up from 12% in a 2020 Associated Press poll.

What must be more maddening to the White House is the scant political benefit from the multitrillions in spending—sorry, “investments”—it spread across the country through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Chips Act and the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act. The last alone committed nearly $400 billion in subsidies and tax credits for renewable-energy projects and electric vehicles. In all, the Biden handouts run to about $1.6 trillion. 

Much of this is intended to unlock private spending to “create” jobs. I’d still call it election bribery on a never-seen scale. Many of the green-energy projects—EV sales, charging stations, offshore wind farms—would be dormant absent federal pulleys. Lately, Mr. Biden’s days seem to be filled with Air Force One trips to projects, plant openings and jobs conjured out of this spending.  

Politico recently estimated that only 17% of these laws’ $1.1 trillion in direct investment has actually been spent. The White House’s political shop must have expected a better media-announcement effect from what until lately it called Bidenomics. But there hasn’t been much beyond maybe an endorsement from the United Auto Workers’ leftwing president, Shawn Fain.

Inside Biden’s trillion-dollar cash dash


Again, there’s nothing unusual about a Democratic spend-and-elect strategy. But as practiced even a century ago by urban political machines, winning required a theoretically electable candidate. From the start, when Mr. Biden’s personal liabilities already were apparent, this White House has focused less on touting his leadership than on funneling financial benefits to the re-election base.

That’s a lot of political funding failure. What happened? The corrosive effect of inflation is the short answer. But voters in many polls also cite the economy as their top priority. The more interesting long-term explanation may be that most of the public, including more minority voters, no longer consider federal handouts an adequate substitute for the real economy, which produces paychecks and a durable personal dignity.

Team Biden seems to have shifted to Plan D: Make the entire election about “Trump” and MAGA extremism’s threat to democracy. So far, the trillions spent on anti-Trump TV ads haven’t boosted Mr. Biden’s polling.

This election looks like it’s going to be overwhelmingly about the economy. If so, what is the Biden economic argument against Mr. Trump, other than his repeated delusion that he inherited 9% inflation from the former president?

Both candidates have embraced high tariffs. Beyond that, Mr. Biden’s pitch on the economy is that unparalleled public spending ensures growth. Mr. Trump’s is that the common goal of his policies will be to liberate the private economy. For most voters, the choice could be as simple as that.”

An old fashioned “tax and spend” Democrat, this is what Biden knows. So he will keep on spending for votes.