President Joe Biden is addressing a joint session of Congress this evening, and experts from The Heritage Foundation are weighing in. Here’s what they have to say.

>>> The Daily Signal is the multimedia news and commentary outlet of The Heritage Foundation.



Biden’s speech began with a discussion of the so-called infrastructure package the administration released several weeks ago, which is based on outdated and long-repudiated ideas of having the federal government centrally plan the economy.

From the speech: “These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make.”

Here, Biden is falsely saying that only governments create transformative investments. The value of private infrastructure—such as buildings, utilities, and production hardware—far exceeds the value of public infrastructure. That private infrastructure investment has in turn created far more jobs and value for American families than government spending ever could.

Private investments have made America the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Unfortunately, Biden’s tax-and-spend agenda would kneecap the post-pandemic recovery by putting bureaucrats ahead of businesses when it comes to deciding how and where to invest.

From the speech: “The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good-paying jobs.”

On the contrary, the plan would destroy good-paying jobs by taking trillions of dollars from the economy with tax hikes. It would remove incentives for businesses and investors to take risks in hiring workers and starting or expanding operations. Instead of letting businesses respond to consumer demand and create value for everyone, the Biden agenda would respond to left-wing political demands and create value only for narrow interest groups.

The federal government has tried the tax-and-spend approach to job creation many times, and the results have always been dismal. Most recently, the stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama in 2009 utterly failed to create the number of promised “shovel-ready jobs” due to fundamental flaws of red tape and choosing the wrong priorities.

The Biden plan doubles down on these flaws, which would dramatically reduce the value of the spending he proposes. And since every dollar the government spends must be taken from the private economy, those bad investments would leave us poorer as a result. Congress must reject this approach.

-David Ditch is a research associate at the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Economic Policies

“Unions built the middle class.”  Unions played an important historical role in helping workers achieve safety protections and just compensation, but unions did not build the middle class and their failure to update their model beyond the 1950s industrial is the source of their increasing irrelevance. The fact that only 6% of private sector workers belong to labor unions—and that even among union members, fully 94% never actually voted in favor of a union—is evidence that unions aren’t providing services that workers value.

The good middle-class union jobs that the president refers to were—at least in part—unsustainable allusions. For starters, unions driving compensation to uncompetitive levels dragged down entire industries such as U.S. automaking, which is now only one-third the level it was three decades ago.

And unions’ allegedly secure pension benefits now look more like Ponzi schemes as union pensions set aside only 42 cents for every dollar in promised benefits and accumulated $673 billion in unfunded pension promises.

Were it not for taxpayers already being forced to bail out over $90 billion of unions’ broken pension promises, millions of union members would be on course to receive mere pennies on the dollar in promised pension benefits.

Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic.”  It appears the president may have mixed up men’s and women’s labor force participation levels. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of men in the labor force declined by 2 million between February 2020 and March 2021 while the number of women in the labor force declined by a slightly smaller 1.9 million. Easing lockdowns and reopening schools—not permanent new government child care and pre-K programs—was the solution to reversing disproportionate employment losses for women.

“Pay your fair share.” Biden should begin by paying his own fair share, including more than $500,000 worth of Medicare and Obamacare taxes that the Bidens avoided by attributing $13.3 million in income from speaking fees and book royalties as profits to their S-corporation instead of income.

“Trickle down economics has never worked.” The president claimed that corporate executives reaped all the benefits of the tax cuts, rather than passing them onto workers. In addition to large income gains, including the largest gains for the lowest 10th percentile of workers, companies used the resources from the tax cuts to provide an unprecedented increase in paid family and medical leave benefits.

Over just four years, from 2016 to 2020, the percentage of companies offering paid parental leave more than doubled (to 55% offering paid maternity leave and 45% providing paid paternity leave.

“The American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care.” The best thing the government could do to lower child care costs is eliminate unnecessary child care regulations and invite more small family providers into the market. The president’s plan does the opposite. By adding costly new regulations that will make it harder for smaller and more flexible providers to exist, the president’s plan will drive up the cost of child care and further limit its supply.

Forcing workers and families—including families that choose to have one parent stay home with children—to pay for other families’ child care costs is not only unfair, but redistribution is not the same as reducing costs.

Policymakers should not place more value on wages parents earn, the taxes they pay, and their contribution to gross domestic product than on their contribution to raising children. There is huge value to parents staying home to raise children as well as unintended consequences of government programs that try to push all parents into the workforce.

One such example is Quebec’s $5-a-day government child care program, which did increase young mother’s labor force participation by 14.5%, but also resulted in researchers finding “striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to moto-social skills to illness.

Our analysis also suggests that the new child care program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships. Teens exposed to the program also had significantly higher rates of crime and anxiety, and lower levels of health and life satisfaction.

Rachel Greszler is a research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, of the Institute for Economic Freedom


Critical Race Theory and Identity Politics

Biden mentioned the word “equity” twice in his address and the term “systemic racism” also twice. In a speech that was over 6,000 words, given how Biden started his presidency three months ago, this is something of a victory.

We don’t know what internal polls are telling the White House, but for an administration that has promoted critical race theory since Day One, these meager mentions may signal something of a retreat.

In his first act in office, on the day of his inauguration, Biden signed his “Executive ­Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” It called for “an ­ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda” that smacked of a Great Society for identity politics.

In that first order, the word “equity” appeared 21 times, while that old American mainstay of “equality” didn’t even rate one mention. In his joint address to Congress, however, Biden mentioned equality once, but not in the way Americans understand the term. It was to plug the “Equality Act,” which The Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, said, “placed feelings at the center of academia, displacing empirical knowledge.”

Kao says the act would mean “the triumph of cancel culture over facts, reason, and empirical knowledge.”

As we have explained, equity has now come to mean the functional opposite of equality. The latter means equal treatment to all citizens, such as the Constitution calls for in the clause of the 14th Amendment that deals with equal protection of laws. Equity means treating Americans unequally to ensure that outcomes are equalized—the old tried (and failed) Marxist standard.

Meanwhile, systemic racism is the lynchpin of the critical race theory ideology that believes that racism is so structural and institutional in our society that, to remove it from our lives, we must radically alter all structures, institutions, and the American system itself. According to this ideology, parents and children must depend on federal programs like his American Families Plan to succeed because families cannot reach the American dream on their own.

This breathtakingly presumptive idea implies that individuals and community members from ethnic minority backgrounds are not capable of reaching their goals.

Americans do not want this taught to children. A nationally representative survey finds that 70% of parents of school-aged children want educators to teach that “slavery was a tragedy that harmed the nation, but our freedom and prosperity represent who we are as a nation, offering a beacon to those wanting to immigrate here.”

Biden’s verbal acknowledgement of “systemic racism” in his address introduces the American public to critical race theory’s patronizing dogma. Americans who do not want to replay the sacrifices that were necessary to remove racism from American law and cultural institutions must understand that “systemic racism” and its underlying philosophy will revert this nation back to a time where people were not judged by the content of their character but by the color of their skin. No American should want to return to such an era.

That it was mentioned but twice may mean that the Biden administration may be beginning to understand how unpopular this agenda will be.

-Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy and the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow, and Jonathan Butcher is the Will Skillman fellow in education at the Center for Education Policy

‘Free’ Community College and Massive New College Subsidies

Biden pitched unprecedented new higher education subsidies, particularly in the community college realm. The administration’s American Families Plan includes an unprecedented $109 billion proposal to finance two years of “free” community college, available to first-time students and “workers wanting to reskill.” 

Yet, just 20% of students who begin community college each year complete their program within 150% of the standard time, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Even after factoring in transfers to four-year colleges, the completion stands at just 34% for community college students. 

The proposal seeks to improve these statistics by sending an additional $62 billion to community colleges to increase retention and completion. After decades of lackluster outcomes, more federal spending is unlikely to improve performance. 

The plan would also spend more than $80 billion on the federal Pell Grant program (nearly tripling spending, which currently stands at $29 billion). This would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $1,400 per student, from $6,495 to $7,895. (Pell Grants are grants to income-eligible students to offset the cost of tuition and do not have to be repaid.) 

It would also spend $46 billion in additional funding on historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions. 

Through all of the proposed higher education subsidies, from “free” community college to increases in Pell funding, the Biden administration is pursuing initiatives that would subsidize rising costs, rather than pursuing policies that would actually address the driver of college cost increases. 

-Lindsey M. Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy and the Mark A. Kolokotrones Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation

Universal Preschool

Biden announced his push for “free” universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old children. In addition to being an massive federal expenditure that is not the appropriate role of Washington, the rigorous research suggests universal preschool programs do not live up to the promises often made by proponents.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, for example, who evaluated Tennessee’s oft-referenced “model” pre-K program for low-income children found that the program failed to produce any sustained benefits for children and actually had some negative effects.

As the authors of this rigorous randomized control trial evaluation found, “First grade teachers rated the TN-VPK children as less well prepared for school, having poorer work skills in the classrooms, and feeling more negative about school. It is notable that these ratings preceded the downward achievement trend we found for VPK children in second and third grades.”

Indeed, the Biden plan, through structure and delivery, is more likely to resemble—and indeed, bolster—the failing Head Start program, a Lyndon Johnson-era relic that is likely the closest analog to any new or expanded federal preschool program.

In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services released a scientifically rigorous evaluation of Head Start, tracking 5,000 3- and 4-year-old children through the end of third grade. It found that the program had little to no impact on parenting practices. Additionally, it did not have much impact on the cognitive, social-emotional, and health outcomes of participants. 

Instead of spending billions in taxpayer money at ineffective federal programs like universal preschool, parents should be empowered with more options for child care and education through portability of existing dollars.

-Lindsey M. Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy and the Mark A. Kolokotrones Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation

Foreign Policy


In his speech, Biden referenced the U.S.’ recent sanctioning of Russia for its election interference and cyber hacking of SolarWinds. He rightly said that this was a “direct and proportionate” way to respond.

However, his administration should have also imposed sanctions on Russia for committing human rights abuses against Alexei Navalny, especially since human rights are supposedly a priority of the administration. 

Biden also mentioned that Russia and the U.S. should cooperate “when it’s in our mutual interests.” But that’s just the problem—as long as Vladimir Putin is in charge, the U.S. cannot have a viable partnership with Russia because Putin has proven that he cannot be trusted, time and time again.

-Alexis Mrachek is a research associate focusing on Russia and Eurasia at the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Health Care

Expanding Obamacare

The president called on Congress to expand Obamacare permanently, suggesting it would help lower the costs American families face. As Heritage scholars Ed Haislmaier and Abigail Slagle demonstrate, Obamacare’s costs have doubled thanks to government mandates and other problems.

Pouring more taxpayer money only puts Band-Aids on a broken government program. That is not the right way to lower health costs.

Rather than improve America’s health care, Biden’s plan expands government control of the health care system. His proposals don’t address American’s top health care concerns of reducing health care costs, improving coverage options, and expanding access to quality health care. 

The American Families Plan would put even more bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. And it would give more money to insurance companies in ways that decrease choices, increase costs, and offer limited access to doctors (as Obamacare currently does).

We need real reforms that remove barriers between patients and doctors. Congress could start by replacing failed government health care programs with one that sends dollars to individuals so they can buy health coverage of their choice, eliminating cost-increasing federal mandates, and directing funds to the states to help the sick.

-Marie Fishpaw is the director of domestic policy studies

Biden called for Congress to save women’s lives by passing legislation known as the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. However, rather than protecting women, this measure only would harm women–especially those who already have experienced abuse.

As currently written, the bill would require women’s shelters to take in biological males who identify as women or be faced with charges of discrimination. The problem isn’t with those who genuinely identify as transgender. The problem is that the bill would allow predators to take advantage of the law.

Shelters and domestic abuse recovery services help women get away from abusers; this bill would embolden male predators to prey upon women in these shelters, since they could gain access simply by saying they identify as women.

The bill touted by the president also would require female-only prisons and correction facilities to admit biological males who identify as women. In Illinois and Washington state, incarcerated women have reported incidents of sexual assault by biological males they have been forced to live with as a result of similar kinds of state policies.

If passed, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would mean more incidents of sexual assault for some of the most troubled and abused women in our nation.

-Jared Eckert is a research assistant in Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society

Price Controls on Pharmaceuticals

Biden tonight called on Congress to impose price controls on prescription drugs. Democrats’ price control bill, HR 3, would direct the secretary of health and human services to establish a “maximum fair price” for drugs based on prices set by foreign governments.

The secretary would then attempt to negotiate that price down with the product’s manufacturer. This negotiated price would be imposed on all drugs. Failure to negotiate would subject manufacturers to confiscatory tax penalties.

That’s the wrong direction for America’s families, who will be hurt by this proposal. A December 2019 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that price controls of this nature would result in 100 fewer new drugs coming to market over the next decade. It would also reduce economic output by $1 trillion, 30 times the federal savings that price controls might deliver.

To understand the impact of lost innovation, imagine our society if pharmaceutical companies had not developed COVID-19 vaccines. Unlike lockdowns, mask mandates, and extended school closures, those vaccines have dramatically reduced pandemic-related hospitalizations and deaths.

Pharmaceutical companies were able to develop the vaccines in record time because they were willing to invest in years of experimentation that did not yield immediate results.

Congress should not adopt proposals that will reduce pharmaceutical research and development. For more on what Congress should do instead, read: “How Congress Can Make Real Progress on Prescription Drug Prices” and “Pharmeceutical Innovation is Winning the War on COVID-19; Biden Shouldn’t Disarm.”

-Doug Badger is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation


How to encourage Americans to get vaccinated? Educate, not indoctrinate, as Doug Badger and Ed Haislmaier outline in their op-ed “What It Took for a Group of Republicans to Overcome Their Vaccine Hesitancy.”

-Marguerite Bowling is a senior communications manager at the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity


Gun Control

Biden called for stricter gun control by touting some of the same mischaracterizations of the issue that gun control activists have used for years to muddy the waters of national debate. This was, of course, not unexpected. What was unusual was the president’s planned use of objectively false statements—statements that can already fairly be characterized as lies.

He began by asserting that “gun violence has become an epidemic in America,” which is odd description, given that gun homicide and gun crime rates remain far lower today than in the early 1990s.

While there is certainly more work than can and should be done to continue reducing rates of gun violence (especially gun suicides, which account for about 60% of gun deaths every year), it’s difficult to see how the nation is experiencing an epidemic based on the actual data.

The president also supported his push for a ban on so-called assault weapons by claiming that gun violence rates declined during the 1990s when the ban was in place. Gun violence certainly did decline significantly during the 1990s, as did overall violence. But it had absolutely nothing to do with a decade-long ban on the purchase of so-called assault weapons.

In fact, the official report on the ban noted that these weapons “were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban,” and that “should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

It’s little wonder that gun homicide and gun crime rates have remained consistently lower after the ban expired than before the ban was put into place, despite the facts that millions of Americans have purchased these guns in the last 15 years.

There are mischaracterizations, and then there are lies. Biden lied when he said high-capacity magazines enable semi-automatic firearms to fire 100 rounds in mere “seconds.” Semi-automatic firearms, unlike their fully automatic counterparts, have a rate of fire between 45 and 65 rounds per minute.

On top of this, the president lied when he said the majority of gun owners support bans on “assault weapons”—and it isn’t the first time he’s been caught telling this lie.

Biden is correct that there’s much more we can do to address gun violence in this country. But until he and other politicians put aside the blatant mischaracterizations and falsehoods, it’s unlikely that the national conversation progresses.

-Amy Swearer is a legal fellow at the Institute for Constitutional Government

Election Reform

Biden apparently didn’t realize the contradiction inherent in what he said about voting and elections in his speech tonight.

He urged Congress to pass HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, two bills that would lead to a federal takeover of the election process, destroy the integrity and security of our elections, and give partisan federal bureaucrats and the party in power in Washington, D.C., the ability to manipulate election results.  

Yet, he admitted that “more people voted in the last presidential election than ever before in our history—in the middle of one of the worst pandemics ever.” If that is true, why is there any need for any federal legislation at all? That record turnout demonstrates that Americans are having no problems registering and voting, contrary to the false claims of “voter suppression” being made by the sponsors of these two unwise, dangerous bills. 

The president said at the beginning of his speech that he would be talking about “crisis and opportunity.” When it comes to our elections and the two ill-advised bills he is supporting, it is clear that Democrats want to manufacture a nonexistent “crisis” about voting in the eyes of the public, which will give fraudsters a greater “opportunity” to cheat when it comes to our elections.

– Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative and senior legal fellow at the Institute for Constitutional Government

The Equality Act, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and the Violence Against Women Act

In her invitation to the president to address the joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gushed, “Nearly 100 days ago, when you took the oath of office, you pledged in a spirit of great hope that ‘Help is on the way.’ Now, because of your historic and transformative leadership, help is here!”

But during his national address, Biden made clear that the kind of help he is offering isn’t intended for women, children, or the religiously faithful, regardless of how his proffered “American Families Plan” is titled. As a candidate, Biden had declared during his campaign, “Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time,” making passage of the Equality Act within the first 100 days of his presidency a pledge to Americans.

Tonight, Biden reiterated his prior promises on the Equality Act, which, after passing the House in a vote of 224-206 in March, is stalled in the upper chamber and lacks bipartisan support due to its many failings.

Biden urged, “I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans,” adding, “To all the transgender Americans watching at home—especially the young people who are so brave—I want you to know that your president has your back.”

But the Equality Act is not about equality. It not only decimates religious liberty in a first-of-its-kind open repudiation of the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and represents one’s subjective view of their gender identity as equivalent to biological reality. It is a Trojan horse for the abortion lobby, while threatening to nationalize sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum regardless of religious objections.

If ever there has been a perfect progressive weapon on Capitol Hill, the Equality Act is it.

Biden also thanked the Senate “for voting 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from … vicious hate crimes,” though the bill contained head-scratching provisions on sexual orientation and gender identity and duplicates state and federal protections already on the books.  

He called for reauthorization of the “Violence Against Women Act, which has been law in this country for 27 years” since Biden first wrote it. If only that law was now as it was when Biden wrote it. But its current iteration not only makes vast increases in gun control provisions for misdemeanor offenses, it—like the Equality Act and COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act—places the new sexual orthodoxy at the heart of an otherwise bipartisan bill.

This trio of bad bills would result in loss of many of the legal protections women have under current federal law, would crush their opportunities in scholastic sport, would eliminate privacy in intimate spaces, and would risk the safety and security of women in prisons, domestic abuse shelters, and more.

Biden’s remarks tonight mirrored the stylings of his big-government model, perhaps in an effort to channel Presidents Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson. A chief difference, however, is that his big-government administration plays sexual politics in a way Roosevelt or Johnson would never have dreamed.  

-Sarah Parshall Perry is a legal fellow at the Institute for Constitutional Government

Legal Reform

Tonight, Biden outlined an aggressive agenda, much of which will be impossible to achieve democratically with a closely divided House and an evenly divided Senate that is, at least for now, committed to preserving the filibuster. How then will he achieve this agenda? By turning to the administrative state to achieve by bureaucratic diktat what he cannot achieve through the democratic process.

Biden has issued far more executive orders and memoranda in his first 100 days than any president in the nation’s history. These have been sweeping actions that will require the administrative state to effectively rewrite scores of laws.

For example, Biden has ordered every administrative agency in the country to rewrite all laws under their purview that forbid discrimination “on the basis of sex” so that the laws also apply to transgender status and sexual preference.

He has also ordered a halt to a program that leases land to natural gas and oil drillers even though the program is required by law.

And he has directed all branches of the government to give racial minorities special treatment in many areas, including COVID-19 relief, environmental policies, housing, and all other areas where the government might advance an “equity agenda” to remedy “systemic racism.” This is just a smokescreen for government mandated racial inequality, which is forbidden by law.

No matter; who needs laws when you have an administrative state?

The good news is people who care about the rule of law can fight back. The Supreme Court has taken a few steps toward reining in the a vast and undemocratic administrative state.

Moreover, two recent decisions by the Supreme Court that were intended to trip-up President Donald Trump’s agenda will apply with equal force to trip-up Biden’s.

In Department of Homeland Security v. Regents and Department of Commerce v. New York, the Supreme Court prohibited Trump’s administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and from adding a citizenship question to the census. 

The court reached those outcomes by significantly increasing the amount of work an agency must do to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act (a law that lays out the requirements agencies must meet before they can do almost anything).

The cases were not well-reasoned or consistent with prior law; Justice Clarence Thomas called them “administration specific.” But the lower courts are bound by them, nonetheless. That means that unless the Supreme Court changes them, their heightened requirements apply to Biden just as much as they did to Trump. 

Lawyers and litigants should make full use of those cases to gum-up the works of Biden’s administrative juggernaut.

-GianCarlo Canaparo is a legal fellow at the Institute for Constitutional Government

Police Reform

Police reform in the United States has become a contentious topic recently, with little agreement on the best path forward.

Unfortunately, Biden did not help matters with his endorsement of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act during his speech

As I have previously written, the act, which passed the House of Representatives in March along a party-line vote, would make it more difficult and dangerous for police officers to do their jobs.

Imagine a Ferguson Effect on steroids at a time when our nation can least afford it because violent crime rates—especially the homicide rates—in some cities are soaring.    

Biden said, “We need to work together to find a consensus” on this issue because the “country supports this reform.”

That may be true for pieces of the bill, but certainly not for all of it.

If Biden is serious about working together, he should encourage passage of the noncontroversial aspects of the bill, divorced from the more controversial aspects, so that immediate action can be taken. 

These uncontroversial aspects include the bill’s requirement that the attorney general establish a national task force on law enforcement oversight staffed by various Justice Department officials, a push for uniformed officers to wear body cameras, and for marked police cruisers to be equipped with dashboard cameras. 

He could likely also garner broad bipartisan support for the bill’s provision that would make it a federal crime for a law enforcement officer to engage in sexual contact with someone in his or her custody.

But he should urge supporters of the bill to abandon the piece of it that would force police departments to consider an individual’s protected characteristics, such as race or gender, when engaging in many routine law enforcement activities—which would be in plain contravention of the bill’s goal of ending racial profiling.

He should also take pains to make sure that law enforcement officers aren’t deprived of crucial tools used for their own safety.

As my colleague John Malcolm has written, “It is often the police who suffer the greatest backlash, both in threats to their own physical safety and in growing distrust from some in the communities they are sworn to serve and protect,” whenever tragic events such as George Floyd’s death occur.

This bill would not enhance officer safety nor would it help repair the growing distrust from some in the communities they serve.

-Zack Smith is legal fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Systematic Racism in the Criminal Justice System

Twice during his speech, Biden referred to “systematic racism” in our criminal justice system. That is a canard. 

Did the president identify what constitutes “systemic racism”? No, he did not—and he has not done so throughout his time on the campaign trail or his time in office. 

Biden repeats the phrase “systemic racism” incessantly without backing it up. He does not sound like a man who is looking out for all Americans, black and white, especially when they are victims of a crime.

What are the facts?

  • No state has separate criminal codes for blacks and whites.
  • No state has more serious penalties for black offenders than white ones.
  • No state prosecutes only black offenders.

Here is what we do have:

  • There are black politicians in numerous state and local offices throughout the nation, including mayors, district attorneys, and chiefs of police.
  • America is not the Birmingham, Alabama, of the Bull Connor days. Those days are long gone.
  • Take Chicago. The mayor and chief prosecutor are both black, yet Chicago has a tragically high rate of homicides.  That is not—not—due to white politicians letting white offenders rampage through black communities. On the contrary, black offenders victimize other blacks more often than we see interracial crimes.
  • Any and every defendant who believes that he has been treated unfairly because of his race can raise that claim in court and get a fair hearing.

The president claims that he wants to unite Americans, not divide them.

Well, that is a lie. A “lie” is an ugly term, but it is the only one that applies. He is pandering to the worst angels of our nature, and to the furthest left wing of the Democratic Party, by incessantly claiming that blacks have been victimized by “systematic racism” without offering any evidence or argument to support it.

-Paul Larkin Jr. is the John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel senior legal research fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies


American Families Plan

The American Families Plan undermines welfare reform with new cash payments (referred to as refundable tax credits by Biden) and will discourage work and marriage, thwart upward mobility, and trap families in long-term dependence on government welfare.

Disconnecting government benefits from work reverses decades of successful welfare reform. If enacted permanently, this would be the second-largest expansion of the welfare state in U.S. history.

Under the plan, a family that chooses not to work at all would receive almost three times as much in new benefits as a median-income working family.

The Biden plan adds new cash grants on top of extensive unconditional benefits already provided to non-working single parents. A single mother with two school-aged children would typically receive a combined $59,000 in free welfare, medical, and education benefits even if she doesn’t work or prepare for work.

The Biden plan rewards households lacking work and marriage compared with those married and working. For the first time in a quarter century, it increases unconditional cash aid to young teen mothers. This is not an effective or compassionate strategy for reducing long-term poverty or improving the well-being of the poor.

Policymakers who care about helping American families who need financial help should reform—not expand—the existing 89 welfare programs costing $1.1 trillion a year, starting by removing the substantial penalties against marriage within the welfare system. 

-Leslie Ford, visiting fellow in domestic policy studies, and Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity

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