In West Palm Beach, Florida, ... at the Turning Points Action Conference, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) compared President Biden’s Build Back Better plan to President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society programs, which invested in “education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, transportation, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and welfare, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and big labor and labor unions.” She noted that under Biden, the U.S. has made “the largest public investment in social infrastructure and environmental programs, that is actually finishing what FDR started, that LBJ expanded on, and Joe Biden is attempting to complete."
Greene incorrectly called this program “socialism,” which in fact means government ownership of production, as opposed to the government’s provision of benefits people cannot provide individually, a concept first put into practice in the United States by Abraham Lincoln and later expanded by leadership in both parties. The administration has stood firmly behind the idea—shared by LBJ and FDR, and also by Republicans Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, among others—that investing in programs that enable working people to prosper is the best way to strengthen the economy.
Certainly, Greene’s speech didn’t seem to be the “gotcha” that she apparently hoped. A March 2023 poll by independent health policy pollster KFF, for example, found that 80% of Americans like Social Security, 81% like Medicare, and 76% like Medicaid, a large majority of members of all political parties.
The White House Twitter account retweeted a clip of Greene’s speech, writing: “Caught us. President Biden is working to make life easier for hardworking families.”
A story in the New York Times today by Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman outlined how former president Donald Trump and his allies are planning to create a dictatorship if voters return him to power in 2024. The article talks about how Trump and his loyalists plan to “centralize more power in the Oval Office” by “increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House.”
They plan to take control over independent government agencies and get rid of the nonpartisan civil service, purging all but Trump loyalists from the U.S. intelligence agencies, the State Department, and the Defense Department. They plan to start “impounding funds,” that is, ignoring programs Congress has funded if those programs aren’t in line with Trump’s policies.
“What we’re trying to do is identify the pockets of independence and seize them,” said Russell T. Vought, who ran Trump’s Office of Management and Budget and who now advises the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. They envision a “president” who cannot be checked by the Congress or the courts.
Trump’s desire to grab the mechanics of our government and become a dictator is not new; both scholars and journalists have called it out since the early years of his administration. What is new here is the willingness of so-called establishment Republicans to support this authoritarian power grab.
Behind this initiative is “Project 2025,” a coalition of more than 65 right-wing organizations putting in place personnel and policies to recommend not just to Trump, but to any Republican who may win in 2024. Project 2025 is led by the Heritage Foundation, once considered a conservative think tank, that helped to lead the Reagan revolution (emphasis added).