An odd atmosphere has descended on Washington, D.C. At the precise moment the government announced that the economy shrank for the second consecutive quarter -- the popular definition of a recession -- Washington pundits began talking about what a great week President Joe Biden was having. And they meant it sincerely, not ironically.
Why was it such a great week? Two reasons, according to the new conventional wisdom. One, the Senate passed a bill providing billions in subsidies to the semiconductor industry. Conservatives denounced the measure as a pork-laden handout to big business and slammed the 16 Republicans in the Senate and 24 in the House who voted for it. But Biden, with unanimous Democratic support in both chambers, said it "will make cars cheaper, appliances cheaper and computers cheaper," as well as "create high-paying manufacturing jobs." The White House portrayed it as a win-win.
The second big thing for Biden was that Capitol Hill Democrats appeared to unify behind a kinda, sorta slimmed-down version of Biden's ill-fated Build Back Better agenda -- this time, one that focuses mostly on climate, health care and tax increases, instead of everything, as the original bill did. At somewhere between $400 billion and $700 billion, it's as big a spending bill as Democrats could get past Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, their most moderate member.