“It wasn’t an honorary title,” said Axelrod about Biden’s role. “He was deeply involved in both crafting it and passing it. And when it passed, he ended up administering it. He was literally on the phone every day with mayors and governors and members of Congress and all kinds of people to see the implementation.”
While that experience will serve Biden well once he takes office, things are radically different this time.
“Trump will set himself up as the leader of the resistance, putting pressure on Republicans not to cooperate,” said Axelrod. “That’s a level of complication we didn’t have [in 2009].”
But Axelrod and some economists say the 2009 playbook could be a key to reviving the economy.
“We learned a lot from that experience, what worked and didn’t work,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “That augers well for the response here. I take great solace in the fact that the team that went through that will be calling the shots again this time.”
“They’ve seen this movie before. It’s probably going to help them form their strategy,” said Axelrod.
Much of the 2009 stimulus package was in the form of tax breaks. That’s not as likely to happen this time.
“The tax cuts were added in part because we thought it would make the bill more enticing to Republicans. It did not,” said Axelrod, referring to a bill that passed with virtually no Republican support. “We thought there would be some modicum of support from Republicans concerned about the economy. We were dealt a sober lesson. Biden may feel like he could do be better based on his relationships with Republican senators. That would be great for the country if he does. But I don’t think he’ll go in expecting that to be the case.”
“If they pass anything in the lame duck, I don’t see [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell saying, ‘We need to do more.'”