Is Bidenomics turning into Bernienomics?: Maria Bartiromo, James Freeman 'The Cost'

Biden wants to grow the public sector not the private economy

In their new book, “The Cost” FOX Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo and James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal review President Trump’s first term and highlight many of his policies that drove one of the greatest economic booms in U.S. history, pre-pandemic.

The 2020 election has paired fiscal conservatives against leftist leaning Democrats and extreme socialists. Whether that mix will benefit Biden or backfire is explored in this excerpt of the book.

Chapter 9: Is Bidenomics Turning Out to Be Bernienomics?

Some Democrats must be wondering why their party asked them to show up and vote in this year’s primaries and caucuses. Since last winter Democratic voters nationwide have made it abundantly clear that they do not want a candidate promoting massive structural change in American government and society. But the party leadership seems determined to give them one anyway.


Beginning in South Carolina in late February and continuing through the final months of the nomination contest, Democrats soundly rejected the radical option: Vermont’s socialist senator Bernie Sanders. Exit polling data published by the Washington Post in March showed that, across the Super Tuesday states, most Democratic voters consider themselves conservative, moderate, or somewhat liberal, while a minority call themselves “very liberal.” Most of these Democratic primary voters don’t regard income inequality as the most important issue facing the country, and their votes made clear that they aren’t seeking the socialist revolution promised by Sanders.

But since the voters had their say, party leaders seem to be systematically ignoring the message. After vanquishing Sanders, former vice president Joe Biden has moved rapidly toward Sandernista positions on the environment, health care, financial regulation, and many other issues.


Perhaps Democrat bosses are revealing their true beliefs, or maybe it’s just a panicked response to the usual lack of enthusiasm for Biden. Despite strong polling, Biden doesn’t have an enthusiastic following. Kevin Roose reported in the New York Times in April: “Joe Biden is very famous, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at his YouTube channel. . .

“. . . [T]he virtual crickets that greet many of his appearances have become a source of worry for some Democrats, who see his sluggish performance online as a bad omen for his electoral chances in November.

“ ‘This video is 2 days old and it’s sitting at 20,000 views,’ one commenter wrote under a recent video of Mr. Biden’s. ‘This is a guy that is supposed to beat Trump?’ ”


A Biden campaign podcast called “Here’s the Deal” was a springtime flop.

Biden’s sharp left turn on policy may help him secure some enthusiastic young Sanders voters. But since there were demonstrably more Biden voters than Sanders voters, one wonders how many aging non-radicals will come along for the leftward ride in November. After defeating Sanders, Biden decided to start taking the socialist senator’s advice and giving him a say in the Biden agenda, and adopting many of his policies.


In the summer, they set about crafting ideas to appeal to party radicals. In Forbes, Sally Pipes described the new groups created to draft policies as “a who’s who of the progressive elite—and signal that Biden is going to run for the White House on a platform that is further to the left than any Democrat in history.

“His healthcare task force is a haven for advocates of a government takeover of health insurance. . . .

“The highest-wattage name on Biden’s climate change task force is New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has made the Green New Deal her signature legislative proposal.”

In 2019 the Green New Deal and its potential $100 trillion price tag received not a single vote in the U.S. Senate even though a number of senators, including vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, had served as cosponsors. But its radical author is helping to craft the Biden plan for governing. In the summer of 2020 Ocasio-Cortez and her radical colleagues joined with Team Biden to publish a long document entitled, Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations.


The 110-page Biden-Sanders coproduction essentially calls for the political revolution long promised by Bernie Sanders. It says that “Democrats commit to forging a new social and economic contract with the American people.” Just like the Sanders campaign—and just like Venezuela’s socialist constitution— the new Biden plan recognizes things like housing and health care as rights guaranteed by government. The plan promises higher wages and affordable financial services. The “new social and economic contract” will also provide policies to address America’s alleged history of “economic exclusion and political suppression.”

The plan makes clear that the goal is to grow the public sector, not the private economy: “We will invest in the caring workforce, including by directing significant funding to state and local governments to retain and hire more teachers, public health professionals, nurses, home care workers, social workers, and other critical positions. Democrats reject any efforts to privatize public-sector jobs, from our schools to the United States Postal Service.”

There’s so much more, from Medicaid expansion to a new government-run health plan to free public college and university tuition for most students to applying ancient telephone regulation to the internet to a new Office of Environmental Justice to prosecute business.

Maria Bartiromo joined FOX Business Network (FBN) as Global Markets Editor in January 2014. She is the anchor of "Mornings with Maria" on FBN (6-9 AM/ET), which is the number one pre-market business news program in cable, and anchors "Sunday Morning Futures" (10 AM/ET) on FOX News Channel (FNC), which routinely ranks as the highest-rated show on Sundays in cable news. In April 2017, Bartiromo was also named the anchor for FBN’s weekly primetime investing program "Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street" (Fridays at 9 PM/ET).  "The Cost" is her fourth book.

James Freeman is assistant editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and author of the “Best of the Web” column. He is co-author of "Borrowed Time: Two Centuries of Booms, Busts, and Bailouts at Citi," a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Financial Times Business Book of the Month. He is a Fox News contributor and former investor advocate at the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

This essay is adapted from "THE COST" by Maria Bartiromo and James Freeman. Copyright © 2020 by Bartiromo Productions LLC and James Freeman. Reprinted by permission of Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.  All rights reserved.