Joe Biden wants to avoid the Obama era’s biggest economic mistake. Congress may not let him

The federal government didn’t act aggressively enough in 2009 to fight the Great Recession. And the economic recovery was weaker as a result.

Joe Biden, as former President Obama’s vice president, learned that painful lesson firsthand. That’s why Biden is taking a go-big, or go-home approach now that he’s inheriting a fragile economy and the worst pandemic in a century.

Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan shows that he’s determined to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Great Recession — if Congress lets him.

“If we look back and think this plan was too big, that would be a regret that would be fine to live with,” Jason Furman, one of the architects of the 2009 stimulus plan, told CNN Business.

Let’s address the crisis right in front of us. Get growth going in the economy, which is the best way to pay down that debt.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Furman, a former top economic aide to Obama, recalled that the team wanted a $1 trillion stimulus package in 2009 — or roughly 25% bigger than the record-setting legislation that ultimately got through Congress.

“The recovery was slower from the financial crisis because the stimulus wasn’t bigger,” said Furman, who served as one of Obama’s top economic advisers.

By contrast, economists say the Biden plan should help the US economy ride out the next six months or so of the pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans.