Take, for example, the US national debt. It is now roaring ahead at 29 trillion (thousand billion) dollars. That puts the price of Trump at roughly $10trillion – a 39 per cent rise on the deficit he inherited.
Of course, the USA has roughly five times the population of the UK. But its national debt is roughly six times ours and its budget deficit at $3.1trillion is roughly seven times. It is true that the world is awash with debt but that is no consolation with China and Russia seeking world domination.
A nation deep in debt has little room for manoeuvre in a crisis. We live in dangerous times.
I conclude that Mr Biden will have to show the resolution of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the Cuba crisis of 1962, the financial rigour of Margaret Thatcher and the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan.
Unfortunately, Mrs Thatcher’s housewifely economics and resolution are not current Western assets. In fact, none of the US presidents I have met – Jimmy Carter, Reagan or George Bush Senior was ever as careful with money as she was.
Indeed, she continually reminded Reagan of his rising deficit. And splendid man that he was, he still had to be persuaded to back the UK in the Falklands campaign of 1982.
She was also driven to swing her handbag when he offered to get rid of nuclear weapons if Mikhail Gorbachev would. “Doesn’t he know you can’t disinvent technology?” she railed.
In short, is Joe up to it? And what sort of support can he expect from Boris who showed commendable resolution over Brexit but likes to be loved and does not seem to be in the least tight-fisted.
He could not expect much help from the EU even if Angela Merkel, probably followed by the pathetic Emannuel Macron, were not on their way out. Both France and Germany are in poor shape and are never reliable on foreign or defence policy.
It is therefore crucial from the start for Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to work together on the truly formidable Western recovery that is so essential to freedom and world peace.
Biden must not let his Irish roots – and the EU standing on ceremony over trade with Northern Ireland – get in the way of the special relationship that has never been more necessary since 1945.
Against this background, US and UK priorities are clear: conquer Covid quickly; get the economy moving and people working, encouraging enterprise, initiative and effort; and re-introducing financial discipline.
It will require political deftness on both sides of the Atlantic to encourage enterprise, initiative and effort while trying to bring spending under control.
Their task is all the more difficult because of the political divides. The political healing that both our countries need is in no way eased by the manner of Trump’s martyrdom, as some will see it, by being impeached a second time.
Nor at home does Scottish Nationalism seem to know what’s good for Scots – and it is not the crumbling EU.
Let’s assume Biden and Boris both get a grip over the next four years – and that is short enough time in all conscience, given the enormity of the problems. What next?
Covid-19 has stretched essential services to the limit – and beyond. Just think of all those suffering from even terminal conditions who have been left untreated.
Just think of the damage done to the police by the occasional heavy-handed policing of Covid law, not to mention the tragic consequences of trigger-happiness in the US.
Much repair work is required without much money in the kitty to fund it. But we must all get on with it and, most important, prevent future crises.
All the time we have to be aware that our blessed freedom is under threat from ruthless Communist regimes who do not (yet, at least) have much cause to worry about public opinion. Either you do as you are told – or else.
Yet therein lies one reason for hope. If we rebuild our democracies and stand as an example to the world – an example communicated by the international media – China and Russia will increasingly be forced to ask “How do you keep them down on the farm when they’ve seen Paree?” Come on, let’s force the question.
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