Bicentennial Man: Ford '76 and Beyond

I guess I didn’t realize that Zorinsky used to be a Republican before he ran! He’s definitely a fly in the ointment but there’s a lot of votes Byrd can lose (and some GOP Senators of the Weicker mold are almost certainly gettable, for that matter. Partisanship was not very extreme back then after all)
Only reason I bring it up is because the wikipedia article mentions that the Republicans were trying to get him back during the Reagan administration. Now, obviously things are different here and if Zorinsky were to switch it would be a pretty small difference considering A: He's going to be dead by the time 1987 ends and B: The nature of the coalition that is the Democratic Party. But I just thought it was fun to mention!

Yeah it never came up before but I was wondering about Abscam a little. Definitely going to be interesting to see it shake out and those special elections too!
 
I’d imagine that money and weapons would be funded to hezbollah by the USSR-led Middle East coalition (USSR, Syria, and Iraq). At least from your latest update on the USSR it seems they wouldn’t be against aiding religious groups that fit their interests in the middle east and Hezbollah technically does.

Lebanon presents a great opportunity to get Israel into it’s own mini-vietnam so I wouldn’t be suprised if the USSR was able to convince Saddam to aid and help Hezbollah especially since the fear of a shi’ite revolution isn’t nearly as bad with no Islamic Iran. Saddam could also see openly aiding hezbollah as a way to get in good with the Shi’ite Muslims across the Middle East to help portay himself the leader of the Arab world
Well, Hizbullah wasn’t founded until 1985, and their initial ideology was very difficult to unwind from revolutionary Khomeinism. But Amal, which was cozier with Syria, is there still of course
Speaking of Arab dictators, does Qaddafi still invade Chad?
God there were a lot of big personalities in the Middle East in the 80s. I don’t see why not, though it won’t really have much impact on the plot
Only reason I bring it up is because the wikipedia article mentions that the Republicans were trying to get him back during the Reagan administration. Now, obviously things are different here and if Zorinsky were to switch it would be a pretty small difference considering A: He's going to be dead by the time 1987 ends and B: The nature of the coalition that is the Democratic Party. But I just thought it was fun to mention!

Yeah it never came up before but I was wondering about Abscam a little. Definitely going to be interesting to see it shake out and those special elections too!
Yeah I don’t see why he’d switch back to being in a superminority. He won with 66% in 1982 but probably not here (he may win, just not those kinds of margins)

My thinking is Abscam claims fewer scalps but Williams will likely be one of them (mostly setting up a Millicent Fenwick win in 1982)
 
Well, Hizbullah wasn’t founded until 1985, and their initial ideology was very difficult to unwind from revolutionary Khomeinism. But Amal, which was cozier with Syria, is there still of course
Sure but the idea of hezbolah was made after Israel invaded Lebanon. Khomeni not being alive doesn’t mean that the Islamic leaders in Lebanon many of whom who were all inspired by Khomeni (which I don’t see changing) aren’t going to still call for military groups to combat Israel. I’d imagine that the resistance to Israel in Lebanon will look a lot like what Afghanistan’s was against the USSR where it’s a bunch of separate groups that temporarily have common cause against the occupier. With Syria playing the pakistan role in addition to actually fighting in it, the USSR and Iraq providing weapons and money (and maybe manpower support from Iraq)
 
Sure but the idea of hezbolah was made after Israel invaded Lebanon. Khomeni not being alive doesn’t mean that the Islamic leaders in Lebanon many of whom who were all inspired by Khomeni (which I don’t see changing) aren’t going to still call for military groups to combat Israel. I’d imagine that the resistance to Israel in Lebanon will look a lot like what Afghanistan’s was against the USSR where it’s a bunch of separate groups that temporarily have common cause against the occupier. With Syria playing the pakistan role in addition to actually fighting in it, the USSR and Iraq providing weapons and money (and maybe manpower support from Iraq)
That’s true. I’m still trying to figure out if/how to tie Osirak/Lebanon together, especially with a potentially united Baathist front
 
As a reader who thought "Holy shit this person sounds amazing!" when he first learned of her, I'm all for that!
I had a very similar way about Walter Reuther when first learning about him. Speaking of him I’m curious if unions have grown in size/gained momentum since 1978 and if the long-term erosion of union membership we’ve seen doesn’t happen. During the 70s union membership was in between 25% and 30%. I’d imagine a conservative being in office during a huge economic crisis gave the AFL-CIO some very much needed momentum
I’m still trying to figure out if/how to tie Osirak/Lebanon together, especially with a potentially united Baathist front
Iran did an attack on the reactor before Israel did and allegedly gave Israel a bunch of info on it. If say Iran doesn’t attack the plant then Israel may go into the mission a bit more blind about the makeup of the reactor and hit the nuclear reactor dome which causes a minor nuclear fallout. That would cause quite the stir in the Arab world and could be the catalyst for the United Bathist front.
 
Looks like the Carey Administration is off to a solid start. Combating Inflation and reducing unemployment is key to getting the country back on its feet.

As for healthcare, once the economy starts to recover, perhaps Ted Kennedy can spearhead a a bill to create a public option healthcare system. Careycare or maybe even Kennedycare.
 
Careycare or maybe even Kennedycare.
I’d imagine they’ll want it referred to as as Kennedycare, it would attach a popular name to the bill and allow for Carey to not seem too liberal if they make Kennedy the face and spokesperson for the healthcare bill. Let Kennedy take the partisan bullets
 
I had a very similar way about Walter Reuther when first learning about him. Speaking of him I’m curious if unions have grown in size/gained momentum since 1978 and if the long-term erosion of union membership we’ve seen doesn’t happen. During the 70s union membership was in between 25% and 30%. I’d imagine a conservative being in office during a huge economic crisis gave the AFL-CIO some very much needed momentum

Iran did an attack on the reactor before Israel did and allegedly gave Israel a bunch of info on it. If say Iran doesn’t attack the plant then Israel may go into the mission a bit more blind about the makeup of the reactor and hit the nuclear reactor dome which causes a minor nuclear fallout. That would cause quite the stir in the Arab world and could be the catalyst for the United Bathist front.
A lot of that had to do with the ongoing Iran-Iraq War, of course, which there isn't (and won't be) here. Only question then is if Iraq and Syria can bury the hatchet sufficiently ahead of the balloon going up in Lebanon in '82, since Iraq and Jordan were pretty chummy back then despite Jordan being a key cog in the United States' network of Middle East allies.
Looks like the Carey Administration is off to a solid start. Combating Inflation and reducing unemployment is key to getting the country back on its feet.

As for healthcare, once the economy starts to recover, perhaps Ted Kennedy can spearhead a a bill to create a public option healthcare system. Careycare or maybe even Kennedycare.
Leaning towards Kennedycare or Tedcare of some kind. And yes, it'd probably be a catastrophic coverage public option plan of some kind, maybe also simplifying Medicare a bit and even raising Medicaid eligibility ACA-style, it sounds like that was what Kennedy was coalescing around by the late 1970s when he realized his more ambitious plans from the start of the decade weren't going to happen.
 
Leaning towards Kennedycare or Tedcare of some kind. And yes, it'd probably be a catastrophic coverage public option plan of some kind, maybe also simplifying Medicare a bit and even raising Medicaid eligibility ACA-style, it sounds like that was what Kennedy was coalescing around by the late 1970s when he realized his more ambitious plans from the start of the decade weren't going to happen.
Kennedycare is appealing and has that name recognition. So it wouldn’t cover everything, just major things? To help pay for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, maybe raise the tax from 6.13% for the first $25,900 to 6.25% for the first $100,000.

The targeted temporary tax cuts are great. Is Carey going to push for significant tax reform?
 
Kennedycare is appealing and has that name recognition. So it wouldn’t cover everything, just major things? To help pay for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, maybe raise the tax from 6.13% for the first $25,900 to 6.25% for the first $100,000.

The targeted temporary tax cuts are great. Is Carey going to push for significant tax reform?
Yeah, I have a hard time seeing even a more liberal U.S. administration going full single payer NHS-style with the conservative backlash of 1968-76 a fresh memory, so many Southern Democrats to rely on and the early 80s crunch and high inflation such a recent occurrence. Kennedy shifted his ambitions lower and lower as the 70s progressed for a reason, it’s just that Carter was even less ambitious (in many other ways, too). So that’s probably a good way to get the financing - payroll tax increase with no cap.

He will eventually, but the ESA and healthcare are the immediate, more partisan needs. Tax reform is something you can get an entire Congress around if you do it right, as Reagan found out in OTL’s 1986
 
Yeah, I have a hard time seeing even a more liberal U.S. administration going full single payer NHS-style with the conservative backlash of 1968-76 a fresh memory, so many Southern Democrats to rely on and the early 80s crunch and high inflation such a recent occurrence. Kennedy shifted his ambitions lower and lower as the 70s progressed for a reason, it’s just that Carter was even less ambitious (in many other ways, too). So that’s probably a good way to get the financing - payroll tax increase with no cap.
Or more accurately, Nixoncare-style system (which went far beyond the OTL ACA).

Alternatively, he could wait until 1984 to pass a single-payer healthcare plan, while focusing on combating inflation in first term. I mean, let's say his team is writing a healthcare bill in 1983, and then he finds out that he can win 1984 in a landslide, he should postpone it until after the election to get a more ambitious plan.
 
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Or more accurately, Nixoncare-style system (which went far beyond the OTL ACA).

Alternatively, he could wait until 1984 to pass a single-payer healthcare plan, while focusing on combating inflation in first term. I mean, let's say his team is writing a healthcare bill in 1983, and then he finds out that he can win 1984 in a landslide, he should postpone it until after the election to get a more ambitious plan.
Yeah something close to Nixoncare is probably what’s doable. Kennedy gets better than anyone, after what happened to his brothers, that you can’t wait for a hypothetical future bigger victory when you can pocket a tangible one today, so he more than anyone would want to strike while the iron is hot and Carey (unlike Peanut) is smart enough to know how Congress works and how to play ball and when
 
Yeah something close to Nixoncare is probably what’s doable. Kennedy gets better than anyone, after what happened to his brothers, that you can’t wait for a hypothetical future bigger victory when you can pocket a tangible one today, so he more than anyone would want to strike while the iron is hot and Carey (unlike Peanut) is smart enough to know how Congress works and how to play ball and when
Yeah, besides, they could always upgrade when they get the bigger numbers. That said, Ted Kennedy's original plan was prety ambitious and if the Republicans bit it hard enough...
 
Yeah, besides, they could always upgrade when they get the bigger numbers. That said, Ted Kennedy's original plan was prety ambitious and if the Republicans bit it hard enough...
With superminorities in both houses of Congress as well as state governorships (and, I’d presume, legislatures, but I’m not doing that math haha) there’s only so much the GOP can do. The conservatives Kennedy has to negotiate with are southerners like Eastland et al, who can often be gettable with enough bri- errrr pork
 
A Hundred Days of Action - Part I

The late 1970s economic crisis was easily the most severe postwar downturn and thus the worst macroeconomic conditions since the Great Depression; that high inflation came, counterintuitively, partnered with double-digit unemployment across the Western world was what flummoxed policymakers more than anything. Though nobody knew it yet, in the United States the worst was already passed by the spring of 1981, with inflation having peaked in October of 1980 and unemployment reaching its highest level - nearly 12% - in March of 1981, and the next twelve months would be marked by the slow, arduous decline of both indicators to more manageable levels before the economic recovery began to be felt for the first time starting in the second half of 1982. [1] The recovery of 1982-84 would eventually be seen as the bookend to the horrible macroeconomic conditions of a ten-year stretch begun by the 1971 Nixon Shock, exacerbated by the 1973-74 oil crisis, and then just when it looked like the worm had turned, the chaos of the Panama Shock and small-scale oil crisis in Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia in 1979 to go along with debt defaults across much of the developing world, particularly in Latin America and East Asia, in 1980.

The Carey administration viewed alleviating the immediate pain that would be felt by the cranking up of interest rates through the end of the year - a process begun belatedly in late 1979 by Arthur Miller's Federal Reserve - as their first priority, indeed the one that had won them the election against Ronald Reagan. The Carey campaign had aggressively courted the Greatest Generation's reliable voters and their fond memories of FDR by drawing very explicit parallels between 1932 and 1980 economically and culturally, and shaped that message to younger, more conservative Silent and Baby Boomer voters by portraying Carey as a gruffer, tougher and more modern update of America's longest-serving President designed for the meaner, leaner 80s. As such, any opportunity to cast Carey as FDR, Version 2.0 was taken with aplomb, and so began the marketing campaign around "A Hundred Days of Action," hearkening back to FDR's own first hundred days.

The backbone of the Days of Action of course would be the Economic Stabilization Act of 1980, which would feature two of the pillars of "Careynomics" - counter-cyclical infrastructure spending to bring down unemployment and targeted demand-side tax cuts for 65% of Americans to boost their pocketbooks in the near term. While both of these policies were, by definition, inflationary, they would be combined with continued interest rate hikes and thus designed to "balance the scale," in Carey's words. The President appeared before a joint sitting of Congress on February 22nd, at the invitation of Speaker O'Neill, to explain his vision, and then gave a follow-up address from the Oval Office a week later to the general public, outlining the "three planks" of the ESA: energy independence, infrastructure improvements, and small-scale tax reform. Combined with a variety of executive orders - one per day for a hundred days, each targeted at a different piece of the economy or federal regulatory environment - he termed it a "rescue package for every American." The response was positive, but skeptical. Carey enjoyed a honeymoon period approval in the low 70s and polling suggested he was trusted by the American people, but they had heard Gerald Ford declare that the United States would "Whip Inflation Now!" back in 1975 and, everybody had seen how well that had gone. The difference, of course, was that Carey by his nature was not one to sugarcoat things. In his Oval Office address, in his famously blunt style, he stated: "Things are likely to get worse before they get better, but I am confident that by this time next year, we will start seeing green shoots in this very difficult environment, and the spring after this grim economic winter will come soon enough."

While Republican politicians mocked the "Springtime for America" messaging from the White House, Congress got going on assembling the package, and the first major test of Carey's Presidency in managing the massive big tent of various Democratic factions began. O'Neill had a massive majority but well over fifty right-wing "boll weevil" Southern Democrats, most prominently led by Richard Shelby of Alabama, who were often more conservative than many of their Republican colleagues and were likely to be difficult to drag into whatever final vote occurred. The Senate was a different animal entirely. Though there was a veto-proof majority of Democrats, that majority featured very conservative Southerners, and even though many of them were relatively young and recently elected - with the major caveat being Mississippi's two octogenarian lifers in Jim Eastland and Jim Stennis - they were still fairly skeptical of major new spending programs, unless that spending was lavished on their home states [2], and they were part of the same majority that included progressive firebrands like New York's freshman Elizabeth Holtzman, who within weeks of being sworn-in was already being talked about as the future of the American left and the likely first female President of the United States.

With the Senate being the most difficult piece of the equation, Carey deployed his "secret weapons," as he called them - Vice President Reuben Askew and Senate Health Committee Chair Ted Kennedy, who he leaned heavily on as a whip operation to cajole both the Southern right and the progressive left in the body and be the point men in building a bill. Despite Askew never having served in the Senate, through his close friendship with Senator Lawton Chiles of his home state of Florida - who crucially was the third-ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, behind Chairman Ed Muskie of Maine and Fritz Hollings of South Carolina - he quickly built cachet on Capitol Hill and within weeks of inauguration looked likely to the most influential VP since Johnson. Kennedy, meanwhile, swallowed his pride and agreed to set aside his push for a national health insurance scheme until the fall. Unemployment and inflation needed to be tamed first.

The man whose buy-in was needed the most, it turned out, was Finance Chair Russell Long of Louisiana. Long was a moderate-conservative who was open to playing ball with the administration. The "cheddar," as Carey put it dryly to White House Chief of Staff Basil Paterson [3], for Long was major investments in oil pipelines, drilling rigs and refinery facilities in the final act to benefit his home state of Louisiana and other oil-producing states. This was an easy sell publicly, of course, as a way to improve American energy independence, but risked angering the burgeoning environmentalist movement that had erupted in the 1970s out of the mostly unsuccessful anti-nuclear movement, and which had powerful adherents such as Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson and Secretary of the Interior Mo Udall, who would be in charge of much of the issuance of future drilling permits, particularly on federal land. As a result, the expansion of American oil infrastructure was paired with a variety of "new energy" provisions. Ignoring the loud and stubborn minority of anti-nuclear activists, the ESA pushed ahead with dramatically expanding the provisions of 1979's Energy Policy Act, upping subsidies not only for under-construction nuclear power plants but research as well, such as the small modular reactor at Clinch River or Princeton's tokamak project, and diverted billions more to boosting the efficiency of hydroelectic, biomass and geothermal projects both extant and proposed while also shoveling billions into research into improved solar and wind energy technology and granted the FERC broad new powers in avoiding litigation over power line permitting and new transformer and switching stations. In addition to this, the ESA would move into law hundreds of thousands of acres of protected land, increase pollution standards for motor vehicles and power plants under the Clean Air Act, and made the Environmental Protection Agency a Cabinet-level department, the Department of Environmental Protection.

More than anything, though, the ESA - its acronyms chosen to avoid confusion (and association) with the Equal Rights Amendment by foregoing the title "Recovery" or "Renewal" - was an employment bill. The energy provisions were designed to provide new jobs, as was the demand-side management of creating the Employment Services Board, a new body that was designed to target unemployment via job matching, and the Employer Stabilization Fund, which provided cash transfers to employers to have them keep employees on the payroll rather than lay them off, which many on the left - most prominently Holtzman - derided as corporate welfare but begrudgingly acceded to. The ESF was particularly targeted at jobs in the automotive and steel industries, which had suffered grievous job losses in the prior five years, and not coincidentally were heavily unionized and concentrated in important Midwestern swing states which the Democrats had made huge inroads in during the Ford years. Billions more were allocated to the Federal Transport Reserve Fund, which would finance at subsidized interest rates a variety of road, rail and air transport projects to improve the infrastructure for the newly-deregulated transport sector and provide the baseline for innovation in that space - the money earmarked for Conrail in particular provided massive improvements throughout the 1980s to passenger rail travel in the Northeast and helped finance new projects in Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

The third leg of the ESA was its tax provisions. Carey and Paterson were adamant in negotiations that they would not cut corporate or top-level tax rates, but they did provide a small payroll tax holiday of two years and then a six-year tax cut to marginal tax rates for about 60% of Americans, with a staggered sunset of the rates in 1983, 1985, and 1987. Targeted tax code changes were also included that heavily incentivized the construction of commercial and multifamily real estate in city centers after two decades of construction in suburban areas, meant to revitalize decaying and collapsing urban tax bases; a boom in commercial high rises in city centers was to follow for the next decade. With the three prongs - energy, employment and demand-side tax cuts - the Economic Stabilization Act of 1981 was ready to go, with lots of interest groups unhappy with specific provisions but begrudgingly accepting of other pieces that brought them onboard. Now all that remained was to get it passed, along with a Supreme Court nomination at the same time. Nobody could claim that Carey's first one hundred days didn't have plenty of action...

[1] This is, shall we say, a marked difference from how the early 80s recession(s) went IOTL, where monetarist shock therapy exacerbated and extended the crisis well into late 1983 before the roar-back of 1984.
[2] Oink oink, gimme that pork, baby!
[3] For those keeping track at home, yes, that means we have a Black WHCOS as early as 1981, when there hasn't been one yet IOTL. This arguably makes Paterson the most powerful Black official in US history up to this point
Great post! Really impressed with your knowledge of the bolded parts. A lot of people seem to forget that older voters, up until the 2000's were a lot more Democratic. What I'm most curious to see is how President Carey combats what I think will be a significant attempt by the Right at a Backlash towards him. The GOP is in a far worse position than they were in OTL 1993 and 2009, but would be even more bitter in ATL 1981. The reason I say this is that Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford were relatively moderate Presidents despite the GOP base becoming more conservative. And the GOP has held the Presidency here for 20 of the last 30 years, and largely did not role back the accomplishments of the Democrats.

I'm hoping, as a Rust Belt resident, that the early 1980's economic climate is better than real life. The 1982 Recession seems to have become an almost forgotten economic downturn that really damaged the region to the point where further economic decline was inevitable. And the macroeconomic trends that came out of the 1983/1984 Recovery locked in the neoliberal economic philosophy that lead to Free Trade, Financial Deregulation, and Union Busting that worsened the situation, especially in the 2000's.

On a closing note, I've been intrigued at a Hugh Carey Presidency after a Ford upset in 1976 since 2011. I think Carey has the best realistic combination of experience that a President could have. Twelve years in the House of Representatives and Six Years as Governor of a large state. This timeline is much more realistic than Jeff Greenfield's take on this scenario.
 
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