President Joe Biden meets with members of congress to discuss his jobs plan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 19, 2021.
During last year’s presidential campaign, we reviewed the rural economy plans from each of the candidates and found Joe Biden’s to be one of the thinnest and least inspiring.
For what it’s worth, the most detailed plan came from Pete Buttigieg, now Biden’s secretary of transportation.
Ideology seemed to have little to do with this: On the right, then-President Donald Trump did nothing to try to build a new economy in rural America in the wake of an historic economic transition that is draining the heartland of people and jobs while metro areas mostly along the coasts prosper like never before.
On the contrary, Trump tried to eliminate funding for some of the agencies most closely connected with rural economic development, such as the Appalachian Regional Commission. He seemed more content to play rural America for cultural tropes than deal with the hard economic challenges.
On the other hand, Bernie Sanders on the left didn’t show much enthusiasm for, or interest in, the task, either.
So count us quite surprised now to see just how energetically Biden is moving to address what economists have called “the great divergence” between rural and urban America or what might be better called “the great disconnect.”
Once, when urban American prospered, some of that prosperity eventually found its way to rural America — as factories roared in the Midwest, coal mines boomed in Appalachia to feed those furnaces. But now we see head-spinning growth in some tech capitals, but Silicon Valley isn’t buying algorithms put together in Danville.