• Sometimes news charges at you, sometimes it creeps up. Our cover story this week is about news in the creeping category. In the past two years America’s Congress has passed three bills, on infrastructure, semiconductor chips and greenery. They’re complicated and they have misleading names such as the “Inflation Reduction Act”, which isn’t really about inflation (and certainly won’t reduce it). What matters, though, is that these bills will together lead to spending of $2trn on remaking America’s economy.
• The idea is that, with government action, America can reindustrialise itself, bolster national security, revive left-behind places, cheer up blue-collar workers and dramatically reduce its carbon emissions all at the same time. It is the country’s most ambitious and dirigiste industrial policy for many decades. In a series of articles beginning this week The Economist will be assessing Joe Biden’s giant bet on transforming America.
• The president is taking an epoch-making political gamble by acting on so many fronts. But the only way to build a majority in Congress was to bolt a Democratic desire to act on climate change on to hawkish worries about the threat from China and the need to deal with left-behind places in the American heartland. On its own, each of these concerns is valid. But the political necessity to bind them together has led America into a second-best world. The goals will sometimes conflict, the protectionism will infuriate allies and the subsidies will create inefficiencies.
• A giant plan that has so many disparate objectives does not simply succeed or fail. Its full consequences may not become clear for many years. But, as our coverage will show over the coming months, it is sure to change America profoundly.
Zanny Minton Beddoes