No spirit of radicalism animates these ideas. They are not driven by ideology nor by any past commitment to any agenda. They follow as matters of logic and fact from an understanding of the situation. The previous structure of the American economy was highly efficient in some ways.  It supported, although unequally, a high living standard for a very large part of the population. But circumstances have changed in ways that cannot be controlled or reversed, and that will not evaporate on their own, whatever happens to the virus and the pandemic.

It is therefore a delusion to think that markets will restore us to well-being on their own. It is a delusion to think that the mere injection of money, however great and generous and however needed for the short run, will bring back the happy mix of jobs and incomes we’ve just lost. It is a delusion to think that the easy methods of the postwar economists, whose ideas have dominated liberal thought and response to economic crises for 70 years now, will work in the face of the Covid-19 challenge. The path forward requires planning and action on a far larger scale. It requires skills, imagination, local knowledge, commitment, and mobilization that resemble — but actually surpass — those brought to bear in the New Deal.

The only good news is that other unprecedented crises have happened before. In most cases, the result has been disaster. But there are a few moments in American history when the country rallied to do what was necessary, overcoming the odds, the powers, the old ideas, and the bad actors who stood in the way. It did so in 1861, in 1933, and in 1942. And here we are again.

Biden was right to invoke Roosevelt and the New Deal. America needs for him to mean it.