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Big government is back. Can the Trump-influenced GOP stop it?

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, on April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the Capitol in Washington.Melina Mara / Pool via AP

WASHINGTON — NBC’s Peter Alexander perfectly summed up President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress, which laid out his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief law, his $2 trillion-plus infrastructure/jobs plan and his new $1.8 trillion proposal for preschool and free community college: "The Era of Big Government is back."

And the question we have is whether today’s Republican Party — after the Trump presidency and after the voters that Trump brought in with his populism — can legitimately stop it.

According to our most recent NBC News poll, 55 percent of Americans say the government should do more to solve the country’s problems, while 41 percent say the government is doing too many things that should instead be left to businesses and individuals.

What’s especially noteworthy here is that these numbers are essentially unchanged from the Trump Era (when majorities supported a more active government) and they’re a departure from the Obama Era (when there was less support).

Just look at this breakdown of those who support a more active government in our current poll:

Percentage saying government should do more

  • 57 percent of those under 35
  • 56 percent of seniors
  • 55 percent of lowest earners
  • 55 percent of middle class
  • 54 percent of higher earners
  • 49 percent of whites
  • 78 percent of Black Americans
  • 61 percent of Hispanics
  • 82 percent of Democrats
  • 60 percent of independents
  • 23 percent of Republicans

And while this 23 percent support from Republicans stands out, there is an education divide here: Only 13 percent of college-educated Republicans want the government to do more, versus 26 percent of non-college Republicans.

Bottom line: Biden is betting big that the country will maintain this support for a more active government.

And Trump, importantly, helped encourage this mindset.

What Tim Scott’s GOP response didn’t mention

That brings us to the GOP response from Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who criticized Biden for not uniting America, for spending and taxing too much, and over the situation at the border.

But what his speech didn't do was present an alternative, forward-looking political future — other than praise what happened during Trump’s presidency.

Indeed, here is Rich Lowry writing in Politico:

“In 2009, President Barack Obama created a spontaneous, hugely influential conservative grassroots movement on the basis of an $800 billion stimulus bill and a health care plan estimated to cost less than a trillion. In 2021, Biden is proposing to spend about $6 trillion in his first three big bills, and he can barely create more interest than the debate on wearing masks outdoors.”

“The conventional wisdom was that after the free-spending Trump years, Republicans would snap back to being deficit hawks when out of power. There’s been some of that, but the relatively muted reaction to Biden’s almost incomprehensible spending ambitions is testament to the fact that, no, Republicans simply aren’t as interested in fiscal issues anymore.”

And to our earlier point, if the GOP isn’t as interested in fiscal issues anymore, how do they fight back against what Biden is proposing?

By the numbers: How Biden’s first 100 days stack up versus his predecessors

Here’s a numerical comparison of Biden’s first 100 days as president with his most recent predecessors as they reached this milestone:

First 100 Days: Executive orders signed

Biden — 42

Trump — 30

Obama — 19

Bush — 11

First 100 Days: Pieces of legislation signed

Biden — 11

Trump — 29

Obama — 14

Bush — 7

First 100 Days: Solo formal news conferences

Biden — 1

Trump — 1

Obama — 6

Bush — 2

Clinton — 4

First 100 Days: Joint news conferences

Biden — 1

Trump — 8

Obama — 6

Bush — 3

Clinton — 9

First 100 Days: States visited

Biden — 9 (Camp David, MD and Wilmington, DE each count as 1)

Trump — 11

Obama — 11

Bush — 26

First 100 Days: Foreign countries visited

Biden — 0

Trump — 0

Obama — 9

Bush — 2

First 100 Days – Appointees confirmed

Biden — 40

Trump — 25

Obama — 69

Bush — 35

Clinton — 49

First 100 Days: Supreme Court nominees confirmed

Biden — 0

Trump — 1

Obama — 0

Bush — 0

Clinton — 0

Some context: This is a new president who’s taken office during a global pandemic — hence the zero foreign trips, the one visit by a foreign leader (for joint news conferences) and the small number of states visited.

Also, not all legislation signed into law is created equally. While Trump signed 29 pieces of legislation into law in his first 100 days, his big tax-cut law didn’t take place until the end of his first year in office. Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief law, however, got passed during his second month in office.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

169 percent: The surge in anti-Asian hate crimes during the first quarter, according to a new report.

32,380,222: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 51,283 more than yesterday morning.)

578,306: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,543 more than yesterday morning.)

234,639,414: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

27.1 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated

0: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Miss the address? Check out last night’s live blog from

NBC’s Sahil Kapur has five key takeaways from yesterday’s speech.

And here’s what you need to know about GOP Sen. Tim Scott’s response.

Federal investigators searched Rudy Giuliani’s home and apartment yesterday.

Did the 2020 Census undercount Hispanics?

The Senate will take up consideration of a diverse slate of Biden’s judicial nominees.

Stephen Miller is suing the Biden administration, claiming it has engaged in discrimination against white farmers.