Biden grows government to buy votes. Meanwhile, Argentina's Milei schools him on capitalism.

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Let me tell you a tale of two presidents.

One is a fierce defender of free-market capitalism, limited government and personal freedom.

The other is a big-government proponent who keeps adding regulations on businesses and spending the country can’t afford.

One of these men is the president of the United States. The other is the president of Argentina.

And I’m sorry to say that President Joe Biden is not the defender of capitalism, smaller government and freedom.

President Joe Biden leaves the White House to travel to Camp David on Jan. 13, 2024.
President Joe Biden leaves the White House to travel to Camp David on Jan. 13, 2024.

Last week, Argentina’s newly elected President Javier Milei gave a rousing speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that blew up the internet (at least among conservatives and the business world). The libertarian economist's 20-minute lecture centered on the dangers facing the Western world if countries keep turning from the free-market system to heavy-handed government intervention.

Meanwhile, Biden announced that he would “cancel” more student loan debt in a blatant ploy to curry favor among voters – especially the young voters who have little interest in supporting the 81-year-old. The president has fast-tracked loan forgiveness with no explanation.

Rather than grow the scope of government and pile on to the national debt, Biden should consider Milei’s warning.

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'The Western world is in danger'

“Today I'm here to tell you that the Western world is in danger. And it is in danger because those who are supposed to have to defend the values of the West are co-opted by a vision of the world that inexorably leads to socialism and thereby to poverty," Milei told the crowd.

"Unfortunately, in recent decades, motivated by some well-meaning individuals willing to help others, and others motivated by the desire to belong to a privileged class, the main leaders of the Western world have abandoned the model of freedom for different versions of what we call collectivism."

Argentina learned these lessons the hard way. In the past century, it experimented with socialism and went from a prosperous country to a struggling one where the government intervened in the economy. High taxes and high inflation followed.

Sound familiar?

Argentinian President Javier Milei delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 17, 2024.
Argentinian President Javier Milei delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 17, 2024.

Biden’s determination to create an expansive new entitlement program in the form of student debt cancellation is just one example of how Democrats want to move this country toward the kind of collectivism and big-government meddling Milei is talking about.

That loan debt doesn’t magically disappear. It becomes the responsibility of all taxpayers, and it adds to the national debt, which has reached a stunning $34 trillion.

Other people's money: Biden will not be deterred from using your money to pay off other people's student loans

Government is not the answer

Ever since taking office, Biden and his administration have worked to expand government regulations and federal programs. Often the motivation for such intrusions is one of “fairness” or “social justice.”

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Yet, this is precisely what Milei talks about and says led to his country’s undoing decades ago. Bigger government always leads to less individual freedom – and the hampering of capitalism.

While Biden’s relentless push to “forgive” loans of millions of people who knowingly took them on may seem nice, it’s anything but.

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As Milei pointed out, a country’s prosperity and growth are tied to economic freedom and limited government: “Do not surrender to the advance of the state. The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself.”

Argentinians who were sick of what was happening to their country went in a very different direction in electing Milei.

Americans have a choice this year, too, and the stakes are high.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on X, formerly Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden panders to voters with student debt relief. But beware the cost