Bipartisanship is in Biden's DNA. It has always been-- for better or worse-- part of who he is politically. Last night, Axios reported that he intends to nominate prominent Republicans to plum ambassadorships-- including conservative Arizonans Cindy McCain (for the U.K.) and Jeff Flake (for South Africa)-- "to highlight the importance of bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy." But that is hardly the most consequential nod towards bipartisanship in Biden-World right now. They have redefined bipartisan to emphasize voters rather than politicians.
Let's start with a really happy headline from the Wall Street Journal: Forecasters Lift Expectations for 2021 Economic Growth. Yesterday, Gwynn Guilford and Anthony DeBarros reported that "Forecasters are increasingly optimistic about economic growth this year, though less so about the labor market’s prospects, as it recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic... Economists on average expected gross domestic product to expand nearly 4.9% this year, measured from the fourth quarter of the prior year, according to the business and academic economists surveyed in February, an improvement from their 4.3% forecast in January. They cited the distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations and the prospect of additional fiscal relief from Washington for the brightening outlook... 'The economy is already picking up some growth momentum in the first quarter,' said Brian Bethune, professor of economics at Boston College. 'The large $1.9 trillion stimulus package will provide significant insurance against a relapse into recession,' he said, referring to President Biden’s proposal."
More upsetting to GOP political warriors in Congress is the Chamber of Commerce, which is cozying up with the Biden administration in a way they never did with Obama's. "Over the past month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has taken a series of steps that have enraged its traditional Republican allies. It applauded much of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan to Covid relief bill; cheered Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement... and expressed openness to raising the minimum wage, though not to $15 an hour."
While the Chamber had endorsed potentially raising the minimum wage in 2019, the stakes are higher now that Democrats control Congress and the White House. And some Republicans feel the Chamber is being more deferential to Biden than to previous Democratic presidents-- a sentiment shared, with delight, by senior officials in the current administration who have used the Chamber’s backing of the Covid relief bill to sell it publicly.
Conservatives are apoplectic over this more than anything. It isn't just Republicans who oppose raising the minimum wage. The worst of the right-wing Democrats are working with them to tank it. In 2019 when the House passed the $15 minimum wage, 192 Republicans were joined by 6 Democrats in opposition. Of the 6 working class-hating Dems who voted against it--Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY), Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC), Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK), Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)-- only Schrader managed to hold onto his seat in November. The other 6 assholes were, thankfully, defeated.
McConnell, insisting that increasing the minimum wage is Socialism!!! never allowed a vote in the Senate. Now, in a 50-50 Senate with a Democrat as leader, it will be voted on. Two of the worst members of that body-- Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)-- have already come out against it. Yesterday, she made the Republicans' argument for them-- that there is no place for the minimum wage increase in a reconciliation bill. She's wrong; she's always wrong. She's also-- and I'm speaking from years of personal experience-- certifiably insane and the worst mistake Schumer ever made (a very high bar). Politico reported that "Sinema’s opposition is a blow to Democrats’ hopes of bumping up the federal minimum wage through budget reconciliation to avoid a GOP filibuster, complicating follow-through on a campaign promise from Democrats and President Joe Biden. And her defense of the Senate’s age-old rules is likely to frustrate progressives eager to use every tool at their disposal to advance their priorities in a Senate where one wayward Democrat can mean the difference between a policy breakthrough and utter failure."
Conservative ideologues like Sinema and the Senate Republicans are out of step with Americans of all political stripes. Most Americans favor abolishing the filibuster and that number goes up significantly if conservatives use the filibuster to block the minimum wage increase. Arizona groups are already organizing around finding and supporting a primary opponent against Sinema. Blue America will oppose Sinema's reelection whether there is a primary opponent or not.
This morning Navigator reminded its followers that last week they had reported that majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support Biden's COVID-rescue package, American Rescue Plan. Today, they added, "Among every subgroup by age, gender, density, educational attainment, income level, type of labor, and union household status, two things are true: one, the American Rescue Plan is supported by at least 60 percent; and two, support for the relief bill exceeds President Biden’s current approval rating. Moreover, the American Rescue Plan earns high levels of support from groups more aligned with former President Trump’s base, including those over the age of 65, non-college educated Americans, and rural Americans."