There's been a lot of ink devoted to how much better career-long corporate conservative Joe Biden is for progressives than anyone had the right to expect. My expectations were very low, so I've been surprised he's been better than horrible. That said, this week we are all talking about Rahm Emanuel becoming an ambassador and today we found out that Neera Tandem has a big job-- that doesn't need Senate confirmation-- in the White House. In his 90 minute televised CNN town hall in Baltimore last night, he embraced defeat by the Senate's two worst DINOs, Manchin and Sinema, announcing the end of any hope for the wildly popular-- with the public, not the lobbyists-- tax increases for corporations and a disintegrating social agenda.
Biden's conservatism is catching up with him in sinking national polling, as left-of-center voters realize what they were tricked into electing. Last night he whined that "It’s all about compromise. Compromise has become a dirty word-- but bipartisanship and compromise has to still be possible." What does it have to do with bipartisanship? There isn't a single Republican involved in the process except yelling "Socialism!" in the background? Biden campaigned on his ability to bring Republicans on board. His failure may be part of the reason his favorable numbers are almost as bad as Trump's are. Jonathan Bernstein wrote in his Bloomberg column this morning that "It’s worth noting that Biden barely mentioned Republicans during the town hall. He mentioned the Democrats who disagree with him, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, several times, but he mostly refrained from attacking the other party for opposing the programs he discussed. (He did refer to Trump a few times, and not favorably, but the criticisms were pretty mild.) His target audience this time seemed to be Democrats frustrated by lack of progress on his policy agenda more than it was the nation as a whole." He had no target; he was just whining about how hard the job is.
Biden explained several times at the CNN-sponsored event how and why he was trimming his proposals, confirming that a paid-leave proposal was down from 12 weeks to four weeks and that he had been forced to drop his plans for free community college.
In multiple instances, he cited the opposition of two[raging corrupt conservative] senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), saying that after more than 100 hours of negotiation they had forced him to shift gears.
“Joe’s not a bad guy; he’s a friend,” Biden said, while explaining that Manchin’s opposition to the president’s climate proposals was complicating his effort.
“She’s smart as the devil,” he said of Sinema. But she is refusing to agree to increase taxes on corporations or the richest Americans, Biden said, adding, “That’s where it sort of breaks down.”
Given that, he acknowledged his proposal to raise the corporate income tax was all but dead, but said he was pushing instead for a 15 percent minimum corporate tax-- so companies would have to pay at least that much no matter what deductions and loopholes they employ.
...For weeks, the White House has been reluctant to publicly get into the gritty details of the negotiations taking place behind closed doors on Biden’s agenda. But on Thursday night, Biden dropped that reluctance.
During the town hall, Biden confirmed that his proposal for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave was down to four weeks. “The reason it’s down to four weeks is we can’t get 12 weeks,” he said with a shrug.
He also said that free community college had been taken out of the proposal, but stressed that he was working on increasing Pell grants to help make college more affordable.
“Mr. Manchin and one other person has indicated they will not support free community college,” he said.
He pledged to continue pressing for free community college, but acknowledged it might take several years.
“I’m gonna get it done,” he said, motioning to first lady Jill Biden, a community college professor. “And if I don’t, I’m going to be sleeping alone for a long time.”
Biden said that the plan to expand Medicare health coverage to include other benefits-- dental, vision and hearing-- was now a “reach.” Again, he said those plans met resistance from Manchin and Sinema, outlining ways in which he hoped to still expand coverage for those treatments.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “But here’s the thing . . . Mr. Manchin is opposed to that.”
Because Manchin has expressed concern about the long-term solvency of Medicare, Biden said he was instead hoping to provide vouchers to cover dental care instead of changing the program altogether.
Biden also touted his climate proposals, and said that Sinema was largely supportive of them. He also said that he had not dropped a key provision that Manchin has opposed.
The infrastructure package sets apart $150 billion for a Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would penalize companies if they don’t cut back on the amount of carbon they use. Biden said Manchin’s concern is that he doesn’t want Democrats to accelerate the elimination of coal in the country’s energy usage because of his state’s economy’s dependency on it.
“Manchin, his argument is, ‘Look, we still have coal in the state, you’re going to eliminate it eventually, we know it’s going away, we know it’s going to be gone. But don’t rush it so fast that my people don’t have anything to do,’ ” Biden said.
“I think that’s not what we should be doing,” the president said. “The fact of the matter is we can take that $150 billion, [and] add it to the $320 billion in the law, now that he’s prepared to support tax incentives.”
That money, he said, will be used to encourage Americans to slowly adopt more environmentally friendly sources of energy, such as electricity-saving windows for their homes or solar panels.
With more money for environmentally friendly energy, Biden said, he can invest in technologies that “save significant amounts of money, and as a consequence of that significant amount of energy.”
These technologies, he added, create “real good jobs, creates a hell of a lot more.” They would also “do a lot to keep things from happening that are dangerous,” such as massive fires.
In the end, maybe-- if he says "pretty please"-- Manchin will allow him to finance more blue recycling cans for home use. Remember: "Joe’s not a bad guy; he’s a friend." Like lobbyists; they're his friends too-- and not bad guys.