Do You Think Biden Hates Being President?
Last night, at the same time that Pelosi roped in two Texas House conservatives-- two of No Labels' "Unbreakable 9-- who had opposed parts of Biden's agenda, Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez, the Washington Post published James Downie's column asking why the conservative Democrats in Congress are OK with killing Biden's legislative agenda. There's a photo of deranged Arizona sociopath Kyrsten Sinema, and on the House side, the worst of the corrupt No Labels whores, Blue Dogs Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Kurt Schrader (OR), Ed Case (HI), Jared Golden (ME) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA), are still not convinced to pass the reconciliation bill, which would discomfort their campaign donors.
Without saying so, Downie noted that there is a certain degree of dishonesty inherent in the positions of the conservatives who he annoyingly keeps referring to as "moderates," which they aren't. Their extreme anti-working class positions are primarily wrapped up on wanting to prevent tax increases for the donor class and protecting the special interests that finance their careers. The conservative shitbags, noted Downie are trying to claim they back Biden's agenda as they rip it to shreds. Manchin, he wrote "claims to support the reconciliation bill even as he urges a 'strategic pause' on it. 'I support reconciliation,' said [the most hated of the corrupt conservatives in the House] Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ) on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. 'And so do my colleagues. We meet all the time. And let me tell you, we all agree that we need a reconciliation package.'"
I've been told be an impeccable source that Pelosi's skin crawls when she has to be anywhere near Gottheimer and that his colleagues hope he loses his reelection campaign. One of his colleagues asked me to let her know if there's a viable primary opponent because she would give Blue America some "leads" and support for raising "some serious cash" to use against him.
Downie also wrote that the corrupt conservatives "have spoken up about specific pieces they object to. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and a handful of House Democrats oppose letting Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, which would save more than $500 billion over 10 years. (Incidentally, three of the Democrats opposing the idea have received $1.6 million in donations from the pharmaceutical industry.) The New York Times also reports that Sinema 'has privately told colleagues she will not accept any corporate or income tax rate increases,' while Manchin remains opposed to the current plan’s proposed corporate tax rate. Gottheimer wants to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions, which would help many of his wealthiest constituents."
But while it’s one thing to hold these views, it’s another to argue that these objections should derail the broader package that these lawmakers (and a majority of Americans) support. If Sinema swallows the tax increases she doesn’t like, she gets the climate measures that she prioritizes. If Manchin agrees to not means-test the expanded child tax credit, he gets billions in infrastructure spending.
That’s called compromise-- just as progressives have already compromised by reducing their ask by trillions. The final number may well end up higher than these moderates would like. But, as President Biden noted during a Friday news conference, when skeptics of the bill “go through their priorities, it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for.”
No doubt moderates don’t like being pressured to vote for things they don’t completely support. No one ever does. But opportunities such as this don’t happen often. As Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, “I have been looked in the eye by people in this town and they’ve meant it sincerely. There’s honor in them saying it. ‘Hey, Cory, we’re not going to get this in such and such a bill, but we’ll get to it.’ Well, sometimes that ‘get to it’ turns out to be a year, the next Congress, or what have you. I’m sorry, when you have the leverage, you use the leverage, as long as it’s not about ego or partisanship.”
It’s not every day that Democrats hold both houses of Congress and the White House. In the past 50 years, most presidents who have had one-party control of Washington have lost it after two years, from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Donald Trump.
Because a Republican-controlled House or Senate will almost certainly never give Biden a win, history suggests that this Congress is the Democrats’ last shot at passing major legislation until the next Democratic president. If moderates want to kill these bills, then they need to explain not just what they object to, but why those objections justify derailing the last, best chance at big change for years.
Manchin is not really a Democrat and has zero interest in any kind of a Democratic agenda. McConnell is very confident in him killing this or paring it down to next to nothing. As for Sinema, she's as mentally ill as Trump and in another realm entirely, a realm James Downie can't fathom. And neither cares at all about what Jonathan Martin noted in the NY Times yesterday, that "Failure of [conservatives] and progressives to reach a deal would fuel Republican attacks on their competence-- with consequences as soon as November in Virginia, and in the midterms next year."
Martin wrote that "it is increasingly clear to Democratic officials that beyond fully taming the still-raging pandemic, the only way Biden can rebound politically-- and the party can retain its tenuous grip on power in the Capitol-- is if he and they are able to hold up tangible achievements to voters." Again, neither Manchin nor Sinema (and especially Sinema) gives a rat's ass. 'For us to be successful in the midterm elections next year, tens of millions of Americans need to see that giving Democrats the ability to pass big bills makes a difference in their lives,' said Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware, a close Biden ally, pointing to the infrastructure bill and elements of the second, broader measure like subsidized child care and college tuition aid... 'If we can deliver things that matter in people’s lives, we will be successful.'"
Jeff Greenfield, also writing yesterday, but for Politico, took on the idea of Democratic disarray--rooted in an idea that Margaret Thatcher when she turned her party sharply rightward: "first you win the argument, then you win the vote." Although a majority of American voters are persuaded that the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package is something they want to say-- including the pay-for-- the insider political and media class (very much including the status quo-oriented Greenfield) is far from won over.
In shaping their sweeping social spending legislation, with a putative price tag of $3.5 trillion, President Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional leaders have argued that this is what the voters chose last November. And polls do show broad support for universal pre-K, lower prescription drug prices and expanded health care, paid for by higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations. In essence, the argument goes, “We won the argument and the vote and now it’s time to turn these ideas into law.” The problem is that the Democrats did not win the vote-- at least, not in the sense that mattered, given the unique nature of our system of government. And Biden has not even won the argument widely enough in his own party.
The Democrats’ victory in 2020 came on the thinnest of majorities in Congress and largely on an anti-Trump campaign-- without reaching any internal consensus on the specifics of a governing plan. With moderates opposed to key pieces of his social spending plan and progressives threatening to tank the accompanying infrastructure bill, Biden will have to quickly find a compromise that can salvage his agenda and prevent political disaster.
When progressives insist that the Democrats are in “full control” of the federal government-- an assertion echoed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell as he disdains to help avoid a government default-- they embrace a seriously misleading assertion.
After a dozen House losses last November, and with unified Republican opposition to the Democratic agenda, it takes just three defecting Democrats out of 220 to defeat a bill. The Senate, of course, is evenly split, and even that fact does not measure how frail the Democrats’ hold is; had Georgia Republican David Perdue won one quarter of 1 percent more of the vote last fall, the Senate would now be in Republican hands.
Yes, Biden had a plurality of some seven million votes; in a system with a national popular vote, that four-and-a-half-point margin over Donald Trump would have represented a reasonably comfortable victory. But all of that margin came from just two states-- New York and California-- which is why his election came down to some 42,000 votes in three states. And Biden’s win provided no “coattails” to down-ballot Democrats. You can bemoan the anti-majoritarian features of the Electoral College, the Senate and the gerrymandered House districts in many states, but the fact is that as a blunt political fact of life, Democrats did not “win the vote” that would have insulated the party from a single dissenting senator or a small handful of House members.
The joy from the media establishment, which very much does not want anything smacking of systemic change-- Greenfield leading the way-- is palpable as Manchin and Sinema charge forward against their very conservative colleague in the White House. As I always say, for the decades Biden was in the Senate, he was basically what Joe Biden is now. And what I am coming to believe is that the only way forward for progressives is to leave the Democratic Party entirely and let it dissolve into nothing as they build back a better party themselves.