Barely six weeks into his administration, the president was already telling Americans that he had kept a signed promise.
“When I was elected I said we were going to take the government out of the fight on Twitter and put it back in the business of the American people, to make a difference in their lives, to give everyone a chance – a fight luck, to show the American people that their government can work for them, ”Biden said in remarks shortly after the Senate vote. “Passing the US bailout will do that.”
Biden prevented Democrats from breaking down and rushing without Republican backing. In the end, he did not need it, because the bill that was passed by the Senate only required a simple majority. But keeping her party online was a feat in itself. And in doing so, Biden succeeded in accomplishing something that former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton could not in the first bills of Congress: conform closely to the original proposal without having to give up much in return. .
“The White House said it was going to adopt a $ 1.9 trillion package, and then it did,” said Zac Petkanas, whose outside group, Invest in America, was formed to help Biden strengthen the legislation and then continue to sell it. “They had a disciplined message, ignored Washington opponents in order to speak directly to the American people, did not give in to pressure to strike a weak deal with the Republicans, and kept the Democratic caucuses united. It’s a hell of a good job.
Aside from a detour – the scuttling of Neera Tanden’s appointment as head of the Bureau of Management and Budget – the White House has maintained a constant focus on its legislative priority. As progressives demanded a show of dramatic power to keep a minimum wage hike in the bill, Biden’s team quickly refused to consider the idea. Their message was simple then, too: it will be raised in a future fight. For the sake of progress, they were also willing to cut unemployment benefits and tighten income limits on those who will qualify for stimulus checks.
Again, the message was simple: dealing with Covid mattered more than any specific policy. Indeed, the passage of the bill by the Senate comes at a pivotal moment for the Biden administration and the fight against Covid. Vaccine production and delivery continues to increase with the number of vaccinations. Americans are expressing optimism about the state of the pandemic. The number of jobs improved last month. And Biden’s own job approval rating timed at 60 percent in an Associated Press poll released Friday.
White House allies have said the still unannounced work of selling the bailout will be complete. Indeed, Biden conceded at the end of the week that Democrats should do a much better job than they did in 2009-10 to educate Americans about all the ways the nearly 2 trillion dollar package. dollars will benefit them. Speaking virtually to House Democrats, Biden said his former boss was just too “modest” to take a “victory lap” after passing his own economic stimulus bill – in this case, with the help from three Senate Republicans.
“I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did’. He kept saying, “We don’t have time, we’re not going for a victory lap,” Biden said, recalling the conversations with Obama. “And we paid the price, ironically, for that humility.”
The price they paid is what Obama dubbed Massive “bombardment” halfway through in the hands of the Republicans. The party is counting on this different moment, betting that the easy-to-understand nature of the relief program and the direct payments to Americans it contains will serve the party well at mid-term.
“The difference between this stimulus package and the 2009 stimulus package is that almost everything in it has a direct impact on people’s lives. Checks and (unemployment insurance) of course, but also the money for a faster and better deployment of vaccines, funding for schools, cops and firefighters, child poverty, ”said Matt Bennett, a senior official at the center-left think tank Third Way, which was in contact with the White House and Congress over the bailout.
“It’s not something that seems oblique like adding liquidity to financial markets,” he added of the comparison between 2010 and 2021. “It affects people where they live, and the Biden’s team has done a good job championing this cause. All Democrats must continue to make it happen for two years.
As proof of the quality of the poll itself, Republicans did not focus directly on the content of the poll. Instead, they blasted Biden and Congressional Democrats for passing it in an online vote.
“Democrats just passed their ‘US bailout’ through the Senate without * any * bipartisan support,” Senate GOP tweeted. “ALL of the other relief bills were bipartisan. ALL of the other relief bills contained compromises. The American people deserve better than this partisan wishlist.
A senior Republican official said GOP members increasingly believed that all of Biden’s promises to work across the aisle were lip service to voters. The aide said they expected an upcoming infrastructure bill to follow a similar pattern: “‘fine if you can get it, but nothing will stop us if we don’t get it.’ ”
“It seems to be their mission statement,” the person said. “At the end of the day, we want what we want and we invite you to join us, and whatever we try to fuck you halfway through.”
But Democrats argue that the Republican opposition is inconsistent with most Americans. Steve Schale, who helps lead Biden-aligned super PAC Unite the Country, said in focus groups ahead of the November election that voters remained consistent. “The only thing they wanted from the next administration – whether it was a Trump re-election or a Biden election – was a president determined to get things done,” Schale said.
While Republicans may be critical of the process – and if there may be increasing pressure from the expert class to forge a bipartisan path – Democrats in close contact with the White House have said they also believe that the second big Biden package also resulted in reconciliation. “I’m not buying the regular order,” said the official, who requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize their relationship with Biden’s advisers. Much of it, they said, is because Republicans have so far been unwilling to go as big as Biden wanted.
Another Democratic official admitted there was a risk of going it alone too often, but predicted the White House would have no other choice.
Biden, for his part on Saturday, said he continued to hope for bipartisanship, although he had not won a single Republican. “There are a lot of Republicans who have come together,” the president said. “They have a lot of pressure on them and I still haven’t given up on getting their support.”