Signaling that he intends his next 100 days in office to be as ambitious as his first, President Joe Biden has presented a series of new spending proposals totaling trillions of dollars to be paid through sweeping tax hikes . Before even getting to the political and political implications of the plans, the total price is enough for Biden’s Republicans – the educated, suburban, right-wing, and anti-Trump voters who helped him secure the White House – hesitate.
Biden was one of the more moderate candidates in the Democratic primary, but it would be a misreading of his past and present politics to expect him to rule in moderate.
The proposals call for massive federal investments in areas ranging from infrastructure and paid family leave to free community colleges, earning him comparisons with high-spending Liberal presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. And that is exactly who Biden is: an old-fashioned liberal who views major investment in low- and middle-income Americans as the government’s primary responsibility.
In other words, President Biden is basically the same as candidate Biden.
Biden was elected, with the crucial support of anti-Trump Republican voters like those we organized through Republican Voters Against Trump, not to be a small Conservative government or a deficit hawk or even particularly moderate. Voters on the right and left chose him because the alternative was a dangerous madman. And so far, Biden maintains its end of the bargain.
Although by temperament Biden was one of the more moderate candidates in the Democratic primary field, it would be a misreading of his political past and present to expect him to rule as a Democrat. moderate in the vein of Senator Blue Dog Joe Manchin. from West Virginia, whose opposition to everything from packing the Supreme Court to creating a state for Washington, DC, is preventing a progressive agenda thanks to a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate that cannot afford no defection.
After Biden’s speech to Congress on Wednesday to roll out his spending plans, there has been a lot of noise among GOP tax hawks waking up to the fact that he is pursuing a partisan and radical agenda. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy quickly accused Democrats of trying to “demonize work so that Americans become dependent on government” and claimed Biden “wanted control over your life.” (McCarthy’s outrage must be taken with a grain of salt. He has been silent for four years about President Donald Trump’s massive debt contribution, a common hypocrisy that dilutes most Republicans’ concerns about spending .)
But far from sounding like a central planning socialist, Biden has framed his proposed tax increases in soft terms. “Sometimes I have arguments with my friends from the Democratic Party”, he noted. “I think you should be able to become a millionaire and a billionaire. But pay your fair share. No doubt Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., weren’t exactly thrilled.
In fact, Biden rejected the most extreme progressive positions such as cutting private health insurance, completely forgiving student loans, and eliminating filibuster immediately, which would give the GOP less leverage in the government. Senate. These are all positions he has clearly expressed on the campaign trail, giving him a moderate shine compared to his opponents. But he’s also always advocated for other measures – such as a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, historically significant tax hikes, and a universal pre-K – that mean his current plans should come as no surprise.
Republicans claim to be shocked by his policies despite being in Washington for nearly half a century. Some accuse him of betraying his often-repeated commitment to bipartisanship. As Senator Tim Scott, RS.C., said in his rebuttal address after Biden’s speech on Wednesday, the new administration has “set us apart” and established “a partisan wish list.”
Leaving aside the fact that Scott seems to have forgotten that Biden’s predecessor turned “parting us” into a dark art form, the president’s speech included many appeals to Republicans. It would have been difficult for Biden to have signaled more clearly that his proposals only opened up gambits in what hopefully will be well-run negotiations.
Time and time again he has made it clear that he wants to hear from the GOP. Reacting to the Senate Republicans own infrastructure plan announced the week before his speech, Biden said, “I applaud a group of Republican senators who have just put forward their own proposal.” He shared the credit for the US bailout, which provided relief from Covid-19, with “Democrats, Independents and Republicans,” despite not a single GOP member of Congress voting in favor. He even stepped back from his prepared remarks to thank Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for renaming a cancer research bill after his late son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau. Biden.
By signaling so clearly his willingness to negotiate, he undermined the very positions he was placing, spending political capital for the good of bipartisanship. While Biden can certainly be blamed for a lack of compromise in his first 100 days, the content of his speech was considerably more conciliatory.
Indeed, Biden mentioned Republicans 11 times in his speech – and never with contempt, derision or anything else but calls for unity and cooperation. That was perhaps the most refreshing part of his speech: normalcy.
Biden’s speech showed no comment on his might and mighty power. He didn’t decry how unfairly his enemies treated him. He didn’t turn the address into a reality TV show where guests were awarded medals. Instead, he reminded us of our common bond as Americans: “We have looked into an abyss of insurgency and autocracy – of pandemic and pain – and ‘We the people.’ not flinched. ”The ideas that make America a great nation were woven throughout his speech.
So what if Biden has different political preferences than some of his electoral coalition, some commentators, and even some members of his party? Most voters, according to my research in focus groups across the country, are fully aware that their preferred candidates will not share their exact priorities or preferences.
In fact, a good old-fashioned political disagreement may be exactly what we need. For too long the country has been plagued by battles over the rule of law, the legitimacy of elections, our national tolerance for corruption, infiltrating authoritarianism and violent nationalism. If Biden was elected to bring things back to normal, then he has already taken important steps towards achieving that goal. What in American history is more normal than debating government spending and taxes?
Biden mentioned Republicans 11 times in his speech – and never with contempt, derision or anything, but calls for unity and cooperation.
The more conservative members of his electoral coalition, split-ticket suburban voters in Manchin, will continue to have political disagreements with his administration. Just as the president had the humility to invite counter-proposals, his critics should be humble enough to acknowledge his good faith.
Biden is wrong about some things. Many of his proposals demonstrate that he relies unduly on the power of the federal government to solve complex problems. Like many of his predecessors, his disregard for the size of the national debt and deficit is likely to cause long-term hardship for the country. Republicans – at least, those with remaining credibility on these issues – should do the hard work of engaging in these debates and finding compromises.
But Biden was not elected center-right president. Given the current trajectory of the Republican Party, there may not be a center-right option at the presidential level for some time, which is a shame for millions of voters and for the President. country at large. Instead, he was elected to be normal, competent, and non-threatening.
So far, so good.