Politics Moderate Democrats are the key to Biden's success
Pence is helping Biden make the transition more normal. But their cooperation has risks for each.
Pence is accepting Biden’s win in a way Trump has not, helping Biden solidify his transition to power. That benefits Biden and Pence for now, but a volatile political landscape lies ahead for both. That comes after Pence last Thursday called Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris to congratulate her, offering her Air Force Two to travel to the inauguration, a courtesy Biden extended to Pence four years ago. Most dramatically, Pence on Jan. 6 rejected efforts to disrupt Congress’s certification of the election results, making him the target of a violent mob as he formalized Biden’s win.
It's been less than a week since President Biden took office, but Washington's tribal gladiators already are arming for mortal combat. Fortunately, pragmatic Democratic lawmakers are working to help Biden avert a relapse into political paralysis.
Senate Republicans are bewailing Biden's $1.9 trillionto end the pandemic and help jobless workers and small businesses tread water until it's over. Though few complained when his predecessor broke the trillion-dollar deficit barrier - despite a then surging economy - Republicans now by the "colossal waste" (Sen. Pat Toomey) of Biden's "massive spending" package (Sen. Rick Scott).
Covid relief, economic stimulus, immigration: What to expect in Biden's first 100 days
President-elect Joe Biden will have to juggle his own legislative priorities with his predecessor's impeachment trial.Biden frequently talks about the need to use the first 100 days, which have typically been a honeymoon period for new presidents, to make significant progress on the challenges facing the country, but the inability to find bipartisan cooperation may hamstring him before he takes the oath of office.
Such hypocrisy is galling, and it has tripped the progressive left's hair-trigger outrage alarm. Activists who didn't support him in the first place fret that Biden is too eager to compromise in the name of the national "unity" he movingly invoked during his inauguration. They insist he waste no time in pressuring Senate leadership toso Democrats can steamroll Republicans, at least for the next two years.
Everyone should take a deep breath. President Biden is anything but a political naif. Having been on the receiving end of Sen. Mitch McConnell's deeply unpatriotic strategy of total obstruction for eight years, he doesn't need lectures from sectarians in his own party about how rabidly partisan the other side can be.
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The theme is "America United" – a far cry from Trump's "American carnage" speech four years ago. It's Inauguration Day in America and you're reading the Power Up newsletter. Thanks for waking up with us as the Trump era comes to a close.
But Biden understands he was elected to save our democracy from an unhinged demagogue, not to join Republicans in fomenting intractable enmity between red and blue America. He also knows from bitter experience that one-party rule is inherently unstable and fuels political paranoia and extremism.
Biden believes there's a chance to pull our traumatized democracy back from the abyss of civil strife. He's certainly earned the right to test his opponents' willingness to join him in getting Washington - and particularly the Senate - back into the business of good-faith negotiation, compromise and governing.
Video: Barely on the job, Biden signs executive actions (Reuters - US Video Online)
He's backed by moderate and moderately liberal Democrats who hold the balance of power in a 50-50 Senate. Since December, they've been reaching across the aisle to Republicans who want to break with Trumpism and show they can deliver concrete benefits to constituents who are suffering the ravages of COVID-19 and the pandemic recession.
The Trump economy left Black Americans behind. Here’s how they want Biden to narrow the gaps.
The Trump economy left Black Americans behind. Here’s how they want Biden to narrow the gaps. Black Americans want President Biden to narrow systemic racial inequalities that have left them trailing Whites on every economic measure, gaps that are worsening amid the coronavirus recession. Black earnings are predicted to fall by at least 35 percent compared with 2018, reversing gains since the last economic recovery, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, and the Groundwork Collaborative, an activist group focused on economic issues.
On Sunday, the White Housewith 16 moderate lawmakers, eight from each party (including independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats). While even some moderate Republicans are wary of Biden's big relief bill, everyone agrees that the most urgent priority and opportunity for common ground is controlling the pandemic. Biden's Rescue Plan includes $250 billion to accelerate vaccine distribution, increase access to testing and expand paid sick leave. Every day the COVID pandemic persists costs our economy billions of dollars, so each dollar spent on these measures practically pays for itself. They should face no significant opposition.
The same cannot be said of Biden's proposal to send all but the richest households a $1,400 per-person stimulus check. Doing so would deliver on Democrats' pledge to increase the $600 payment in the December relief bill to $2,000 if they won unified control of Congress in the Georgia run-off elections. But moderatesare righty concerned that these payments would be an expensive and . Fortunately, these concerns can be addressed by lowering the income threshold at which the payments begin to phase out and/or limiting eligibility to households that experienced a loss of income between 2019 and 2020.
Amid calls for unity, President Biden and Republicans don't agree what that looks like
Republicans say Biden's aggressive agenda doesn't reflect his unity talk. Biden says unity is more than just bipartisanship in Congress.It was a repudiation of the flame-throwing politics of President Donald Trump just two weeks after a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop the counting of Biden's election victory.
Another obvious way to prioritize well-targeted relief is to extend expanded unemployment benefits, which are currently set to expire in mid-March. In the past, Republicans have objected to raising the federal supplement above $300 per week because it would result in the majority of Unemployment Insurance (UI) beneficiaries. However, with some assistance from Congress to , all states could switch to offering benefits equal to prior wages . Sending this assistance and until states have achieved herd immunity through vaccination or returned to pre-pandemic employment rates should be a bipartisan no-brainer. Other elements of Biden's Rescue Plan, such as targeted assistance to help cover food, housing, childcare and utility costs, could be similarly structured.
Biden's proposals to send over $500 billion in aid to help state and local governments safely open schools and maintain services face perhaps the most significant Republican opposition. GOP senators have opposed desperately needed aid in the past because they believe it would be a "blue state bailout." But both blue and red states are facing big revenue shortfalls and increased expenses due to COVID that. Tailoring aid to cover only these demonstrated needs should address Republican concerns that funds will be misspent and open the provision up to bipartisan support (as it during early negotiations in December).
If Republicans reject compromise on these common-sense relief measures, Democrats should pass some or all of them through either the reconciliation process or invoking the "nuclear option" to restrict obstructionist filibusters. But Democrats should first show the American people that they are willing to give Biden's center-out coalition a chance so that, if it fails, voters will know which party can govern, and which can't.
Will Marshall is president of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Ben Ritz directs PPI's Center for Funding America's Future.
Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president .
President Joe Biden has signed over 30 executive orders ranging from reversing Trump-era policy to adjusting the nation’s response to the pandemic.The orders ranged in topic from dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to beginning the process for what he hopes will be immigration reform. Many take direct aim at the decisions of former President Donald Trump.