Talks between White House Biden and a group of senators seeking a “bipartisan compromise” on the president’s infrastructure bill have been difficult. Earlier this week there were even reports that they had stalled.
That was good.
But now, with the recent Republican counter-proposal to President Biden’s praiseworthy and necessary infrastructure plan, it seems that “bipartisanism” is making a comeback.
This is bad.
“Bipartisanship” still receives a lot of good press from commentators longing for a return to the “I want to buy the world a Coke” days of the 1960s and 1970s, when there were Republican senators just as passionate about their support Civil rights, environmental protection and robust social investment like most of their democratic counterparts. But those days and those Republicans are long gone.
The idea that there could be positive bipartisan collaboration on something as definitive as Biden’s American Jobs Plan is a ridiculously outdated and dangerous fantasy. It may still be true that in an emergency, Congress can pull together, as some measures did during the worst of the pandemic. But when it comes to building the future, Republicans have taken working for the common good off the table. Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Chairman (R-Ky.) tell us“One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.” The Republican counterargument to Biden’s first address to a joint congressional session turned down the president’s agenda with a litany of false claims and a fire complaint that “our best future will not come from Washington plans or socialist dreams.”
If the President and Senate Democrats think they can do business with Senate Republicans on existential issues of the 2020s, they are no smarter than Charlie Brown as he prepares to make one more attempt at kicking the football Lucy wants to pull out from under him.
For Senate Republicans, negotiating with a Democratic president is no longer a government exercise. It is a political strategy designed to distract, delay, and ultimately defeat Democrats.
“Bipartisan” is the GOP word for “Sucker!”
This applies in particular to negotiations on the infrastructure proposal.