President Biden will soon sign a law a $ 1.9 trillion bill aims to boost the economy and help the US deal with the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It’s only the second bill Biden signed the law and probably one of the most important. So let’s look at what we learned from the process of getting this legislation passed:
- 1 The Democratic Party led by Biden is more liberal and populist than the Obama or Clinton versions.
- 2 For Biden, “unity” doesn’t necessarily mean bipartisanism.
- 3 Democrats have a big filibuster problem.
- 4 Democrats also have a big Manchin Sinema problem.
- 5 Republicans use their Obama-era game book.
The Democratic Party led by Biden is more liberal and populist than the Obama or Clinton versions.
In 2009, Barack Obama was in the White House and the Democrats controlled both the US House and the Senate. The The Great Depression was still in full force and one of the first things the party did was put forward a stimulus package. But especially a lot of Democrats more moderate members of Congresswere wary of being cast in support of too many issues. So the Democrats took care of the bill cost less than $ 1 trillionand ended up at a figure of $ 787 billion.
Twelve years later, the Democrats passed a bill roughly twice that of the 2009 bill. The economic challenges caused by COVID-19 are very different from those caused by the 2008 banking and housing bubble crash . Hence, it is difficult to make a comparison between apples and say whether the 2009 incentive or this is closer to the optimal range of spending to stimulate the economy. In my view, the higher spending in the 2021 stimulus plan compared to 2009 is not just about the economic environment. Today’s Democratic Party is further left than its 2009 version – in particular, it is more open to spending and much less concerned about being occupied as liberals with big government. While this bill is about stimulating the economy in the short term due to COVID-19, it also includes a number of liberal politics that Democrats would likely have tried to adopt even if there hadn’t been a coronavirus shutdown, such as increasing the child tax credit on $ 3,000 per school age child and increasing subsidies for people who have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
“This is spending on the order of the problem,” said Mike Konczal, Director of the progressive Roosevelt Institute.
He added, “It was not mitigated by overdoing, exercising moderation, or facing cynical debt. Noteworthy.”
David Dayen from the left-wing American prospectus described the bill as a “down payment for the reversal of 40 years of unequal treatment of the middle class in America”.
“The American bailout plan is the most important law for the benefit of the working people in the modern history of this country.” said Senator Bernie Sanders.
What has changed since 2009 to introduce Democrats to this type of bill? The left wing of the party in particular – think Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – has a lot more power and influence, drawing more moderate figures like Biden to the left. Democrats also seem to have concluded that there isn’t much electoral risk of spending a lot or being portrayed as too eager to spend federal dollars. That’s likely because it’s not clear that Republicans suffered from the election because of the massive spike in national debt during the Trump presidency.
Democrats, and Biden in particular, seem to have learned some lessons since the early days of the Obama presidency …
For Biden, “unity” doesn’t necessarily mean bipartisanism.
Before his inauguration Biden put forward a $ 1.9 trillion proposal for COVID-19 relief. I thought this was a bargaining tactic and he was going to partially lower that number to win the Republican vote on Capitol Hill. He did not. Instead, Biden and his aides met with Congress Republicans and said the government was open to compromise with the GOP – but Biden had never fundamentally changed his proposal. The Biden administration seemed to prioritize the implementation of its political goals over trying to reach a deal that the Democrats didn’t believe the Republicans would be interested in anyway. (More on the Republican stance shortly.)
Biden’s approach suggests that the former Vice President learned the same lessons from the Obama years as political experts and other democratic politicians tat: The GOP may not be ready to reach agreements with a Democratic president on important laws, regardless of the details. The Obama administration spent months in 2009 negotiating with Republicans in Congress on what is now known as Obamacare, when it is now pretty clear that the Republicans would never reach an agreement and make one of Obama’s signature law non-partisan.
If their approach to the COVID-19 Aid Act is a guide, it seems that Biden and his aides are not exactly abandoning the president’s unitary rhetoric from his inaugural address – You are simply not ready to sacrifice legislative goals in order to pursue them. Instead, the Biden team strives for unity by building the Rituals of non-partisanship – hold regular meetings with and being courteous to Congress Republicans – and by pursuing laws popular with a significant number of Republicans Voters (and continuously highlight this point). Polls showed for example a big piece Republican voters supported the incentive proposal.
But will major Biden initiatives be passed with large Republican votes? That seems very, very unlikely at the moment. Congress Democrats are already discussing the use of the Reconciliation process again – this is how this stimulus package was implemented – to hand over an infrastructure bill. Through reconciliation, Democrats can bypass the Senate filibuster and pass laws without GOP votes.
Democrats have a big filibuster problem.
Democrats like Sanders were desperate to include a minimum wage increase in the COVID-19 bill as it may be one of the few major laws passed this year – at least as long as the filibuster stays in place. But the Senate MP said a minimum wage of $ 15 would violate budgetary rules that regulates what can be included in reconciliation invoices. So the Democrats removed it from legislation.
As long as there is a 60-vote threshold, it is likely that a minimum wage of $ 15 is not the only important part of the democratic agenda that is getting nowhere. Invoices reform the electoral system, Limit discrimination against Americans based on sexual orientation and gender identity and Change police practices recently passed in the House appear to be dead on arrival in the Senate because of the filibuster.
Democrats also have a big Manchin Sinema problem.
Of course, this is especially true for the filibuster. Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona are the loudest Democrats in contrast, getting rid of the filibuster. And because the Democrats only control 50 seats in the Senate, the filibuster stays in place for as long as a Democrat (and all Republicans) wants it to be.
But at least because of this economic cycle, Democrats could have a Manchin Sinema problem and even put the filibuster aside. The West Virginia Senator’s vote in particular will continue to be difficult. Biden may get the house, the plane, and the oval office, but chances are his years in office will depend most on what Manchin wants (and doesn’t).
On this bill, Manchin – along with several other Conservative Democrats – forced the party to restrict cash payments to individuals earn less than $ 80,000 a yearwhile the bill had originally allowed people making up to $ 100,000 to get at least some cash. Manchin too successfully pushed for a reduction in unemployment benefits on the bill from $ 400 to $ 300 a week. And while that bill found its way through Congress, it was Manchin announced his opposition to Neera Tanden, Biden’s candidate at the time to effectively head the Office of Management and Budget kill their nomination. The senator is already hinting at that He’s wary of supporting an infrastructure bill when there is no GOP support.
All that has been said, Manchin, representing a state, that Biden lost 39 percentage points in 2020, just backed a $ 1.9 trillion bill. So let’s not exaggerate his opposition to the main goals of his party.
Republicans use their Obama-era game book.
The Democrats almost guaranteed strong GOP opposition to this bill by sticking to its $ 1.9 trillion price tag and not including COVID-19 related priorities in the bill. At the same time, it’s not clear that few Republicans would ever have voted for a Biden incentive. The voices are over Trump’s impeachment and distance and controversy over Representative Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene had divided Congress Republicans. So the leaders of the GOP Congress wanted to unite the party in contrast Biden’s economic stimulus plan.
And even without a desire to overcome intra-party friction around Trump, Republicans could have done so still mobilized against this bill. Everything indicates that Republicans believe that the way to regain control of the House and / or Senate next year is to repeat their strategy from the Obama years: intense and utter opposition to them Agenda of the sitting Democratic President.
These are my most important findings from the COVID-19 auxiliary bill. None are exactly surprising, but this process has made it clear how Biden is nearing his presidency.
During the 2020 campaign and after his victory, Biden had suggested that some Republicans might be persuaded to support his agenda because of his personality and long tenure on Capitol Hill. These comments were (and are) likely to be politically and picky-wise, because most voters are wants the parties to work togetherand most lawmakers will see a president more favorably if he gives at least the veneer to want to work with them. But it looks like that rhetoric is just that: a veneer. I mean, maybe Biden actually thought he could win some Republican votes, and the COVID-19 bill has shown him how difficult that will be impossible. More likely, however, Biden’s talk of working with Republicans made political sense all along.
When things got real, Biden passed a bill with only Democratic votes, made no substantial changes to reassure Republicans, and defined bipartisanism in a way that did don’t get included any support from Republican Congressmen. Biden cannot change the underlying partisan dynamic in Washington, and it looks like he’s well aware of it no matter what he said to voters on the campaign trail.