Without the Republican legislators’ considerable backing, Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pressing ahead with proposals for a $1,9t economic relief plan; a move that threatens to renege on the bipartisanship pledged by the new administration.
Since he took office two weeks ago, Biden’s primary legislative focus has revolved around implementing the sweeping fiscal stimulus package to help the US economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new President faces the dilemma of passing a larger plan with Democrat backing or watered-down policy that attracts support from the Republicans and meet his repeated calls for greater unity in American politics.
On Monday, Mr Biden had a meeting with a group of moderate Republican senators who had floated a $600 billion stimulus plan to reach a compromise. Still, the White House and several Democrats immediately rejected the rival proposal as being inadequate.
By Wednesday, Biden thronged by Democrat legislators to deliberate on passing legislation without Republican votes in the House and Senate where there is narrow majority voting with Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker card.
Gene Sperling, the former senior economic advisor for previous Democrat Presidents (Bill Clinton & Barack Obama), said that the Democrats prefer bipartisanship, speed and force.
However, speed & force are non-negotiable.
Biden’s quick departure from a bipartisan consensus in Congress stems from a flashback of the first term of Obama’s office; when he also spent his first term of office, invested significant time and political capital in futility attempting to win Republican support for healthcare policy revision and additional stimulus measures.
Josh Schwerin, a Democrat strategist & Saratoga Strategy President, believes that the Republicans, given the Obama administration do not negotiate in good faith and try to drag feet well aware they’ll never reach a yes.
He added that it’s in Biden’s nature to want to negotiate, want to collaborate, and give them the opportunity. If the Republicans don’t take it, then Democrats don’t need to learn that lesson again. Some Republican legislators in recent days indicated that Mr Biden was more likely to engage his political rivals in a stimulus bill, unlike his staff who encouraged him to adopt a more hardline stance.
But Jen Psaki, secretary of the White House, on Wednesday during a press briefing termed Republican suggestions as “ludicrous,” “Nobody will tell Biden what to do or hold him back,” she said. Ms Psaki also gave a rundown of how Mr Biden’s plan is more responsive to America families than the Republican proposal, thus underscoring the depth of the divide between the two sides.
One area where Mr Biden and his administration proposed that they would give concessions is the $1,400 cheque they offer for most Americans directly. Conceding previous stimulus rounds set a bar of full payments of $75,000 in income per year, that now project to reduce to $50,000, lowering the total stimulus bill pricetag.
The idea seeks to ensure that the Moderate Democrats including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who have expressed a reservation in the sizes of the package support the plan,
On Wednesday, a poll released in Quinnipiac University reported that 68%, including 37% of the Republicans, supported the Mr Biden plan, while 78% of the Americans and 64% of the Republicans supported the $1,400 cheques.
The Colorado Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet, told The Financial Times that time & again, the people of Colorado— Republican and Democrat say that this is the worst public health and economic crisis they’ve ever had. Therefore, he deems it fit for Congress to take urgent steps to respond & fix the situation.
He added that it’s crucial to remain open to any fresh good ideas on strengthening the package. Still, Democrats cannot delay what they’re doing at the behest of arbitrary political reasons.
President Biden’s propensity to press ahead without Republican support for the stimulus plan represents in part, the confidence amongst Democrats & within the White House that public opinion tilts in support of the rescue package.
Since the financial crisis, the economic consensus on the addition of public debt also has shifted drastically. Very few Democrats are calling for fiscal discipline during the recovery.
According to Andres Vinelli, vice-president of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. It’s hard finding anyone who deems being frugal with money as the prudent thing to do. And Mr Sperling holds that a general learning curve is necessary and audacious enough to promote recovery and achieve full employment given the nuances and complexities.