Joe Biden’s massive $4 trillion spending bills are in mortal danger of collapsing under their own weight as the gap between what the radicals want and what less-radical Democrats will vote for widens.
To make matters worse for ordinary Americans, Biden has come down decisively on the side of the radicals, leaving party moderates to wonder where the sanity went.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, already passed by the Senate, is languishing in political purgatory with radical Democrats in the House threatening to kill it unless their $3.5 trillion social safety net bill is approved first. Resentful moderates feel they’ve been lied to by the president and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised an up-or-down vote on the bipartisan bill before the end of September.
Here we are a third of the way through October and the House still isn’t ready to consider infrastructure legislation or the safety net bill. Why is that?
Part of the problem is that radicals will be radicals and despite sweet-talking and compromising from Biden, Bernie Sanders and his radical allies have announced they have “compromised enough” and have declared all-out war to get what they want.
This upcoming stretch may be Biden’s last chance to revive a presidency that has suffered major blows in recent months. Since being rocked by the Afghan withdrawal and the surging delta variant over the summer, Biden’s approval rating has fallen steadily, hitting a low of 38 percent in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Some of the campaign pledges that inspired Biden’s supporters, from voting rights to immigration reform, have fallen by the wayside. A jobs report Friday suggested the economy has been slowed down by the delta variant.
The dust-up between Sanders and moderate West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is illustrative of Biden’s problems. Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin might live on the same planet but that’s about the extent of their similarities. Both men inhabit different realities. Both men talk past each other because neither man understands the language being spoken.
On Wednesday, Manchin reiterated his belief that the bill should not exceed $1.5 trillion, saying he did not believe that “we should turn our society into an entitlement society.” That prompted a blistering response just hours later from Sanders, who continues to back the $3.5 trillion bill.
“Is protecting working families and cutting childhood poverty an entitlement?” Sanders asked at a news conference. After reeling off a list of similar rhetorical questions, he added, “Perhaps most importantly, does Senator Manchin not believe what the scientists are telling us, that we face an existential threat regarding climate change?”
As far as Sanders is concerned, Manchin’s worry about creating an “entitlement society” is bogus. Why wouldn’t everyone want all the free goodies that Sanders and his socialists are offering? You’d have to be nuts to turn it down or oppose it.
Sanders adheres to a deterministic worldview that posits the idea that Manchin’s actions are due to his loyalty to his “class” and that the wealthy as a class oppress the poor in order to increase their own wealth.
Sanders sees Manchin as a class enemy. He is not to be bargained with, only defeated and ground into the dust. This has complicated Biden’s task enormously as he looks to close the yawning chasm between the ideological wings of his party.
“If Biden thinks he’s adopted a middle course that should leave people equally happy, he has misjudged the situation,” said Bill Galston, a former domestic policy official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. “The prevailing view of the centrists is the president has tilted decisively in the other direction. There’s not a lot of joy in Mudville.”
Meanwhile, the radicals are trying to drive the point home that they won’t countenance any more cuts to their safety net proposal. “There is nothing superfluous in the agenda. Every dollar is needed to deliver millions of good-paying jobs, affordable child care and health care, and a clean energy future,” Lindsay Owens, executive director of Groundwork Collaborative, told the Post.
The clock is ticking on Biden’s presidency. And unless the president can find a way to reconcile the two wings of his party, it’s not likely to be saved.