Biden’s Enemies List
WARNING: Contains mostly Biden's friends….
The least dynamic president in a generation has to defeat a pandemic, revive an economy, save the planet from climate change, rationalize and humanize the immigration system, rebuild our infrastructure, and a whole lot more – during a time when his party is significantly more progressive than it has ever been (and than he is…) and Washington, our media and the nation are exceptionally divided.
And that is just on the domestic front.
Because he has made so many friends over so many years, Joe Biden has a lot of Americans rooting hard for him.
But/and here’s the definitive list of the dozen folks who are this week’s human headaches for the president, all but a handful of whom are deeply hoping he succeeds in the job – even as they each represent a unique type of physical roadblock, speed bump, or semi-concrete wall.
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BERNIE SANDERS AND KRYSTEN SINEMA
On Wednesday, two committees will hold votes on [Neera] Tanden. Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom Tanden had targeted in the past, has not yet said he supports her. Neither has Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who serves on the Homeland Security Committee. (Politico)
Whatever happens on the Tanden nomination, Sens. Sanders and Sinema have made it clear they are going to assert their independence from the White House, the establishment, and Chuck Schumer with regularity.
Caveat: Both senators are going to be gettable almost always when they are needed to save the presidency.
If you are still not paying attention to the growing discontent on both the left and right with the Biden administration’s immigration policy and with the facts on the border ground, today is the day to start.
Caveat: Most Acela reporters don’t focus on immigration very often, but if this explodes AOC will be just part of the booing chorus.
Drunk with power now on something stronger than moonshine, the West Virginian loves fawning press coverage and feeling like the center of attention. He seems not the least bit cowed by charges that his opposition to Tanden’s nomination is sexist and situational. Of course he is the showpiece of an essential reading Washington Post story on moderate Democrats interested in serious tweaks to the pandemic package:
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who has been a vocal skeptic of raising the current $7.25 federal hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour, as proposed by Biden, told reporters this week he hopes to amend the legislation to boost the minimum wage to $11 an hour instead.
Several Democratic senators are working on changes to the portion of the bill on state and local aid, including redirecting some of the money to invest in infrastructure to expand the broadband network.
Caveat: The White House still thinks, as with Sanders and Sinema, that Manchin will be a reliable 50th vote when they really need him, including on final passage of the covid bill.
With one Wall Street Journal op ed, the man who has gone from Mr. 47% in the eyes of the Dominant Media to Everybody’s Favorite Republican, Mitt uses his cred to undermine the whole Biden relief plan – and challenge the president’s true commitment to bipartisanship -- in the eyes of a lot of center-right stakeholders:
The bill is… filled with bad policies and sloppy math.
We stand ready to negotiate a plan that helps America recover, both physically and financially, from this dread disease. We are willing to compromise in an attempt to get the administration to come down from its ill-considered $1.9 trillion plan and instead provide need-based relief. We have shown a willingness to compromise—which the president and Democratic congressional leaders have yet to reciprocate.
Caveat: Biden has already cast his lot with reconciliation, betting on economic recovery and a defeated pandemic before the midterms – and thinks he can repair the out-of-joint Romney nose in time for other legislative endeavors. I hope he’s right; most of my sources don’t think he is.
With one Washington Post op ed, the man who has gone from Everybody’s Favorite Republican to Bye, Bye Buckeye, Portman uses his cred to undermine the whole Biden relief plan – and challenge the president’s true commitment to bipartisanship -- in the eyes of a lot of center-right stakeholders:
Biden faces an early choice. He can act on the hopeful bipartisan rhetoric of his inaugural address — and his presidential campaign — or contradict that message by trying to jam a $1.9 trillion bill through reconciliation with no GOP support. Working together has the benefit of crafting more-targeted policies, while showing a divided country that we can unite at a time of crisis.
Caveat: Biden has already cast his lot with reconciliation, betting on economic recovery and a defeated pandemic before the midterms – and thinks he can repair the out-of-joint Portman nose in time for other legislative endeavors. I hope he’s right; most of my sources don’t think he is.
SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN ELIZABETH MACDONOUGH
Ms. MacDonough’s outsize influence is a result of the decision by Democrats to use a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to push through Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan. The tactic protects the package from a filibuster, allowing it to pass with only a simple majority vote, circumventing Republican opposition. But it also comes with stringent rules that require the components to meet certain budgetary standards — and it is up to the parliamentarian to rule on whether they do.
With senators in both parties already mulling over possible amendments and changes to the $1.9 trillion relief proposal, which is set to pass the House at the end of the week, Ms. MacDonough’s determination could have significant consequences for the wage increase, as well as technical changes and potentially provisions related to pension funds and paid leave. (New York Times)
Caveat: Ron Klain and Co. plan to make a virtue out of whatever way MacDonough rules on minimum wage and anything else. This White House believes strongly in the mantra, “Don’t spend time stressing about matters that cannot be controlled.”
Caveat: Joe Biden is president largely because of Donald Trump, giving the Biden high command confidence that 46 will be a successful president at least in part because Trump holds approximately 55% of the country as Biden’s floor of support.
The Biden presidency is certainly predicated on the notion that he can get things done without dominating the news. That is an interesting premise and it might be true.
Caveat: Biden is going to live or die politically on whether he can more often than not under-the-radar his way to success. So being in the shadow of a Tiger is practically the plan.
Proving yet again this week that his propensity to speak with inconsistency and lack of clarity about the very most vital issues of how Americans should deal with the pandemic was not simply a result of having to labor under the watchful eye and Twitter feed of Donald Trump, the man who seems to like being America’s Doc is now regularly undermining the coin of the realm of the Biden presidency – straight talk on the virus. And he is pretty close to unfirable.
Caveat: Amid pandemic ennui, Fauci has been so wrong for so long about so much that even his Dominant Media allies have kind of tuned him out (a rare moment of press agreement with Donald Trump).
The fiery South Carolinian on the pandemic relief package, in Politico:
“It’s total bullshit, this package we’re getting,” said freshman Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who flipped her House seat in November. “I’m a single working mom who is working her tail off, desperate to get her kids educated.”
“And I see the Biden administration is opening up the border, but not opening up our schools,” she added. “How is this putting our kids first?”
Despite the spin and hopes of Team Biden, congressional Republicans are not afraid of opposing the $1.9 trillion Democratic bill. And Mace has rapidly become a reliable weather vane in the coal mine for House GOP sentiment of a certain, important kind.
Caveat: The White House as a practical matter doesn’t need to think much about House Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Biden has an “A+ personality” but that Republicans are “unified in opposition” to what he decried as a partisan bill. (Washington Post)
Caveat: None. McConnell is the leader of the Ratscrew Biden Caucus and always will be.
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