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Conventional wisdom is that the Senate has to prove it can work, and the test of how it works is how much of Biden’s spending Republicans approve of.
This is a skewed view of the Senate’s role, which shouldn’t be to instigate a historic buying spree that Biden didn’t win a mandate for and that isn’t justified by conditions in the country (it’s not true, for example, that the infrastructure of the country is crumbling).
Also, if bipartisan spending is the test, the Senate only passed a $ 200 billion Chinese competition law a few weeks ago by 68 votes to 32. $ 200 billion was a lot of money in the past, but now it’s not valued unless there is $ 6 trillion on the table.
The infrastructure deal tumbled from gloriously alive to dead when Biden explicitly linked its passage with the simultaneous passage of a reconciliation law with the Democratic Party’s remaining spending priorities.
Then it picked up again when Biden went back this and promised a double lane for the two bills.
Republicans’ staunch insistence on these two avenues makes little sense and amounts to asking Democrats to allow a reasonable break before proceeding with the rest of their spending.
So at the end of the day there is only one lead: the Democrats will spend as much money as possible. The bipartisan deal could cut some money off of tough infrastructure priorities (according to the Playbook, the White House says it doesn’t want to double up on electric cars or broadband, for example, by getting some money for them in the deal and then getting more on the reconciliation bill). But the focus will blow the spending across the board.
The Republicans’ reckoning is that a significant bipartisan package can take some of the heat off Sen. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in their opposition to the filibuster.
A deal passed and signed will surely be a feather in their caps, but it’s hard to believe that if the deal failed, they’d change their minds about the filibuster.
They’re both so comprehensive and tenacious on the filibuster that relegation would be politically embarrassing and dangerous. You may sincerely believe that the filibuster is institutionally important to the Senate. But politics also work by allowing them to brand themselves as a different breed of democrat.
When they turn the filibuster around, they release the brakes on the leftmost parts of the democratic agenda and find many hard votes on priorities that are dear to the democratic base.
Republicans who support the deal also believe it will make it difficult to pass the subsequent reconciliation law. First, the parts of the infrastructure with the broadest support – roads and bridges – will be included in the deal and Not in the equalization calculation. Second, the undesirable tax hikes excluded from the bipartisan agreement will be in the equalization calculation.
This is not a crazy calculation, although it is clearly not correct either. The higher the top line number on the reconciliation bill, the harder it is to pass. By allowing Democrats to split some of their spending into a bipartisan agreement, the total number for the Reconciliation Act will decrease. In other words, the bipartisan deal could bring about the partisan reconciliation Easier rather than harder to happen.
If so, then there is a two-party relationship in the service of a partisan end.
It’s not that Biden is tax prudent on all other fronts except in this one area he believes is a particularly important national investment with unmistakable returns. No, it is generally wasteful. His reckless spending on all fronts (except defense) makes it more urgent for Republicans to stake a position in the opposition four.
Incidentally, it is not that the bipartisan bill is a model law. It resorts to all of the standard Beltway gimmicks to create the pretext that it’s getting paid, when it’s basically as irresponsible as the rest of the Biden spending.
Non-partisanship has its uses, but so does partisanship. Joe Biden wants to be known for his FDR and LBJ-like government spending and believes this is key to political success and an enduring legacy. Fine. Leave it to him and his party.