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For all President Biden’s talk of ushering in a new dawn of bipartisan unity, the reaction to his first legislative proposal tells a different story.
Proud socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders loves Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery/relief package and is already talking about using extreme tactics to push it through if Republicans balk.
Yet moderates of both parties in the House and Senate express concern about the bill’s lack of focus and potential to cripple (not bolster) the already faltering economy.
That suggests that Biden’s wish list is in trouble in both the 50-50 Senate and the House, where Dems have their narrowest majority in over a century.
Sanders is talking about using “reconciliation” to ram the bill through with only 50 Democratic votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaker. But the bill doesn’t even have 50 Democrats.
And if the House’s centrist, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus continues to balk, Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t even pass it there.
Bolstering the vaccine pipeline is the most urgent need now, plus perhaps more relief for employers. After all, Congress just OK’d a $900 billion bailout last month. But Biden’s trying to also, for example, impose a $15 federal minimum wage.
The new president is trying for a replay of the first Obama year, and “not let a crisis go to waste” in pushing a left-wing agenda, but moderates have more power than they did in 2009, and they’re not buying it.
Biden needs to aim for a genuine “unity” agenda.
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