Enough is enough. Biden won the presidency in large part because of his ability to hold together the Democratic Party’s squabbling factions: It’s time that he reminded congressional Democrats of this fact. Now is a good moment to return to the invocations of Warm Springs, remind his fellow colleagues of what they got sent to Washington to do and, if necessary, engage the people directly in a campaign to enact his agenda. Here, the public might be a fitting ally: Many of the measures at risk of being stripped from the twin-bill agenda are very popular. And unlike tough legislative battles, such as the fight to pass Obamacare, there hasn’t been an authentic outpouring of public anger against what Biden wants to do: no fierce opposition at town halls, baying for the top-line number on the budget to be shaved by a billion and a half dollars.
There is a strong argument for making the case publicly: The infrastructure and spending bills advancing through Congress are vital parts of not just his presidency but of the Democratic Party’s electoral future. They are moral necessities, given the threat of climate change Joe Biden and the convulsions of the last 18 months. Most of all, these measures comprise a slew of campaign promises and pacts that Democrats made with the American people. The party needs to stop so aggressively devouring its own tail in public. But it will take a proverbial “adult in the room” to reset the scene and remind everyone of their commitments. Only Biden can truly fill that role.
Yes, it is still likely that something will pass. But the Democrats and Biden have hung their electoral future on passing something transformational. Here was, at long last, the opportunity to move past the austerity politics of the last half-century and pass long-overdue measures that might knit up the tattered sleeve of the commonwealth. Covid-19 and the disastrous fallout of the Trump presidency made that possible. But now, it’s time for Biden to seal the deal.
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