Maybe it’s time we conservatives start taking Joe Biden seriously. After steamrolling Republicans and passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package on a party-line basis, Biden is now pushing for $2.3 trillion in infrastructure spending along with a proposed corporate tax hike to pay for it.
If we ignore that much of this so-called infrastructure spending is for things like “human infrastructure,” not roads and bridges, we are still talking about a HUGE amount of money—and it’s only the first half of a two-part plan. But it’s not just the massive scale of spending that is remarkable. What’s remarkable is the way that Biden, once assumed to be a centrist compromiser, wants to jam through the plan. “Let’s work together and see if there’s a way for us to deliver this,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Politico’s Ryan Lizza on Thursday, before hastening to add: “In the end, let me be clear, the president was elected to do a job.”
Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah. It was back in early February when 10 Republicans met with Biden in the Oval Office to talk about the COVID-relief package. They were barely out the door before White House press secretary Jen Psaki put out a statement very similar to Klain’s. In fact, I interpreted her words as follows: “…Biden wants bipartisan support, but not bipartisan compromise (at least, not much) because, after all, his plan ‘was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment.’”
My read of the moment turned out to be accurate, and I think it was indicative of the Biden administration’s strategy. The National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar has described that strategy as: “Go for broke in the next two years because it’s the last best chance to get things done before the inevitable backlash. It’s not the unity that was promised, but rather the power politics that a no-holds-barred operator like [Rahm] Emanuel or even Mitch McConnell would appreciate.”
Biden doesn’t come across as ruthless as Rahm or as amoral and calculating as Mitch, which actually makes him more effective. In baseball, a pitcher whose slow delivery belies his velocity is thought of as “sneaky fast.” The political version may be Joe Biden—who is both “sneaky fast” and, it turns out, “sneaky partisan.” In fact, Biden’s ability to tell people to go to hell (in a way that has them looking forward to the trip) might be his secret power. [Continue reading…]