Biden Is the Centrist President Everyone Says They Want
What if the debt ceiling negotiations . . . work?
1. Biden Stans
One of the criticisms I often hear about Joe Biden is that he’s a tool of the progressive left who has given them full run of the store.
This doesn’t make a ton of sense! It seems to me that many (most?) lefty progressives are frequently frustrated by Biden because of his tendency to compromise with Republicans and conservative Democrats—as well as his reluctance to wade into the kind of big, structural fights that liberals believe are necessary.1
From where I sit, it looks like Biden is the centrist president everyone always says they want.2
Biden passed the American Rescue Plan that included a lot of spending, but it was short on progressive give-aways and long on help for working families. The Inflation Reduction Act was passed on party line, but was full of spending for rural states. He passed a bipartisan gun reform law that was modest enough to leave gun-reform advocates wanting a lot more. He accomplished a big infrastructure spending law with large-scale Republican support.3 He passed the CHIPS Act to jump-start domestic semiconductor manufacturing with lots of Republican votes. He passed the Respect for Marriage Act with loads of Republican votes, too.
And what do progressives want Biden to do on the debt ceiling? They don’t want him to negotiate with House Republicans. They want him to mint a trillion dollar coin, or use the 14th Amendment, or just steamroll them (somehow).
Here’s Politico with Biden’s message to progressives on this score:
Senior Biden officials have told progressive activists and lawmakers in recent days that they do not see the 14th Amendment — which says the “validity of the public debt” cannot be questioned — as a viable means of circumventing debt ceiling negotiations. They have argued that doing so would be risky and destabilizing, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
Instead, Biden is meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy today to continue negotiations. Ask the progs how that makes them feel.
Look: I don’t know what’s going to happen with the debt ceiling. Maybe there will be no resolution and America will default. Maybe McCarthy’s demands will be so outlandish that they will be designed to trigger a default. Or maybe Biden will refuse to compromise on a reasonable Republican proposal.
Maybe, when he meets with My Kevin today, Biden will take of his aviators, slap a platinum trilly on the table, and yell, “How about that, Jack!” At which point liberals across the land will cheer.
But what if, instead, Biden gets to a compromise with Republicans? Again?