The contrast in approaches between the White House and the GOP encapsulates the risky bet that each has adopted at what is beginning to look like a tumultuous and potentially decisive turning point in the political history of the early 21st century.
In the country’s relentless march through the next biennial election cycle, each side is making choices now that will provide the foundation of their strategies in 2022 and 2024 elections in which Trumpism and Bidenism will again be on the ballot in some form.
But he chose a traditional backdrop, an aging bridge, to argue for tax raises on corporations and the wealthiest Americans to fund vital projects — a centerpiece of his plan. He also offered some flexibility on the scale of a hike to corporate rates — as he tries to get GOP senators on board — hinting he may settle for a 25% ceiling instead of his initial bid for 28%.
“I’m not ready to have another period where America has another infrastructure month, and doesn’t change a damn thing,” Biden said at a highway bridge that carries I-10 in Lake Charles.
“The truth is, across the country, we have failed — we have failed to properly invest in infrastructure for half a century.”
The plan is an apt symbol of a presidency rooted in fixing problems that makes a bet that after a murderous pandemic, Americans have arrived at one of the periodic moments in history when they are willing to endorse the sweeping use of government power to ease social and economic deprivation.
The strategy requires Biden to open a narrow path through tiny Democratic majorities in the House and Senate — which isn’t guaranteed. And if he has misjudged the public mood, he could risk a public backlash that could benefit Republicans next year.
Republicans fixated on personality cult loyalty tests
The total embrace of Trump by House Republicans represents a counter-wager on the scale of the President’s belief that Americans want a multi-trillion dollar overhaul of society designed to make the economy more equitable for working class Americans.
Given the popularity of Trump among GOP base voters and their willingness to buy into the false reality he created over last year’s election, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s strategy could work, as he seeks to wrest control of the House next year in midterm elections that may be decided by whichever party manages to excite their core voters.
McConnell launches his own maneuvers
McConnell’s attitude recalled a similar stance he took against former President Barack Obama’s presidency. It may also reflect insight from Biden — a longtime sparring partner — about the gravity of the current political moment. While Republicans in the House are almost exclusively positioning for the midterms already, McConnell, with his chamber’s institutional capacity to serve as a roadblock, is also concentrating on shorter-term efforts to thwart Biden’s transformational aspirations.
But McConnell may also have offered the President an opening to argue that Washington Republicans spurned his offer of compromise on key issues like infrastructure and his plans targeting American jobs and families.
His remarks also immediately trained attention back on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is a bulwark against the power of progressives in the party and wants compromise with minority Republicans on big Biden agenda items.
Manchin said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Wednesday night that he didn’t know what McConnell’s reasoning was but insisted “there are Republicans working with Democrats who want to make something happen.”
Building on Trump’s election fraud lies
The Texas state House, meanwhile, debated a Republican bill that would limit extended early voting hours, give partisan poll watchers more authority and make it tougher to cast a vote in city areas where Democratic voters live.
The fact that DeSantis is so willing to use the electoral system — the core of US political freedoms — as a prop to advance his own political career shows why some pundits believe he has the brazenness needed to serve as an heir to Trump — a figure whose power still looms over Washington despite his departure for Florida more than three months ago.