Sunday, February 7, 2021

Where is Biden's Bipartisanship?

 There are many concepts and activities that we understand, but yet we have difficulty defining. 

In 1964, Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart in an attempt to define pornography and obscenity stated that ‘…I know it when I see it.’   Indeed, this phrase has been embedded in pop culture and is used in circumstances far removed from it’s initial prurient reference.

How would one define bipartisanship?  If a bill passes with the votes of 100% of one political party and captures only 1 or 2 votes of the opposition, can the outcome fairly be regarded as bipartisan?  How much support from the other side must exist before the ‘B-word’ can be invoked?  While I don’t have a precise threshold in my mind on this issue,  I don’t think that just a couple of votes is sufficient.

Joe Biden was elected in part because of his promise to pursue unity and bipartisanship.  How many times have we all heard about his decades of reaching across the aisle?  He pledged to us during his campaign, and reiterated forcefully in his inaugural address that he will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.

'I give you my word as a Biden.'  Hmm...

I suggest that there is a widening gap between President Biden’s performance and his prior pledges.  He has issued dozens of executive actions with more to come despite telling us in the campaign that he opposed the overuse of this technique.  It's always edifying to monitor how folks’ views ‘evolve’ when they are governing and no longer campaigning.  (Think of all those candidates who campaigned for term limits until they were elected.)

I am disappointed that President Biden has basically shut out the Republicans in the crafting of his $1.9 billion stimulus bill.  First, there are real policy disagreements on his proposed bill even among Democrats.  Larry Summers, a top economist in the Obama administration, has publicly stated his concerns on the economic risks of the plan.  Ten serious Republicans – not partisan bomb throwers – came to the White House to share their views on the issue with president.  Clearly, this was for show as the Democrats have been racing alone and in lockstep to ram the bill through using the reconciliation process, a mechanism to pass the bill without the need for a single GOP vote.  Couldn't they have pursued a bipartisan compromise first?  The Democrats didn't even to through the motions of consultations here making clear that a partisan victory was their modus operandi.

Is this what we can expect henceforth?

What happened to the unity thing?  The stimulus bill was such a ripe opportunity for the Biden team to make good on their campaign promises to us.  There was a deal to be made here, or at least attempted in good faith.

What is unity?  I’ll know it when I see it, and this isn’t it.






  1. The EO's from Biden are a response to all the EOs from Trump. This of course is in response to EOs from Obama which were in response to gridlock.

    The challenge with the current COVID bill is that Biden wants 1.9 trillion while the repubs want a 618 million dollar bill. While there may be some issues around the margins (i.e. 15 dollar minimum wage, etc) that are negotiable my sense is that Biden and co. feel that this is what is needed and the repubs don't. This isn't some meet in the middle at 1.2 trillion.

  2. @PICU, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I'm not suggesting that the two sides 'split in down the middle'. But, I do think that the issue really screams for the bipartisanship that many in the nation ache for. The two sides weren't against each other as they might be on gun control or abortion. They both favored financial support, but to different extents. In other words, they were both looking in the same direction. This just seems so contrary to how he campaigned and how he spoke to the nation on inauguration day. At least he could have tried to collaborate with GOP and test them. If they stiffed armed him, then he could push ahead solo as he is planning to do this Fri. MK