Whatever is left of the Joe Biden competence myth just crumbled away Monday, when the president gave a desperate speech to try to make Republicans help him.
This is the master of Senate negotiation? The guy who said only he could reach across the aisle? Watching President Biden and his team try their hand at politics over the past two weeks, it’s hard not to be reminded of Mets manager Casey Stengel: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
Congress must raise the debt limit by Oct. 18. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly notes that Democrats can raise the limit by themselves, using reconciliation.
Biden, who doesn’t mind using reconciliation for all other kinds of massive spending bills, doesn’t want to do this. Why? Because then Republicans can go into the midterms saying “the Democrats raised the debt limit by a gajillion dollars — they are not the party of fiscal responsibility.”
Biden argues that we’re reaching the debt limit because of money already spent — in bills voted on by both Democrats and Republicans. Fair enough, but the Republicans are taking this stand to point out that the Democrats want to spend trillions more this year.
And besides that, it’s politics. This is what politicians do, which is exactly why Biden himself voted against debt ceiling increases three times when he was in the Senate.
Smart politicians use carrots and sticks to get what they want. Then there’s Joe Biden, whose incentive to Republicans is … nothing. The threat is … nothing. Certainly, Biden’s signature speaking style of coughing and creepy whispers won’t sway anyone.
He’s asking the opposition party not to make him look bad while he gets everything he wants. Why would anyone do that? Republicans have the upper hand here, which is why even swing senators like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins aren’t budging. As McConnell said, “They want to make policy all by themselves. So they can come up with the financing on their own as well.”
President Biden caved to the progressives on the infrastructure bill and will soon cave to the Republicans on the debt ceiling. So much for the brilliant negotiator.
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