Liz Peek: 4 Reasons Biden’s Build Back Better Plan Won’t Work
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President Joe Biden desperately needs a win. He has spent hours trying to jawbone Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., into supporting his $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” bill. Why hasn’t he hauled progressive lawmakers into the Oval Office as well?
Why not sit down with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the head of the uber-liberal caucus that has stymied progress on his bipartisan infrastructure bill? Why no late-night calls to Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist who is clearly the shadow president and who has resisted calls to trim Biden’s monster spending package?
We know why: there’s no point. The progressive wing of his party is immune to persuasion; they are ideologues who, through a bizarre twist of fate, suddenly hold the reins of power in our nation’s capital.
There’s a reason that longtime retired Democrat Congressman Barney Frank often pilloried Sanders for his unwillingness to compromise, saying: “Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments…”
How did this centrist nation fall under the spell of an ultra-Left group that admires Communist regimes like Cuba, loathes Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East and one that does not pay terrorists to kill their enemies – and wants to bring Europe’s cradle-to-grave welfare system to a country that has outperformed those sclerotic nations and offers unparalleled opportunities to all who are willing to work hard?
You can thank the Democrat Establishment, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and former chair of the Black Congressional Caucus James Clyburn, D-S.C., who made a deal with the progressive devil to pick Joe Biden as the presidential candidate in 2020 but gave Bernie Sanders a seat – actually, a throne – at the table.
You can thank Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who dares not cross the progressives in his party, so fearful is he of inspiring a primary attack by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, D-N.Y. Imagine.
And you can thank our liberal media, which helped elect Biden and has gushed over the antics of the “Squad,” never calling them out on their heinous ignorance and immoderate positions. Who are reluctant to challenge progressives’ tendency to conflate Big Government statism with socialism or question their absurd proclamations about Israeli “occupation.” Content to let AOC throw up her hands and declare “I am not the expert on geopolitics” when she has no idea what she is talking about.
Our country is struggling, not to grow or to provide jobs or opportunity, but to keep hold of those values that have made the United States the envy of the world. We need to remind each other of the qualities that have made us great: self-reliance, independence, hard work and ambition. Values that have no place in a progressive regime.
What now? Joe Biden has bit off more than he can chew and is now trying to swallow reality. His visit to Capitol Hill, which many commentators took to signal that Democrats had struck a deal, was a major flop. The bipartisan trillion-dollar infrastructure bill being held hostage by progressives who insist they will not vote for it without getting a vote on their giant “social infrastructure” package is still on hold; Biden’s presence, embarrassingly, changed nothing.
Never has “My way or the highway” been so apt for the uber-liberals in Biden’s party.
Biden is reportedly set to “barnstorm” the country, ready to sell the public on his Build Back Better program, which is likely to cost over $5 trillion and which Democrats cannot figure out how to fund.
It won’t work, for four reasons. One is that Joe Biden’s approval ratings are sinking like a lead plumb; he does not have the power (or the energy) of a popular president. Second, polling shows voters no longer trust Joe Biden. That matters.
Third, the folks he must convince, the so-called “moderates,” come from districts already skeptical about Biden’s massive spending ambitions. Voters think, rightly, that the $5 trillion already spent on COVID relief, to paraphrase Manchin, is enough.
Fourth, and most important, time is against the president. Americans are already worried about inflation. Each day brings new reports of prices going up, confirming those fears. Just this past week the Commerce Department reported that the “core” PCE, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, rose to a 30-year high in August.
In fact, judging from company reports, inflation appears to be accelerating. When Dollar Tree announces that it will hike prices on its traditional line of $1 good to $1.25 or $1.50, it’s time to pay attention.
Meanwhile, the more people find out what’s in the massive spending package, the more Democrats will have to defend goodies given to their voter special-interest groups, like making union dues deductible or $50 million to “grow and diversify the doula workforce.”
They will have to explain why couples making up to $800,000 can get a $7,500 rebate for buying an electric car, or a $12,000 rebate if the auto is made in a union plant. When you’re explaining, you’re losing.
Biden’s presidency will likely soon look a little brighter, thanks to Merck, which is set to provide a medication helpful in curing people sick with COVID-19. At the same time, virus cases are dropping, for which Biden will take credit, though it appears to be the natural trajectory of the delta variant.
Nonetheless, Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the crush of people entering the country illegally, and multiple foreign policy fiascos, have hurt him badly.
But not getting a bipartisan infrastructure bill across the finish line because progressives stand in the way is the ultimate humiliation for a president who famously promised to “work across the aisle.” Biden probably didn’t imagine that it would be his own party, and not Republicans, who might torpedo his agenda.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.