Advice to Mr. Biden, from Me

UPDATE:  Biden got the message and walked it back (see below).

While I never wish I were a politician, I have my occasional moments of wishing I could be a presidential adviser.  Right now is one such time.  In my present fantasy, my conversation with our current president would go something like this.

BIDEN:  Well, Ben, I’ve got good news.  We’ve reached a deal with the bipartisan group in the Senate.  Both sides made some major concessions, and eleven Republicans are on board with this deal.

ME:  Congratulations, sir.  What’s the deal?

BIDEN:  Roughly a trillion dollars on infrastructure–the kinds of things the Republicans agree on calling infrastructure, you know, roads, bridges, rail transport, broadband…

ME:  That is good news indeed.  Of course, progressives will be wondering what happened to your other infrastructure proposals, plus the American Families Act.

BIDEN:  Oh, they needn’t worry.  I’m about to issue a statement announcing that I won’t sign the infrastructure bill unless the Democrats also pass my other proposals through budget reconciliation.

ME:  You’re joking, aren’t you, Mr. President?

BIDEN:  Joking?  Of course I’m not joking.  Why do you ask?

ME:  You said a moment ago that both sides made concessions.

BIDEN:  That’s right.

ME:  But Mr. President, I must respectfully ask, how are you making a concession when you’re saying that you’ll only sign the bipartisan deal if you also get everything else that you want in a budget reconciliation bill?

BIDEN:  Ben, I thought you wanted my American Families Act to pass.

ME:  Of course I do, Mr. President.

BIDEN:  Then what’s the problem?

ME:  The problem is, Mr. President, I don’t know how you expect Republicans to go along with the deal if they know that you’re not really conceding on anything.  If you issue that statement, you’ll be letting them know up front that you’re not conceding anything.  May I offer a suggestion, sir?

BIDEN:  Of course you may.

ME:  Keep your mouth shut about the rest of what you want until the infrastructure bill has been passed, and then push for the rest of what you want.  Holding the infrastructure bill hostage isn’t going to do it.  Thing is, while you’re the president, the Republicans’ incentive to pass anything is limited at best, and from their point of view, blocking your “socialist agenda” is more important to them than anything else.  McConnell has come right out and said that.

BIDEN:  Yes, he has.

ME:  So, will you take my advice and not make that announcement?

BIDEN:  I will, Ben, I definitely will.

Of course, we didn’t have that conversation, he did make that announcement, and now he is getting some blowback from the Republicans.

Article in TheHill.com, June 25, 2021.

UPDATE:  Biden got the message and walked it back.  Article in Politico, June 26, 2021.

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