Joe Biden’s most important presidential project is on the brink. The Republicans are not to blame, the Democrats of all people. He is running out of time.
Surprisingly little can be heard from the US President this week for the fact that Joe Biden is currently so politically critical. Only at a benefit baseball game of his Democratic congressmen against the Republicans this week was he really public and enthusiastic.
In the real political game, nothing less than the core project of his entire presidency threatens to fail: to make the USA fit for the challenges of the 21st century and the systemic competition with China. It is precisely the irreconcilable wings of his own party to blame for this.
A few hours before midnight, Biden was finally able to sign the law that has been preventing the US shutdown that has been imminent for days. Because parts of the Republicans in the Senate have finally approved a kind of transitional budget, the funding of the federal authorities is now secured at least until December 3rd.
But that was basically just a sensational side-war theater. The two most threatening problems facing the US president are far from over.
Will the US go bankrupt?
On the one hand, there is the debt ceiling, which is relatively unusual worldwide and legally very specific: The USA is likely to tear this ceiling on October 18, with unforeseeable consequences for the entire global economy. Experts warn of distortions that would even be worse than those of the past banking and financial crisis. Unless a solution is found.
But while Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would like to abolish the debt ceiling mechanism altogether, Republicans and two Democratic senators do not even want to raise the ceiling at the moment.
That’s why rumors are already circulating in Washington that Joe Biden could use some strange-looking tricks to circumvent this strict debt limit. For example with the minting of a platinum coin worth 2 trillion dollars or with a kind of emergency law that dates back to the times of the civil war. As unbelievable as that may sound, strategists in the White House deal with scenarios like this. Because no US president will have to answer for the outbreak of another global financial crisis. A few moderate Republicans would probably rather agree than that. However, these options are at least suitable as a threatening scenario.
Biden’s core project in great danger
Domestically, something else is no less explosive. So, of all things, the political heartfelt concern of Joe Biden’s entire presidency threatens to fail, his “Build back better” agenda and his infrastructure package.
Even if it’s not off the table yet: The one trillion dollar infrastructure package failed for the time being here in Washington on Thursday just before midnight. There was no vote in Congress because not enough Democrats voted in the House of Representatives.
With this infrastructure package, bridges, roads, railway lines, airports, train stations, broadband networks, charging stations, electricity and water lines are actually to be renewed and built. All of this is long overdue. The USA last invested a comparable amount in its infrastructure around 15 years ago.
There would be a wafer-thin majority for this law in the Senate. Because on board would also be the two notorious ricochets among the Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Ironically, a few dozen progressive left MPs in the House of Representatives, but this law is currently failing. Led by Bernie Sanders, they only want to agree when they get a guarantee from moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin that he will agree to another crucial investment package from Joe Biden – the so-called “Build back better” agenda. But that would only be guaranteed if both packages came to a vote together as a kind of tandem law.
Democrats blockade in both chambers
With the 3.5 trillion dollars earmarked for the “Build back Better” agenda, Biden and especially the left-wing Democrats want to make childcare and college attendance partly free. Climate change should be combated, health care should be expanded and drug prices should be reduced. They want to counter-finance this with higher taxes (“Tax the rich”) for large companies and for people who earn more than $ 400,000 a year.
Are you really behind Joe Biden? Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin (Source: imago images)
Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona don’t want to go along. That would mean the narrow majority in the Senate would be gone. Instead, Joe Manchin set his own limit on Thursday. He would simply refuse to approve anything that goes beyond $ 1.5 trillion. And then he added another sentence that made many doubt his suitability as a member of the Democrats: “I was never a liberal, in any way, in any form or in any other way.” So if the progressives wanted to spend more money, they would just have to make sure that more liberals were elected.
This broadside is to be understood as a counter-attack against attacks that Manchin has long had to endure from the progressives. The MP from West Virginia also arouses resentment in his own party because he is one of the few Democrats against the abolition of the so-called filibuster rule, with which the Republicans are currently repeatedly failing laws in Congress. But if the Democrats dropped Manchin, their majority in the Senate would be gone. His state of West Virginia, which is dominated by the coal industry, might well be in the hands of the Republicans for a long time to come.
But why does Joe Biden stay in the background like that? In fact, he avoided public appearances this week on the most important topic of his presidency. The fear of failure seems to be too great for him as president to want to use his powder now. No less is at stake for him than his legacy. After all, it was noticed that he did not travel to Chicago on Wednesday as planned to give a speech about the fight against Covid-19.
Joe Biden had conversations with the eternally unruly Joe Manchin in the White House and exchanged views with his economic advisors. But in the foreground act primarily his party colleagues, the speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the majority leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Fighting for President: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Source: imago images)
The two politicians, who are also very experienced, should do the trick of persuading the bitterly quarreling opponents and different currents within their own party to find a compromise. So far they have failed. Negotiations are to continue in Congress on Friday morning, of which no one currently knows how they will end. Many even lack the imagination of how the irreconcilable views could be brought closer together.
But the president needs this success. Because Joe Biden is ailing. Only around 40 percent of the population rate his administration as good. Afghanistan withdrawal, pandemic, inflation and the migration crisis on the border with Mexico are leaving their mark. The tragic thing is that for a long time no democratic president has been able to fall back on an extremely narrow, but still existing majority in both chambers of the Congress. But the gap within the party between left and right has probably never been as great as it is now.
The Congressmen’s baseball charity game that took place this week and where the Democrats played as a team against the Republicans can’t hide that.