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Biden Needs to Be a Leader

Another deadline is looming for Joe Biden’s economic agenda. And before he left for Europe, he met with Democrats in Congress to hammer out the details and seek passage of two bills that define his presidency. Yet, for weeks the ambitious Build Back Better bill and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have been held hostage by bickering Democratic factions.

On one side you have Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kysten Sinema (D-UT), who have been whittling the cost of the bill down to exclude certain provisions they found unfavorable. On the other a group calling themselves Progressives; a group of 95 Democrats in the House of Representatives and one Democratic senator. Between them, they have ground President Biden’s agenda to a screeching halt.

Biden has held numerous meetings, negotiated, cajoled and compromised in order to get these bills passed. Each time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to bring it to the House floor because she knew she lacked the votes to guarantee passage of both pieces of legislation. Either those on the Senate side refused, where Democrats hold a slim majority, would object to certain provisions, thus guaranteeing the measure would fail, or Progressives would insist that they wouldn’t go along unless both were passed in tandem.

Like his predecessor, Biden sees himself as a master deal maker. Unlike the former resident of Pennsylvania Avenue, Biden prefers compromise over bullying. Yet, with each passing day, and lack of progress, Biden is watching his approval ratings drop due to his inability to close the desk on his signature agenda items.

Not only does this make Biden appear weaker, but it also gives Republicans fodder as they aim to retake both the House and Senate during the 2022 midterm elections. So Manchin, et al aren’t doing Democrats, or themselves, any favors by refusing to pass these bills. They are only giving air to the nickname the “Do Nothing Democrats” that was bestowed upon them during the Trump administration.

It’s time for Joe Biden to stop compromising and start leading. Instead of caving to the demands of a few stubborn members of his party, he needs to use the power of his office to ensure the will of the majority is heard. Threaten to withhold DNC funding, start looking for opponents to challenge them come re-election time and abandon the filibuster, which has been used by Republicans to stymie efforts by Democrats when they are in the minority.

Despite their numerous flaws, the Republicans have one thing Democrats lack: unity. It is a unity borne out of fear; fear that they will face retaliation if they don’t toe the party line. It’s a tactic Biden should selectively emulate when push comes to shove. Otherwise, he will have bill after bill held up, not by a filibuster, but by those within his own party who seek to push their own private agendas.

Biden needs to become a leader.

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