Opinion: It’s Been Six Months Since Biden Took Office. Here’s How He Stands.

Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post 

President Joe Biden

PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS BEEN IN OFFICE FOR SIX MONTHS. Despite right-wing media’s effort to portray him as a doddering socialist – If he is so feeble, is there really a socialist threat? – his approval ratings remain strong – 58 percent in the most recent CBS/YouGov poll. THERE IS GOOD REASON FOR THE HIGH MARKS. 

Biden has exceeded expectations among progressives, more centrist Democrats and many non-MAGA Republicans on several fronts. Despite the emergence of the delta variant, his management of the vaccination program was commendable and arguably the most “whole of government” response to a crisis outside wartime in decades. We are now mostly down to the willfully unvaccinated. That success in turn has allowed the economy to begin roaring back, albeit with a flash of inflation.         

His Cabinet is diverse, competent and capable of advancing his robust domestic agenda. His judicial nominees are impressive and also remarkably diverse in gender, race and background. 

Meanwhile, Biden excels as the mourner – and comforter-in-chief. The tone of the White House including the briefing room is infinitely improved. No crank coronavirus cures, insults and gaslighting from this crew.

Biden has arguably made more progress by getting both the American Rescue Plan and the $250 billion Innovation and Competition Act than one would have expected with a 50-50 partisan split in the Senate. If he gets through his bipartisan infrastructure bill and reconciliation package — both of which are chock-full of popular measures, including tax increases for the super-rich and an end to corporate tax gamesmanship — he will have accomplished more in his first year in office than any president since perhaps Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

On foreign policy, Biden has succeeded in reaffirming and repairing, especially with regard to the U.S. relationship with the European Union and NATO. He has begun to rebuild the defense of universal human rights, a strong pillar of our national security. He restored America’s international stature by rejoining the Paris accord and the World Health Organization. And he sanctioned Russia and called out China for cyberattacks. Critics argue he could have been tougher on both, but the groveling before dictators has ended, thankfully. 

THERE ARE ALSO THE THINGS BIDEN DID NOT DO THAT SOME OBSERVERS FEARED. He did not automatically rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. He is not interested in packing the Supreme Court. He has not interfered with the day-to-day decision-making in the Justice Department – more on that later. He has issued a fleet of executive orders but has not usurped Congress by, for example, trying to ban assault weapons or expand background checks absent legislation. Restraint is an underappreciated quality in a president. 

Nevertheless, there are worrying developments. Many of these are works-in-progress, but if there is not some course correction, his agenda will suffer. 

Most important, his decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan – rather than leave a small military force behind – will prove disastrous if terrorists reconstitute themselves, posing a threat to the United States and its allies, and if Afghan women’s rights are obliterated. The signs so far are not positive.   

His hands-off approach to the Justice Department and selection of Attorney General Merrick Garland has, to the dismay of many Law-and-Order, Never Trumpers and Democrats, resulted in neither prosecutions of the former president and his senior staff nor any comprehensive review of the department’s conduct over the past four years. Refusing to hold former government officials accountable is a mistake and an invitation for future abuses. Fortunately, the inspector general is looking into discrete subjects, but this is no substitute for a full review. Garland still has time to consider a range of charges against the former president and his senior advisers if the facts and the law warrant; the question is whether he has the will. 

On voting rights, Biden has said the right things. Garland has filed one lawsuit against Georgia and vowed to double the Justice Department’s civil rights staff. But there has been no full-throttled attempt to pursue possible charges against those who allowed phony auditors to despoil ballots and voting machines in Arizona. Given that the Supreme Court has largely tied Garland’s hands, new legislation is the only real remedy. Still, there is no visible strategy for obtaining voting reforms or to prevent Republican schemes to flip election results. If Biden is slowly cajoling Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) to work around the filibuster, then the president’s refusal to publicly address the Senate procedure may be understandable. But if Biden fails to pass voting protections and never makes a pitch for filibuster “reform”, the backlash will be fierce and deserved. 

RIGHT-WING ATTEMPTS TO BLAME BIDEN FOR THE SURGE IN MIGRANTS IS ABSURD AND COUNTERFACTUAL. Nevertheless, the administration was unprepared for the situation at the border. Having been put back on its heels, it now declines to take credit for what amounts to a humanitarian rescue operation for thousands of children. The bobble over the refugee cap was another miscue.

FINALLY, Biden may have been too nice. In backing off additional funding for the IRS to raise more revenue in the bipartisan infrastructure deal, he has allowed Republicans to not only break their word but defend tax cheating. That is worth a public scolding. Granted, Biden is trying to lower the temperature and return to bipartisan deal-making, but he should not permit Republicans to escape vocal condemnation at critical moments.

ON BALANCE, THE POSITIVE CERTAINLY OUTWEIGHS THE NEGATIVE. And compared with a hypothetical second term for his predecessor, his performance is magnificent. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement — and only so much time before the midterm election cycle.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/26/2021 at 2:21 am

    The Republicans Have Already Given Biden What He Needs

    GOP senators may have blocked the infrastructure agreement they negotiated, but the president may still win.

    By Russell Berman | The Atlantic

    THE MUCH-BALLYHOOED BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE AGREEMENT WAS ALWAYS A SHAKY PROPOSITION.

    When President Joe Biden announced the accord last month — “We have a deal,” the beaming president proclaimed outside the White House, flanked by 10 beaming senators — all the negotiators had agreed to was an outline, a three-page sketch of how to spend $1.2 trillion on roads, bridges, rail, and broadband, and a list of “options” of how to pay for it. They hadn’t figured out any of the details, much less written an actual bill.

    SO IT WASN’T A BIG SURPRISE THAT THE FIRST TEST VOTE ON THE INFRASTRUCTURE AGREEMENT FAILED IN THE SENATE.

    Republicans blocked debate on the proposal, defying a bid by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hurry negotiators along by bringing the unfinished bill to the floor. Even those Republican senators who have spent weeks defending the deal voted in opposition, upset at what they considered to be Schumer’s heavy-handed tactics.

    THE SETBACK DOES NOT NECESSARILY DOOM THE AGREEMENT; Schumer could still bring up the proposal again if and when it’s ready, which senators in both parties say could be as soon as next week. But the failure makes it more likely that Democrats move on to their top priority:

    The passage of a far larger, $3.5 trillion budget package that represents the bulk of Biden’s economic agenda. That would surely be fine with progressives, and probably with the White House as well.

    BIDEN WANTS THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE AGREEMENT SO HE CAN DELIVER ON HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE THAT HE WOULD BE A DEALMAKER WHO COULD BRING THE WARRING PARTIES TOGETHER.

    That’s why the president made the audacious gamble of pursuing, simultaneously, the modest bipartisan bill with Republicans and the gigantic, legacy-building legislation with Democrats — the legislative equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

    THE TWO PROPOSALS ARE MOVING ON SEPARATE BUT SOMEWHAT INTERSECTING PATHS IN THE SENATE:

    The bipartisan bill would be subject to the filibuster and thus require at least 10 Republican votes to pass, while Democrats are pursuing their broader expansion of social programs through the process of budget reconciliation that needs only a majority of 51, including the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

    That second package includes such big-ticket items as paid family leave, universal pre-kindergarten, augmented Medicare benefits, policies to tackle climate change, and an extension of the child tax credit.

    Passage of both would represent a towering achievement by the standards of modern Washington, where grand ambitions of transformative policies usually go to die. The risk, of course, is that both attempts collapse, and Biden is left with only the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to show for his all-important first year in office.

    REPUBLICANS HAD MADE THEIR OWN BET IN STRIKING THE INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL WITH DEMOCRATS AND THE WHITE HOUSE.

    They thought that by agreeing to a limited amount of new spending on projects that would benefit their constituents — everyone loves roads and bridges — they could appease moderate Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, peeling them away from Biden’s far more ambitious spending plans.

    BACKING A SMALL BILL WOULD GIVE REPUBLICANS COVER TO OPPOSE THE REST OF BIDEN’S AGENDA WITHOUT BEING LABELED AS OBSTRUCTIONIST.

    The ensuing failure of the bigger reconciliation package would anger and depress the Democrats’ progressive base, resulting in a political win for Republicans.

    That was the idea, at least. But Manchin and Sinema have confounded those plans by going along — at least so far — with Biden’s dual-track strategy, keeping alive the president’s hopes of enacting what would be the largest investment in government programs in decades. Neither has balked at the proposed $3.5 trillion price tag, which is itself a significant reduction of an initial offering from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who chairs the Budget Committee.

    The infrastructure agreement has divided Republicans MORE THAN Democrats, exposing just how difficult it is to get the modern GOP to coalesce behind any fiscal plan not named “TAX CUTS”.

    Conservatives, already opposed to giving Biden even the smallest share of a legislative victory, have rallied against a proposal to pay for the infrastructure spending in part by beefing up the IRS so that it can collect more unpaid taxes from the wealthy and from businesses.

    This is the lowest of hanging fruit when it comes to tax policy: Rather than raise tax rates, the senators are proposing merely to have the government enforce existing tax laws more stringently. But it’s still too much for the right, which sees the IRS as a bureaucratic bogeyman. Under pressure from Republicans, the bipartisan group dropped the tax-enforcement plan and is struggling to find other acceptable pots of money to replace it.

    As much as Biden would love Republican votes for the infrastructure plan, he wants the roads and bridges even more. If the GOP senators won’t seal the deal they struck or dawdle too long in finishing it, Democrats are already planning to take the bipartisan infrastructure framework and add it to their own $3.5 trillion measure.

    That’s the leverage Schumer is using by forcing an early vote on the bipartisan proposal; Democrats don’t want to repeat the mistake they made in President Barack Obama’s first year in office, when they allowed Republicans to drag out negotiations over a health-care bill for months and squandered the new president’s political capital.

    Schumer has said he wants to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a resolution teeing up the broader Democratic budget package before the Senate leaves for its annual August recess. Under the premise that little in Washington gets done without a deadline, the majority leader set the initial procedural vote on the infrastructure agreement for today even though Republicans begged for more time.

    “It is not an attempt to jam anyone,” Schumer insisted this morning. But his message was clear. If Republicans hold out too long on the agreement they negotiated, the Democrats will go it alone.

    Key to this backup plan is the same pair of moderate Democratic senators who have held sway all year in the closely divided chamber: Manchin and Sinema. They forced Biden to pursue a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, and he did. With today’s vote, they will see — and can tell their constituents — that it was the Republicans who stopped it from advancing.

    Bipartisanship in politics, like infrastructure, is a hazy concept, its parameters subject to interpretation. If Democrats incorporate the compromise framework into their own bill and pass it over the howls of the GOP, Biden won’t get the bipartisan bill-signing that once represented the true test of cross-party collaboration. But Republicans will already have given him the gift he wanted when they joined him outside the White House to announce their agreement last month.

    THAT TABLEAU OF SMILING SENATORS, HALF REPUBLICANS AND HALF DEMOCRATS, WAS ALL THE BIPARTISANSHIP BIDEN NEEDED.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/26/2021 at 4:37 pm

    “…………….. Democrats don’t want to repeat the mistake they made in President Barack Obama’s first year in office, when they allowed Republicans to drag out negotiations over a health-care bill for months and squandered the new president’s political capital.”

    The foregoing, says it ALL – President Biden with Senate Leader Schumer will NOT allow Moscow Mitch and his thugs, to do to them AGAIN what they already did to President Obama, VP Biden and Schumer – the last time around ….

    Once Bitten – Twice Shy!!

    I was watching the Full Moon in the morning the other day and thought:

    Moon a-run – ’till Day a-catch ‘um!!

    He can run, but He can’t hide, said the boxer, Joe Louis – The Brown Bomber.

    That old saying comes to mind: “Interesting Times!”

    • Brother Man  On 07/26/2021 at 6:06 pm

      This old boy Clyde needs to calm down and watch his blood pressure. He’s fussing too much about the cesspool called America. Surely there must some good-tasting Canadian whiskey around in Vancouver.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/27/2021 at 12:24 am

    Brother Man: I live in a safe place. Effective, 01 July 2021, I could go any where – if I don’t want to wear a mask, I don’t have to. However, I still do, because I feel it is insane to get on a bus without a mask.

    I do not use the bus – but, the requirement to wear a mask on-board was lifted.

    If you showed up here, you could walk into a clinic and be vaccinated – no questions asked. We used to have to make an appointment after receiving a number – that requirement has been eliminated. Just walk in ….

    By the way, the man that is responsible for keeping this piece of real estate out of the hands of the USA is Guyana-born, Sir James Douglas. There is a statue at his birthplace at Mahaica, Demerara. You may have seen it and asked: “Who is he?”

    Well, there is a statue – made from the same mould – up here at the birthplace of British Columbia, Historic Site Fort Langley. To this day, people walk by the statue up here and ask: “Who is he?”

    I don’t live very far from the USA-Canada Border – when the border is reopened, all that stuff that is floating around down there, will find its way up here. That would be a source of concern, at that time.

    I believe Canadians are good neighbours. We pay attention to what is happening.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/27/2021 at 1:42 am

    POLITICO reports:

    Schumer also challenged Republicans over whether they would “follow the absurd demands of a disgraced former president” and abandon the deal. He called on the GOP to “ignore former President Trump,” who asked Republicans to drop discussions with Democrats altogether.

    As bipartisan negotiators aim to finalize an agreement, Trump said that Senate Republicans “are being absolutely savaged by Democrats on the so-called ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure bill” and urged them to wait until they take back the Senate in 2022 to “regain a strong negotiating stance.”

    Trump tried unsuccessfully to cut a deal with Democrats on infrastructure during his presidency, sidelining negotiations once his impeachment investigation began.

    Schumer’s urgency and Trump’s taunts reflect a state of negotiations more dire than it’s been in a month, so much so that the GOP sent out a list of areas where that Democratic offer broke from previous agreements among the bipartisan senators writing the bill on Monday afternoon.

    It is the latest in a running list of bleak signs for the talks ahead of another pivotal week of negotiations in the Senate.

    “It all seems easy until you get to the final details and they’re never as easy as you think they’re going to be,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

    Although the bipartisan group and the White House announced an agreement last month on a bipartisan framework, translating it into legislative text is proving difficult.

    Schumer wants to pass the bipartisan bill and begin the process for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package before the Senate leaves for the August recess.

  • JoE  On 07/27/2021 at 3:34 pm

    The Americans don’t deserve too much of my energy. Waste of time. However, for me..Biden is wily and is operating in the old framework of what he knew. Fine to try and play nice with the Republicans who frankly are beyond redemption except for a handful..but most tellingly for me..he’s still the Ugly American in his foreign policy against countries like Cuba, Iran and China where for he maintains the same imperialist stance that is the hallmark of white male America’s assumed hegemony over the globe. Just think how little the USA does for the poor in Central America and Latin America. And think of the mindset that says zippo about Palestinian rights and shores up another bully boy in the Middle East, Israel with billions of dollars. I saw a program where the Israelis used up the water from the Jordan River and the Red Sea and now are trying to desalinate the Dead Sea with a view to being able to supply water to Palestinians (whose supply was diverted over decades for Israeli use) as the price of obeisance. Include the weaponry that bedevils humanity over the globe and connect the dots back to the violence endemic to the American spirit.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/28/2021 at 12:04 am

    TRUMP-BACKED CANDIDATE LOSES IN TEXAS SPECIAL ELECTION

    State Rep. Jake Ellzey Will Head To Congress After Defeating Trump-Endorsed wife of deceased, Ron Wright – Susan Wright, In A Runoff Featuring Two GOP Candidates.

    Jake Ellzey Defeated Susan Wright In A Republican-Vs.-Republican Special Election Runoff To Fill A Vacant House Seat In Texas.

    GOP Rep. Ron Wright of Texas died in February after a battle with coronavirus.

    Last updated July 27, 2021, 7:21 p.m. PD

    Some pundits are calling this a shot across the bow – in Texas – NO LESS.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/29/2021 at 8:43 am

    POLITICO Playbook
    The Unofficial Guide To Official Washington.

    Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL wants to flip the chamber in 2022. But one potential obstacle keeps coming up time and again:

    Multiple DONALD TRUMP-inspired candidates who might sweep their GOP primaries but go on to lose in the general election.

    TAKE GEORGIA: While Trump all but begged NFL legend HERSCHEL WALKER to run against Democratic Sen. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, McConnell views Walker’s complicated personal history as a vulnerability. A recent AP story detailed Walker’s record of threatening and violent behavior — including once allegedly holding a pistol to his then-wife’s head and threatening to “blow [her] f—ing brains out.”

    But their troubles don’t stop with the Peach State:

    — IN MISSOURI, former Gov. ERIC GREITENS is hugging Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election in hopes of winning the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. ROY BLUNT’s seat. But Greitens also has major vulnerabilities: In 2018, he was forced to resign after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman, tying her up and taking nude photos of her in order to blackmail her into silence. If he wins the primary, senior Republicans worry that they can kiss goodbye what should be a safe seat.

    — IN PENNSYLVANIA, Republicans are similarly worried about the crop of GOP hopefuls looking to succeed Sen. PAT TOOMEY. None of the major Republican candidates have ever been elected to public office, and every one of them lags behind the race’s top Democrats in fundraising, as the Philly Inquirer recently reported.

    — IN ARIZONA, Democratic Sen. MARK KELLY has a formidable fundraising war chest, and the Republican Gov. DOUG DUCEY — whom folks here in Washington see as most electable — is thus far sitting on the sidelines as Trump vows never to endorse him, while several Trumpian Mini-Mes jump into the race.

    SO WHAT TO DO? – IF ANYTHING? – HERE’S WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING … Earlier this year, McConnell said he would back candidates who can win, signaling his willingness to put his thumb on the scale in 2022.

    After the 2010 and 2012 cycles, when GOP candidates like CHRISTINE (“I’M NOT A WITCH”) O’DONNELL and TODD (“LEGITIMATE RAPE”) AKIN spurred national mockery of Republicans, the NRSC started stepping in to boost the strongest GOP candidates and kneecap those who could snag the nomination but tank the party.

    But Sen. RICK SCOTT (R-Fla.), who now chairs the NRSC, has been very clear that he has no intention of meddling in 2022’s primaries. Scott, we’re told, remembers his first gubernatorial run in 2010, when the Republican Governors Association backed his primary opponent, BILL MCCOLLUM, over him. Ever since, he has felt strongly that GOP voters should choose whom they want — much to the chagrin of some institutional Republicans.

    Defenders of Scott’s hands-off approach argue that wading into primaries simply doesn’t work, and point to the NRSC’s recent history spending a ton of time and money backing people like Georgia Sen. KELLY LOEFFLER over then-Rep. DOUG COLLINS and losing the seat to Warnock, or Sen. LUTHER STRANGE in Alabama while boxing out MO BROOKS — yet still somehow leaving room for ROY MOORE to clinch the nomination. Moore, who was accused of sexual molestation, lost the seat to Democrat DOUG JONES.

    “Chairman Scott has made clear that the NRSC will not spend one minute attacking other Republicans,” NRSC spokesperson CHRIS HARTLINE said in a statement. “We’ve focused all of our attention on attacking and defining these radical Democrats from Day 1. And we’re not going to stop.”

    That means meeting with candidates like Walker, who we’re told has spoken with Scott multiple times about his interest in running for Senate.

    To be fair, all it takes for a GOP majority is FLIPPING ONE SEAT. And we could still see McConnell and his political team — which didn’t respond to our requests for comment — get involved where the NRSC doesn’t.

    But with such a narrow path, and with the calendar hurtling ever closer to 2022, the whispers among Republicans are growing, and every race that comes into play will cost money and time — making their path to the ONE SEAT majority more difficult still.

    • Chris  On 07/29/2021 at 3:46 pm

      Some of you have a sick obsession with that madmen – who should be in an institution for treatment. Get over yourselves! Or get help!

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