Despite all the big talk from Joe Biden and the insistence from the progressive (see: socialist) wing that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill was non-negotiable, the president is now folding like a wash and wear suit, and I’d suggest things will get even worse for the far-left before this is all over.
Today, Biden told House progressives that the contested spending package needs to be as low as $1.9 trillion.
— Ram Ramgopal (@RamCNN) October 4, 2021
President Joe Biden said in a virtual meeting with a group of House progressives on Monday that the top line of the social safety net package needs to come down to somewhere between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion, according to two sources familiar with the call.
Biden told the group, according to one of the sources, that was the range he felt Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would accept but did not specify further within that range.
I would have loved to have been on that phone call. There’s no way all the progressives took Biden’s downgrade well, especially given the language that’s emanated from the Bernie Sanders wing over the last month. Rep. Pramila Jayapal has been leading that charge but did apparently agree with Biden that getting something was better than nothing. Perhaps that was a veiled shot at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was ranting the opposite just days ago?
The progressives on the call reiterated to the President that they remain supportive of the package and want to pass “as robust a plan as they can” through both houses of Congress, a source familiar with the call said. Another source told CNN that Democrats agreed they need to get consensus on a deal and that “something is better than nothing.”
Biden’s capitulation is a massive drop from the original amount that was being demanded, and while Jayapal may understand that her side has no leverage and needs to make a deal, I don’t expect the “squad” to take things well. Also, does Sanders follow through on his threat to oppose reconciliation if it doesn’t have the top line number he laid out?
In other words, I expect this civil war the Democrats have been fighting to get worse. Manchin, despite Biden moving in his direction, is still indicating that $1.5 trillion is his ceiling, and the Hyde Amendment is now a major point of contention, as well. There are also provisions outside of just the topline cost that Sinema opposes. This is far more complicated than the president just setting a new number. The dirty little secret about Manchin and Sinema is that while they both oppose the current reconciliation bill, they oppose it for different reasons, which makes coming together even more difficult.
Lastly, as I opined earlier today, we have no idea how the harassment and bullying have affected Sinema in regards to what she’s willing to support. I suspect she’s only hardened her opposition, and after Biden failed to defend her today, she has no reason to give him anything he wants. So while Biden’s move is noteworthy, it’s hardly the end of this saga. Get ready for a lot more tears on the left because, for all the big talk and demands, leverage still matters.