by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden, or whoever is pulling the strings, has an ambitious agenda. Too ambitious in a well-functioning democracy for a president who squeaked into the White House and whose party holds only half of the Senate seats. There is no mandate for the kind of sweeping change Biden and his handlers desire.
One can debate whether ours is a well functioning democracy, but I hope it still functions well enough to prevent the kind of radical change the Democrats are pushing for. I believe it probably will, for the next two years at least.
On the face of things, the filibuster is the obstacle to the Democrats’ radical agenda. As long as it’s permitted, the Democrats are quite limited in what they can get through the Senate.
The miracle of reconciliation enabled them to pass the latest coronavirus virus relief bill (which was about much more than just relief from the economic effects of the virus). And it might enable them to pass some sort of major infrastructure legislation.
I believe, however, that the Democrats’ view on the proper magnitude of coronavirus relief was more popular with voters than the Republicans’ view. This certainly seemed to be the case in Georgia. So it’s hard to indict our democracy over the passage of the Dems’ version.
As for infrastructure legislation, it’s worth remembering that this is something Donald Trump supported. Thus, bipartisan support for such legislation exists (though I can’t say I’m a fan). Only mistrust and the inability of the parties to work together stand in the way of passing some form of it.
Again, therefore, we shouldn’t get too worked up if it’s enacted via reconciliation.
Many other aspects of Biden’s agenda do not enjoy the clear support of the electorate. Fortunately, they are quite unlikely to be deemed proper subjects for reconciliation.