by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden has claimed some turf in his battle to leave behind a legacy rivaling former Democratic Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, but his plans to convert pandemic-era programs into permanent ones face hurdles on Capitol Hill.
As top officials are busy touting his overhaul of the Child Tax Credit, which goes into effect this summer, the president who wants to be seen as transformative as the 32nd and 36th chief executives is plowing ahead with an intention to convert pricey emergency COVID-19 programs into permanent federal benefits. There is just one problem: the evenly divided Senate.
The COVID packages were “stuffed” with provisions Democrats hoped to enact whether or not there was a pandemic, but they were able to leverage public health concerns and economic pressure to pass them, said Republican strategist Douglas Heye.
“Similarly, they’re expanding the definition of ‘infrastructure’ to mean anything the Democrats want it to be. It’s a massive expansion in spending and scope, which has nothing to do with why Joe Biden was elected, but Democrats are not letting the COVID crisis go to waste,” Heye told the Washington Examiner. …
… Biden’s bipartisan negotiations may also be complicated by the economy. Already, Biden is facing criticism for lavishing out unemployment insurance, disincentivizing people to return to work. The White House has countered the scrutiny by suggesting employers raise their wages. Likewise, if the economy is performing well, Republicans could argue the measures are unnecessary.
For Brookings Institution governance studies senior fellow Vanessa Williamson, the Democratic political calculus was mixed.
“On the one hand, Americans tend to forget about tax cuts they have received and so do not necessarily reward politicians for cutting their taxes,” she said. “On the other hand, putting extra money in the pockets of working- and middle-class Americans will provide economic stimulus, and a stronger economy traditionally benefits the party of the president.”