Will the Real President of the United States Please Stand Up
You have to hand it to Sen. Bernie Sanders. He lost the Democrats' presidential nomination but won the presidency.
Editor’s note: Today’s column from Bernie is free to all. To listen to his weekly audio commentaries, participate in his weekly Q&A sessions, and read his exclusive columns, make sure you become a paying member (it’s just $5 a month or $43.20 for an entire year!)
You have to hand it to Sen. Bernie Sanders. He lost the Democrats' presidential nomination but won the presidency. Congratulations, Bernie, that’s quite an accomplishment.
Okay, technically he’s not actually the president. But I’m not sure Joe Biden knows that. Biden won the nomination because the smart money figured Bernie couldn’t win the general election since voters would see him as too far left, as out of the political mainstream. So they gave the nomination to the safe candidate, moderate Joe Biden, the Democrat whose centrist politics would bring normalcy back to American politics.
That was the plan, anyway.
But Biden has political debts to pay. Without Bernie’s support, he might not have won; progressives who preferred Sanders might have sat out the election.
So, despite Biden's assurances that he is a middle-of-the-road Democrat, he’s governing like … well, like Bernie Sanders, who has said that Biden could be the most progressive president since Franklin Roosevelt.
First there was the nearly $2 trillion of long-term spending passed as a COVID-19 relief bill just as the crisis was fading -- a bill that was jam-packed with all sorts of progressive goodies that had nothing to do with COVID-19 relief. When ten GOP senators visited the “moderate” president in the Oval Office to offer a few adjustments to the bill, Biden said, in essence, "Thanks but no thanks."
Bernie surely approved of that.
Next will be more multitrillion-dollar bills. One, already out there, is an "infrastructure" bill. But very little of it has to do with actual infrastructure. The rest of the money is earmarked for more progressive treats on the Democrat wish list.
Democrats are still hoping House Resolution 1 will somehow get through the Senate – a bill that they’re selling as a plan “to overcome rampant voter suppression” which targets minorities. Can reparations for the descendants of slavery be far behind? Or adding a few more Democrat-leaning states to the union? Or free tuition at state universities?
Biden's pals on the far left of his party want to pass legislation to pack the Supreme Court, a hyper partisan move that Senator Joe Biden back in 1983 called a "bonehead idea." But that didn't stop him from establishing a commission to study the idea -- another move to appease the progressives who helped him win the election.
This was all Bernie’s agenda – and now it’s Joe’s. Even President Obama must have noticed that Biden is more like Bernie than he, Barack, ever was.
President Biden and Sen. Sanders know they can’t pass a lot of their progressive wish list without nuking the Senate filibuster. In February 2020, when Biden was running for president, he was unequivocal about the filibuster, saying at the time: “[I do] not support ending the filibuster.” But at his first formal news conference, he said the filibuster has been “abused in a gigantic way,” prompting the Wall Street Journal to comment: “Mr. Biden’s flip-flop tells us that Democrats in Congress are preparing to break the 60-vote filibuster rule, and he’ll go along for the ride as he has on everything since Jan. 20.”
Maybe Biden will settle for simply making a few tweaks to the existing filibuster, like turning it back into the old “talking filibuster” that he has said he favors. But it’s a safe bet that Sanders and the other progressives in Congress will pressure the president to come out for killing the filibuster altogether. And he just might “go along for the ride as he has on everything” since he was sworn in.
So far, Sen. Sanders has been keeping a low profile. Except for his trip to Alabama to support what turned out to be an unsuccessful union drive at an Amazon facility, we haven’t really heard much from him lately -- not directly anyway. Maybe that’s because he’s got the “moderate” in the White House doing the talking for him.