“I think he knows that his legacy will be written in the next two years, his legacy as president, and he is thinking big,” David Axelrod, a former adviser to Barack Obama, said on Tuesday.
The 2020 presidential election gave the Democrats victory, along with an extra comfort: control of the majority of Congress, but by a narrow margin.
And both in the White House and in the corridors of the Capitol, home to the American Legislature, the memories of the last presidents who, just two years after coming to power, lost their legislative majorities in the mid-term elections: Donald Trump in 2018, Barack Obama in 2010, George W. Bush in 2006 and Bill Clinton in 1994.
Faced with this risk, presidents have fundamentally two options: govern more of the center, seeking consensus while protecting their majority or betting everything in an ambitious attempt to carry out major reforms from the beginning, even if they risk losing control of Congress.
19 months from the mid-term elections in 2022, Biden has already made his bet clear: he wants to move quickly with ambitious plans to transform the United States.
The fear is urgent. While Biden – who, at 78, is the oldest president in the United States – says he intends to run for the presidential elections again in 2024, Axelrod believes that the chances of doing so are “quite remote”, he said in the podcast Hacks on Tap, which features along with Republican Mike Murphy.
Biden presents $ 2.3 trillion package focused on infrastructure and job creation
“It is big, yes. It is audacious, yes. And we can do it!”
With that determined tone, Biden on Wednesday presented his plan to invest US $ 2 trillion to invest in American infrastructure in eight years, with the aim of creating “millions of jobs”, fighting climate change and facing a China in rise.
And the announcement came three weeks after his giant plan to stimulate the world’s largest economy and tackle the Covid-19 pandemic – also worth about $ 2 trillion – became law.
The total potential cost of the two plans could exceed Germany’s GDP.
Biden, who does not ignore the mechanisms of Congress – where he spent more than 35 years as a senator -, likes to show himself as a defender of the negotiations, with his hand always extended to the other side.
But the White House has made it clear that it will not hesitate to move forward without Republicans, if necessary.
Judging by the conservatives’ first reactions, the opposition will be strong.
The influential Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, promised on Thursday that he will fight the infrastructure plan “at every step”, arguing that Biden lacks a public mandate for such a vast package.
U.S. President Joe Biden during a nationwide address on a year of the Covid-19 pandemic on Thursday (11) – Photo: AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
So, how does Biden hope to approve his plan?
“Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible,” said Biden to journalists at their first press conference on March 25. It will not be easy.
Democrats, with a tight majority in the House of Representatives, can only afford very few defections. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an experienced strategist, expressed confidence in carrying out the plan in early summer (in the northern hemisphere).
Senate approval, however, will be a more complex challenge. With a small majority, Democrats cannot afford any defection in the House. But taking into account the wide scope and complexity of the plan, tensions have already emerged between the centrist and the party’s progressives.
Democrats’ negotiations will occupy a large part of the coming months, always under the threat of possible costs in the mid-term elections of 2022.
His hope for the time being is that a strong economic recovery, coupled with the possible end of the pandemic will allow him to escape the “curse” of the defeats in these elections.
“The biggest exception to this trend was the mid-term elections in 2002. It was just after the September 11 attacks, a national tragedy that united the country” and allowed Bush-led Republicans to win seats, recalled Miles Coleman, political scientist at the University of Virginia.
“Will Biden and the Democrats be able to avoid the possible half-term punishment? Yes,” he said. But he quickly added: “Should you count on that? Perhaps not, especially considering how narrow the Democratic majorities are now.”
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