Politico: Harris refused to cooperate with Biden on student-loan video

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

File this in the Too Fun to Check category. Kamala Harris reportedly snubbed Joe Biden last month on a key policy effort meant to soothe angry progressives, which would make an already incoherent administration look even worse … if such a thing is possible. Politico reports that Harris is already looking past 2022, 2023, and most of 2024 to her own political future apart from Biden:

Early in April, Vice President KAMALA HARRIS’ office began collaborating with the White House on a social media video to promote the administration’s extension of its pause on federal student loan payments.

Harris’ office then decided against it, according to two White House officials familiar with the matter.

Ultimately, President JOE BIDEN released his own video and Harris issued a statement about the policy. It was a shift from December — the last time the administration extended the pause — when Harris and Biden both filmed social media videos about the extension that came down then and worked with advocates of student debt cancellation.

What happened? Harris worried about her brand, or so it seems:

Privately, Harris has advocated for additional loan forgiveness. One White House source said her office seemed initially eager to participate in the administration’s public dialogue around student loans. But conscious of progressives pushing Biden to unilaterally cancel tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and that Biden is resisting such lobbying, the vice president has been increasingly wary of becoming part of the public face of the administration’s response.

We all know the lay of the land on this issue. Harris’ progressive allies have hammered Biden for inaction on debt forgiveness on student loans. They want full forgiveness, or at least $50,000 as a starting point to reduce the debt load on people who ended up with college degrees. Biden has refused to go higher than $10,000, and has hinted at means-testing even that level. His team worries, and rightly so, that passing the buck on paying off these loans to tens of millions of taxpaying households who didn’t benefit from them would further alienate working-class voters. On that score, Biden’s undoubtedly correct, especially when Republicans start pointing out that progressives like Ilhan Omar will be among the beneficiaries of the funds that working-class households will now provide.

Progressive incoherence on this regressive policy demand is a big problem for Democrats, especially in this midterm cycle. However, Harris’ decision to balk at Biden’s policy choice — and apparently to do so openly within the administration — is even more of an earthquake along the fault lines of the Democratic Party. Biden may be box-office poison in these midterms, but having Harris kneecap him on this makes him look even more impotent. That’s not going to help Democratic candidates anywhere, not even in relatively safe districts.

But it’s especially inexplicable coming from Harris. She owes Biden almost her entire political identity, and certainly whatever gravitas she can muster, as his running mate and VP. To put it mildly, that’s the only claim on gravitas and leadership Harris can make. Harris crashed and burned in a presidential primary cycle practically designed to put her at the top of the ticket, and has revealed herself to be an incompetent dilettante ever since taking office. Her personal appearances produce little more than an embarrassing bounty of word salads.

There’s a reason why her approval ratings are well below Biden’s. Harris had made herself in reality the Dan Quayle that the national media mythologized, and worse. She may be one of the very few Democrats who actually benefit from a connection to Biden. It’s yet another marker of the outer bounds of Harris’ incompetence that she doesn’t recognize or understand that.

Addendum: This is yet another curious leak this week, one bound to produce some speculation. Why is Biden’s White House leaking this about Harris? Spite, or cooperation in Harris’ attempt to distance herself from Biden?