Democrats are now fighting over how Biden's agenda imploded

Democrats are now fighting over how Biden's agenda imploded
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

We recently looked at a few articles from the Associated Press that took an uncharacteristically critical view of some of the Biden administration’s recent misadventures. I wondered at the time if the mainstream media was beginning to reach the point of refusing to provide cover for Biden and the Democrats as they typically did for most of his first year in office. This week another possible example of what might be turning into a trend showed up and it came from NBC News. Looking back on the collapse of the Build Back Better Act (and basically most of Biden’s agenda with it), Sahil Kapur notes that Democrats are now fighting over who is to blame for the abject failure of the bill, and the picture is not a pretty one.

Maybe the Build Back Better Act was destined to fail. Maybe the White House and Democratic leaders misplayed what could have been a winning hand, albeit one with no margin for error, and jeopardized the centerpiece of their agenda.

Or perhaps rank-and-file Democrats, coupled with unanimous Republican opposition, gummed up the deal-making process in a way that Joe Biden the candidate said he was uniquely suited to surmount, but in practice as president could not.

NBC News spoke to more than a dozen people involved with the legislation, and conflicting theories emerged about who is responsible for President Joe Biden’s lost legislative agenda.

NBC is daring to remind everyone of how Joe Biden ran for office on a claim that he was the person who could restore bipartisanship to Washington and get things done. You may recall how many times the talking heads on cable news outlets assured us that “the adults were back in charge” shortly after Biden was sworn in. But it certainly hasn’t looked that way lately.

So who is pointing fingers at whom in terms of “Biden’s lost legislative agenda” this week? Officials from the White House told NBC that the inability of the warring Democratic caucus groups in Congress to come together prevented BBB from becoming a reality. That’s certainly true if all you’re looking at is the math, but who is to blame for that? Certainly not the Senate GOP.

Members of the House Progressive Caucus are blaming Chuck Schumer or Joe Manchin. In some cases, they blame both of them. Other allies of the progressives are saying that the fault lies with their own leadership for agreeing to uncouple the infrastructure bill from the larger BBB behemoth. NBC also reveals that during the entire battle, Chuck Schumer had in his hands a letter from Joe Manchin where he said that would not support a bill costing more than 1.5 trillion and Schumer “never said a damn thing” about it to either the President or the progressive caucus.

Others, particularly among the more moderate Democrats, told NBC that it was Biden’s fault for boasting about how big (and thereby expensive) BBB was or for “trying to placate everyone,” resulting in nobody being happy. A former communications director for Kirsten Sinema was quoted as blaming “the process.” He said that not all Democrats ran on a platform of instituting “big, bold, radical, progressive change,” and they refused to be steamrolled on it. If the Democrats wanted to pass something that huge they should have won more congressional races.

This NBC analysis is an interesting walk down memory lane and the infighting taking place is rather amusing. But at the same time, none of the people involved in this food fight seem to have learned any lessons from it and they’re ignoring what should perhaps be the most obvious explanation of all. Maybe… just maybe… America wasn’t looking for a massive overhaul of our entire society and trillions more in empty spending. And is it possible that some of your Democratic colleagues realized that and suspected they might be tossed out of office in November if they went along with it?

Naw. What was I thinking? A common-sense answer like that certainly can’t be possible, right?

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