Senator Bill Cassidy didn’t hold back during an interview Sunday morning with FNC’s Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. The talk of working with the other side of the aisle is just a whole lot of malarkey coming from Joe Biden and his administration. On a top priority, a COVID relief package, Senator Cassidy told Wallace that the administration never reached out to work with Republicans. Not once.
Cassidy didn’t say it once, he said it twice as Wallace did his usual bidding for Democrats and Joe Biden’s administration. Ten Republican senators have worked together to come up with a more reasonable version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal (the “American Rescue Plan”) pushed out recently by Team Biden. The Republicans are offering up a more palatable package, less financially extravagant than Biden’s legislation. Cassidy said Biden is only offering a “patina of unity” as he speaks of reaching out to Republicans, it’s all talk.
“We’re targeted to the needs of the American people, treating our tax dollars as if they’re our tax dollars not just money to spend,” Cassidy told “Fox News Sunday.” “If you say you want bipartisanship … and then you have a budget reconciliation which is chock-full of payouts to Democratic constituency groups … you don’t want bipartisanship, you want the patina of bipartisanship.”
Cassidy claimed that Biden did not even try to work with his bipartisan group of senators.
“The President’s team did not reach out to anybody in our group, either Democrat or Republican when they fashioned their proposal,” Cassidy said. “So if you want unity, if you want bipartisanship, you ought to start with a group that’s shown it’s willing to work together for a common solution. They did not.”
With Democrats threatening to use reconciliation to get their pork-laden bill rammed through, it is easy to believe Cassidy’s claim. As a matter of fact, Jared Bernstein, a member of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, was also a guest on Wallace’s show Sunday morning and he freely admits that the administration doesn’t care about bi-partisan support for the stimulus package. “Look, the American people really couldn’t care less about budget process, whether it’s regular order, bipartisanship, whether it’s filibuster, whether it’s reconciliation.” People “need relief and they need it now.” That sounds a lot like Rahm Emanuel’s motto of never let a crisis go to waste, right? Bernie Sanders is making the rounds, too, claiming that Democrats have the votes needed to pass Biden’s legislation using reconciliation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will be heading the Senate Budget Committee, has said that Democrats can push their relief plan through the budget without Republicans via a process known as reconciliation. That process, which is reserved for tax and fiscal matters, is not subject to the filibuster and therefore allows for Democrats to pass their plan with their 50 senators and Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
“If Republicans are willing to work with us to address that crisis, welcome – let’s do it,” Sanders told CNN last Sunday. “But what we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months to go forward. We’ve got to act now.”
Bernstein said that Biden is “willing to negotiate” with Republicans, as a group of 10 GOP senators announced support Sunday for a $600 billion package, but claimed that part of why it is so urgent to pass relief is to avoid a spike in unemployment.
Bernstein told Wallace that he had only just seen the proposal by the ten Republican senators right before he began their interview. He is most concerned about the need for speed to get the package passed as soon as possible. He sites the potential job losses if the legislation isn’t passed, which is ironic given the jobs that Biden has already destroyed through many of the executive orders and actions he’s signed in to place in a little more than a week in office.
“If we don’t get this package as designed out the door quickly, we risk having four million fewer jobs at the end of this year,” he said, citing Moody’s, adding that failure to act swiftly would “risk taking a year longer to get to full employment.”
There are areas of agreement between Biden and the Republican senators.
“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” they wrote. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”
Cassidy said direct coronavirus relief payments need to be more targeted.
“Above a certain income level, that money’s not spent … doesn’t stimulate the economy,” he said.
Cassidy, along with Senate Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina sent a letter with their proposal to Biden with a $160 billion pledge to fund vaccinations and includes $20 billion “to get kids back to school.” I’ll note that Senator Portman was a guest on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday and he, too, says that Biden hasn’t reached out to Republicans about his stimulus legislation.
Talk about wanting unity and civility is fine but it’s a sham. The country is too divided and the parties have dug in on ideological grounds. From the sounds of it, Team Biden isn’t even bothering to work with more moderate Republicans who may be willing to work with the administration in order to get work done. Biden is off to a bad start, exposing his intention to push a my-way-or-the-highway way of governing, just like Obama did. The Obama-Biden administration split Americans apart, creating the atmosphere that produced the Trump presidency. Whether or not Biden learns lessons from the past is yet to be seen. So far, he’s shown no desire to do anything but let his authoritarian freak flag fly.