8 March 2021

NOTE FROM NORM: Still Not Too Late To Be Bipartisan

President Joe Biden’s commitment to find bipartisan compromise to pass an economic stimulus bill to help Americans most negatively impacted by the global pandemic found its way to failure the same way Barack Obama’s commitment to find bipartisan compromise on health care reform failed:  Capitulation to the extreme left of the Democratic Party.

Certainly, much will be made of Senator Joe Manchin’s valiant efforts to bring some modicum of commonsense to the recently passed $1.9 trillion bag of goodies packed with treats to the party’s “progressive” squeaky wheels.

Increasingly left out of his party’s rapidly ascending tilt further left one wonders at what point Manchin, along with others in the Democratic Caucus, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, will realize that their political home is on the other side of the aisle.

But Biden’s broken promise to harness bipartisanship in his first major piece of legislation does not mean there will not be, or should not be, an opportunity to find bipartisan cooperation in other areas.

In foreign affairs, for example, there ought to be a way for Democrats and Republicans to work together to confront the growing threat of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and other belligerent nations.  The hallmark of bipartisanship in America for decades lay in our belief that American political and policy cohesion was bedrock once we left our shores and arrived on the shores of foreign lands.

On the minimum wage, there is already an opportunity given the leadership of Republican Senator Mitt Romney and others in the caucus to work with Democrats to pass a meaningful, impactful, and responsible increase that benefits workers but does not cripple small businesses.

Whether the President buckles to the extremism of Bernie Sanders and his counterparts in the United States House on this issue remains to be seen.  If he does, and Democrats insist on pounding through a minimum wage increase that is not supportable by simple economic theory not only will we see thousands of small businesses wither and die on the vine, but so too will the millions of jobs they create each year in our country.

Elections have consequences and America is seeing firsthand the consequences of a federal government controlled solely by the one party, one ideology caucus of the Democratic Party.

There will be higher taxes, increased regulation, further erosion of commonsense policies that balance environmental protection with economic necessity, and an unstoppable appetite to reengineer American society at virtually every level even if the American people reject many of these initiatives.

From weakening basic protections at the polling booth to opening the doors to immigration without a plan in place to manage it before it becomes uncontrollable, the Biden Administration has made it clear that ideology and virtue signaling is at the core of its governing philosophy.

As a former Mayor, and during my time in the United States Senate, I worked hard to make bipartisanship one of the key tenets of my governing philosophy.  On many issues I found that Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, could work together to find common ground.

One such issue was infrastructure.  The relatively boring, but existentially critical component part to our economy, is something that the President and Democrats and Republicans should be able to find common ground.

That is, unless the President insists, as those in his party demand, in turning any infrastructure bill into a poorly disguised effort to sneak a “Green New Deal” past the American people.

In their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s infrastructure a C-.

As bad as that may sound it is up from the D+ the organization gave the country in 2017.

The need to repair our roads, bridges and to make investment in our power grids, water supply systems, and a variety of other transportation related structures such as locks and dams and communication infrastructure like broadband is obvious to anybody who uses any of them for any purpose.

But the Democratic approach to infrastructure in the Obama Administration was to pass so-called “shovel ready” projects that were rarely ready and only slightly required a shovel.

At a June 13, 2011 meeting with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness about his $50 billion infrastructure boondoggle, President Obama said, “Shovel-ready wasn’t as…uh…shovel-ready as we thought.”

The President’s opportunity to reverse the single party governing strategy his $1.9 billion “stimulus” package needed to pass is still possible.

However, if the President and his allies insist on making any infrastructure proposal another platform for societal reengineering and weakening the nation’s economic system to further the socialist aims of far too many in his party, he will not just fail in his efforts, he will fail the country.

Infrastructure gives him a chance to work across the aisle with Republicans to construct an impressive and impactful plan that will invest in our ailing national infrastructure, create real, high-paying, and sustainable jobs for the future, and keep our economy the biggest and strongest anywhere in the world.