The fantastical myth of the Powerless President

Well we always knew that Biden is a conservative Democrat and that the Democrats in general are very conservative.

… we have seen Democratic senators prepare to surrender the $15 minimum wage their party promised by insisting they are powerless in the face of a non-binding advisory opinion of a parliamentarian they can ignore or fire.

That explanation is patently ridiculous and factually false, so Democratic apologists are starting to further justify the surrender by suggesting that even if the party kept a $15 minimum wage in the Covid relief bill, conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would block it anyway.

So persuade them. Do the work.

And yet, whether you call this all deliberate deception or learned helplessness, this fantastical myth of the Powerless President will inevitably be used to shield Biden from criticism for abandoning his pledge to fight for a $15 minimum wage.

The apologism is particularly absurd because unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who was a relative newcomer to politics, Biden’s major selling point was that he knows “how to make government work”. The guy explicitly pitched himself as the best Democratic presidential candidate by suggesting that in an era of gridlock, he knows how to make the Democratic agenda a reality and Get Things Done™, like master of the Senate Lyndon Baines Johnson.

…the White House continues to say it is “fighting our guts out” for Neera Tanden’s nomination, even though it might not have enough Senate votes for her confirmation. And yet, the same White House is simultaneously retreating on the minimum wage, seemingly unwilling to force a floor vote on the issue, even though presidential pressure, legislative brinkmanship, and negotiation could change the outcome.

So…confirming Neera Tanden is worth fighting for but a raise in the minimum wage isn’t?

The real story, then, is that Biden seems unwilling to use the same influence to push as hard as possible for a minimum wage increase that would boost the pay of millions of Americans during an economic emergency.


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