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Biden’s shredded agenda and the lessons of history



President Biden was in Israel when the shocking news came late last Thursday night in Washington:  talks between Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Joe Manchin, the champion of the coal industry from West Virginia, to reach agreement on what was left of President Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda on climate change, health and taxes had collapsed. 

SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO — Manchin had had enough. He repeated his brutal termination of Biden’s transformative Build Back Better program – the centerpiece of his first term – last December.  

The Biden agenda has been shredded with a vengeance. 

Gone – with no hope for passage in Congress – are Biden programs across education, health care, seniors and income security to help working families cope with the costs of living.  Biden’s program offered universal pre-k, childcare, public housing, paid family leave, dental, vision care for seniors, free community college.

Biden also faces recession fears amid inflation and soar in cost of living.

Gone are minimum taxes on super-billionaires to fund these social equity programs.  Gone is Biden’s proposed global minimum tax Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have asked global economic allies – including Australia – to adopt.  

And gone was any hope for any meaningful progress on climate change – a pillar of Biden’s presidency. 

The inability to pass any legislation to effectively fund the move towards renewables and electric vehicles means that the United States will not meet its 2030 climate targets of a 50% reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 2030.   It means that President Biden, for all his commitment on this issue, can offer only words on behalf of the United States – and not action.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts has been a warrior on clean energy and climate change for decades.  His anger was on display for the world:

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts

“Rage keeps me from tears. Resolve keeps me from despair. We will not allow a future of climate disaster. I believe in the power of the Green New Deal. The power of young people. I am with you. We will not give up.”   

For all his work, Biden will be lucky, come September, to get the Democrats in the House and Senate to unite to pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and extend health insurance premium under Obamacare. 

That’s it.  And that is not enough.

In January 2021, my co-author Bryan Marshall and I wrote a foreword for the new edition of our book, The Committee: A Study of Policy, Power, Politics and Obama’s Historic Legislative Agenda on Capitol Hill.  We saw some important lessons for Biden from the Obama-Biden years over a decade ago.  With the Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, and together with Biden in the White House, we wrote:


We therefore see the course of the first two years of President Biden’s historic legislative agenda on Capitol Hill as revisiting and operating with the benefits of lessons drawn from much of the history from the 111th Congress in 2009–10.

In 2021, the issues include addressing profound issues of economic inequality, racial justice and voting rights, gun control, forging a renewable energy economy, reforming immigration, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  

If the infrastructure program is enacted, on top of the rescue bill, and health care and education and income security programs are expanded, if real results are apparent by the end of 2021, then the killer midterm history for the incumbent party in the White House, where they lose on average two dozen seats, may not recur next year. This is why the Democrats are insistent this get done. Biden wants— and needs—to show the country, and the world, that American democracy can work again. And Democrats need to show that the Congress they lead can do big things. Because they cannot win the midterms if they cannot govern. 

Biden and the Democrats are paying a vicious political price from their failures in the context of this history

There are no deliverables from this Congress on economic inequality, racial justice, voting rights, gun control, and immigration.  And nothing on climate.  And for American women, their constitutional right to abortion has been lost. And Congress has failed to pass a law to restore it.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.  Biden’s approval rating is in the 30’s. Over 75% of the voters believe America is on the wrong track.  Inflation and interest rates are soaring.  Younger voters are massively turned off.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.

The lessons of history from a decade ago, with a 50-50 Senate requiring all Democrats to stick together – and Biden ensuring that they did – left no margin for error.  America’s democracy is not working.  Congress is unable to do big things. 

The whole world can see it. There is every risk the Democrats will lose their control of Congress in the midterms because they are not governing.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process



Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged. 

Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for.  He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.

Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome.  What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.

Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.

Arraignment Day II

Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful.  The charges are substantially more serious:  the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice.  Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.

But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does.  Trump does not have a reverse gear.  He never retreats.  Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields.  Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.

And Trump never repents.

Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people.  In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”

It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.

Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:

“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.

It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.

This is the final battle.

With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.

We will expel the warmongers from our government.

We will drive out the globalists.

We will cast out the communists.

We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.

We will roll out the fake news media.

We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”

Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events.  Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race.  But not Trump.

Debase and disgrace

Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York:  debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political.  Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”

Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.

Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”

Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.

Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August.  A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters.  There is no surge to another candidate.  What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.

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Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well



It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.

The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.

Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.

For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.

Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.

The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.

Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.

The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.

This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?

As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.

For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?

Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.


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