Biden’s press conference, amid failed Senate voting rights, proves big change is needed

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President Joe Biden’s press conference marking his first year in office made one thing clear: This president doesn’t need a simple reset or overhaul. What Biden needs is to radically change the way he governs the country. It’s time for Biden to stop being “Uncle Joe” and become “Joe from Scranton” again. It’s the only way for him to fight the battles he needs to win.

What Biden needs is to radically change the way he governs the country.

On the one hand, Biden must give up on the grandiose plans he had to transform America. You can’t be Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson with approval ratings in the 1940s, plus the slimmest majorities in the House and Senate.

(And history is not on the Democrats’ side when it comes to retaining control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. That means, to help themselves, Democrats must come together and do whatever they can to help the president. Even if it means doing things they find legislatively undesirable under normal circumstances.)

Managing Covid-19, tackling the economy and tackling inflation remain essential, but the public needs more. Yes, the infrastructure bill was great, but people won’t feel its impact until after the midterm elections. Now, after two very public legislative failures, Biden needs some wins.

The first win Biden can get on his own, which means no legislation is required. The president needs to start using the power of his pen to sign executive orders. It is the worst form of governance; what one president approves by decree, the next president can remove by decree. Yet desperate times call for immediate action.

During his press conference, Biden briefly raised the possibility of an executive order on voting rights. It has also been reported that Biden plans to sign executive actions on police reform as early as this month. Indeed, why wait? His goal should be to spill the beans and sign at least three more executive actions by early spring. This may seem rude to some, but it will get him some work done.

Then — and this will require both moderates and progressives to have strong stomachs and spines — Biden needs to put his Build Back Better plan as we know it now on the way, the way, the burner way. The focus should be on reducing the cost of kitchen tables for middle and working class families. At the end of the day, the American public always cares about the bottom line.

A recent Gallup poll revealed a devastating trend for Democrats. Republican advantage in the fourth quarter. Why it matters: It’s the biggest swing in a calendar year for Gallup’s 30-year tracking.

It turns out Americans haven’t voted for the biggest structural reform of the social safety net in generations. In 2020, people voted to return to some form of normalcy and competence after the most unstable, confrontational and incompetent administration in history.

And as unpleasant as it sounds, Biden has to go to Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, on what they could work with in terms of Medicare reform; childcare, whether it’s the child tax credit or universal preschool; and reducing the cost of prescription drugs, most likely capping the price of insulin at $35.

Other Democrats will hate this, especially progressives. But that amounts to making a purely political calculation.

Other Democrats will hate this, especially progressives. But that comes down to purely political math: Democrats can stick to their guns and go absolutely nowhere, or they can find smaller wins and give Biden, and themselves, something to enjoy. promote and run this fall.

Finally, Biden must push for reform of the Electoral Count Act of 1887. There are reports of bipartisan discussions to change and clarify how Congress counts Electoral College votes. After January 6, there is no doubt that this needs to be done, and perhaps there might even be a willingness to include some of the pre-approval language of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Clearly, more needs to be done to protect every American’s right to vote, and changing the voter count law is a drop in the ocean. But in politics, a victory is a victory. Achieving this win isn’t complicated, but it’s only achievable if it happens quickly. Time is the enemy of any bipartisan legislation.

It’s time to sort out the Biden administration, and Democrats must apply a political tourniquet to a bleeding legislative agenda. These are not popular tactics or just methods; hands can get dirty. But Democrats don’t have a legislative partner in the GOP aisle. They are alone.

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