Joe Biden Knows How To Negotiate And Win
Experience counts. Kevin McCarthy does not.
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For new readers, here are links to a few previous posts that will bring you up to date on what the Feathers of Hope network has been doing :
Wait, Exactly How Will We Do This? — (January 28)
Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report — (February 16)
Moderate Republicans? Really? — (March 2)
Spread The Word, Write or Call Today — (April 6)
Escape From MAGA World — (May 3)
Feathers of Hope is a network of ordinary citizens committed to advocating for the removal and replacement of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, thereby diminishing the power and influence of MAGA extremists in the chamber.
We are urging moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to form a temporary bipartisan majority voting bloc for the purpose of passing a motion to “vacate the chair” and elect a new Republican Speaker who owes nothing to the minority MAGA group.
President Biden outsmarts Kevin McCarthy and MAGA as “crisis” recedes.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was elected President of the United States in 2020 because people believed that he is uniquely qualified to restore normal governance of the country. And to no one’s surprise, President Biden delivered. Having inherited a battered economy and a fractured society just beginning to recover from the pandemic, he set about re-building everything that was broken.
With the barest of majorities in the House and Senate, Joe Biden negotiated one agreement after another among competing groups of legislators to produce The American Rescue Plan, The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, The Inflation Reduction Act, The Safer Communities Act, The CHIPS and Science Act, The Postal Service Reform Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act, to name just the highlights.
It would be hard to think of a president with a more sucessful record of legislative achievements during his first two years in office.
On the world stage, President Biden moved quickly to repair our relationships with allies and restore stability and strength to NATO. Foreseeing Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine, he drew upon his vast network of friendships with world leaders to assemble a new alliance of 41 countries in record time. When Russia did invade last Spring, Ukraine was already receiving international support and a growing supply of arms, allowing the much smaller country to mount a powerful resistance. Under Mr. Biden’s steadfast leadership, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group has grown to include 54 countries, while Russia is under ever more stringent sanctions.
In just two years, Joe Biden has returned America to its position of power and respect among the nations of the world.
Meanwhile, President Biden also launched a series of innovative Trade Initiatives. Turning away from the previous structure of Free Trade Agreements with their focus on market access and tariff reductions, the new agreements will place more emphasis on climate policy and worker empowerment. Three major regional agreements are currently being negotiated under his direction and authority.
With dizzying speed and alacrity the Biden administration has taken the lead in building new economic frameworks among groups of neighboring countries across the globe as they emerge into a post-pandemic marketplace.
So what’s Kevin McCarthy got to do with all this?
In a word, nothing.
The debt ceiling “crisis” is little more than a petty political spat in comparison to Mr. Biden’s major legislative achievements, or his role in the dramatic restoration of America’s leadership in the world. And its sole instigator, Kevin McCarthy is equally devoid of importance — except in the sense that a vandal who upends chess boards would be important at a Grand Masters Tournament.
To Joe Biden, a savvy veteran of countless congressional negotiations, it was obvious from the start that the Republican “leader” could never deliver 218 votes for all the demands he was making. Moreover, Mr. McCarthy had explicitly promised in a highly publicized speech to investors at the New York Stock Exchange that there would be no default.
With insufficient support from his own party, and having pledged not to carry out his biggest threat, the Speaker was pitifully weak as a negotiator. And sure enough, he ultimately folded like a gambler with a losing hand.
President Biden walked away with no default, a two-year $3 trillion debt limit increase, and an enforcement measure that guarantees no government shutdown in the Fall — all in exchange for about 20% of what had been demanded by the House majority party.
The agreement is a stinging defeat for MAGA.
In its own way, the attempt to engineer a default on our nation’s debt was the biggest threat to the republic since January 6, 2021. And those responsible for bringing us to the brink of economic catastrophe are the same ones who celebrate those insurrectionists who’ve been identified, charged and convicted for their participation in the violent assault on our Capitol.
With seats in Congress and on influential committees, they remain a threat to be guarded against. But as on January 7, we can today be grateful that they failed, and their power has been dramatically reduced.
But make no mistake. Kevin McCarthy bears primary responsibility for the attempt. And he should not be exonerated simply because he surrendered.
What Happens Next?
Honestly, it’s stunning that Keven McCarthy has betrayed his MAGA base. Perhaps it shouldn’t be, since the man appears to have no discernible core. But in any case, the consequences of his doing so are enormous.
The MAGA Republicans who extracted concessions from Mr. McCarthy in exchange for their votes making him Speaker, will vote “No” on the new debt limit bill. Moderate Republicans and most Democrats will vote “Yes”. So the bill will pass with a bipartisan majority.
Members of this network will recognize that this is precisely what Feathers of Hope has been advocating and preparing for since January. To quote from our February 3 post, Remembering To Stay Focused :
“This week, Act One of the debt ceiling performance began when Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with President Biden in the oval office. . . .
The important thing for us is to remain focused on our research so that we'll be prepared for Act Three in May or June. That's when the actual showdown will take place and Congress will have to act to prevent default. . . .”
“The fact is, whatever Biden says or does this week, and however the press frames the debate, there is zero possibility of a U.S. default on its debt.”
Two weeks later, in our February 17 post Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report we pointed to the moment we’re now in as our target date:
“When the moment finally comes to act, we’ll be ready.
That moment will most likely be in May or June, when the debt ceiling must be raised. The MAGA radicals have already announced their intention to withold support for that essential bill. Whether McCarthy stands with them, or turns against them, some bipartisan solution will be inevitable. That will be our moment to act, our moment to argue that his continued presence as Speaker is untenable”
So here we are. A bipartisan majority is taking shape and the vote to pass a debt ceiling increase will probably take place by the end of this week.
What we do next depends on how the drama of the last few weeks comes to be understood as the dust settles. There have been a number of unexpected twists along the way, and we’ll need to think carefully about how those affect our plan. The most important are these:
President Biden brilliantly tied a budget agreement to the debt ceiling negotiations. By doing that, while also insisting on a two-year raise, he succeeded in removing any further Republican threats of economic blackmail from the 118th Congress. No government shutdown, No potential debt default.
By out-negotiating Speaker McCarthy, which resulted in his abandonment of MAGA extremists in the House, President Biden has greatly diminished the power of that radical faction. No longer able to count on their control of the Speaker, they are now reduced to being just another one of several caucuses in the chamber. However, they remain a dangerous and on-going threat both to the institution and to democratic governance itself.
There have been rumors that centrist Democrats quietly promised Kevin McCarthy they will vote against any motion to vacate the chair, thus assuring that he can continue as Speaker. If true, the task of removing him becomes exponentially more difficult. On the other hand, if he is indebted to the Democrats to remain Speaker, removing him may be less urgent. Either way though, countering MAGA is as urgent as ever - particularly if the extremists are now more desperate than before.
This network is a group project, and whatever influence we can wield comes only from the voices of our members (or in Substack parlance, our subscribers).
Many of you have made multiple phone calls or written multiple emails to members of Congress urging them to form a temporary bipartisan coalition. That is what they are now doing, and it raises the possibility of a new, more cooperative dynamic in the House. (wishful thinking?)
I’d very much appreciate your feedback at this time, as we consider next steps. You can write to me here: JerryWeiss@substack.com or leave a comment below. (You do not need to be a subscriber to comment.)
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