Let Biden Loose
by Deacon Blues
After VP Joe Biden lashed out at Senate Republicans for blocking a temporary fix to the Medicare “doc fix” and endangering seniors’ health care, suddenly the Senate moved to separate the issue from the larger second stimulus measure that the GOP and conservative Democrats have stalled over deficit concerns. And just like that, the “doc fix’ passed today, headed back to the House and eventually the president’s desk. But the GOP’s obstruction led to the cuts anyway, and CMS had to implement the law as it stood today, not what it may look like weeks from now. Perhaps now Biden can publicly blast the GOP for cutting Medicare.
There are several lessons from this, some good and some bad. First, why doesn’t Obama let Biden be his attack dog more often? Obama clearly doesn’t have the stomach for confronting his opponents, and Biden has a taste for it and knows Senate egos and how to go for the jugular. Yes, he is prone to misstatements, but would it be any worse than Dick Cheney telling Patrick Leahy to f*ck himself on the Senate floor? And anytime you can get Mitch McConnell to backtrack and call something a “good example of bipartisanship” after stalling this over deficit concerns and having others in his caucus call it a “Ponzi scheme”, you know Biden struck a nerve.
Second, when are Democrats going to take Mitch McConnell’s demand that all spending be paid for and apply it to Iraq and Afghanistan? McConnell and the Senate GOP caucus insist upon fighting long-term unemployment benefits and aid to the states because they’ll add to the deficit. Of course, these were items that the GOP previously insisted not be included in the first stimulus bill, and in their typical hypocritical style they now want them to be paid for from the first stimulus pot. OK fine, then Obama and Biden should then call for repeal of the GOP’s pet peeve tax breaks in that first stimulus bill to pay for aid to the states and unemployment extensions. And while they are at it, the administration should tell the GOP leadership to take the lead by identifying tax increases or domestic spending cuts to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan, under McConnell’s own rationale.
It’s not like the GOP has the public’s support for denying any further stimulus efforts. A new Gallup poll shows that when asked to select among legislative priorities for the remainder of this year, 60% of those polled picked more stimulus money for job creation. Even 38% of Republicans support more stimulus money. So Democrats should not be afraid of putting the spotlight on Republican senators and even conservative Democratic senators who now want to cut spending at a time when the public wants more for jobs.