Biden Administration

White House Settles On Reconciliation For Infrastructure

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

The Biden administration has tried to avoid using the R-word to the extent possible because they knew that congressional Republicans would give them no choice in any case, but now they're being less coy about it.

Republicans declared Biden's "Build Back Better" spending proposal dead on arrival and that has given the White House all the political cover they need to start making plans for using budget reconciliation to bypass Republican opposition.

Sources in the White House who spoke to Bloomberg say they're well aware that waiting for Republicans to agree to something means it will never pass.

Biden’s aides and allies believe that just trying to persuade congressional Republicans to support what he calls a jobs plan is the strategy of a bygone era. Barack Obama’s presidency took that tack, when bipartisan negotiations over the Affordable Care Act with GOP lawmakers proved fruitless.

While Biden says he’s happy to work with Republicans, listen to their ideas and make adjustments, the White House doesn’t want to let the GOP slow or water down Democrats’ sweeping policy agenda. One White House official said the president is a realist about what happened during the Obama years as well as about the internal dynamics of the GOP in Washington and the pressures its individual members face.

With the benefit of hindsight and a decade of separation in time, it's very easy to say that President Obama made some strategic mistakes when he tried to pass his policy proposals, but that leaves a very large elephant in the room and I don't mean the Republican party.

President Obama was held to entirely different standards than any other president because he was the first black president. The political press, lawmakers, and a larger share of the public viewed virtually all of Obama's policies and rhetoric through a tinted lens that isn't applied to President Biden. The fact is Biden is an old white man and most of the GOP's racialized anti-government spending playbook won't work on him.

The Biden White House is reportedly planning to build public support for this massive spending bill while more or less ignoring the congressional GOP, but that was never a realistic option for the Obama White House. They tried that and it didn't work because the president was black. The simple fact that Biden is white makes me more confident that his proposal will eventually pass and become law.

It doesn't mean Biden is or will be a better president at the end of the day, but the reality of American racism may allow him to accomplish more things.