Biden is betting big on his start with a fragile majority in Congress

With his massive investment plan to create “millions of jobs,” and shortly after adopting another equally titanic stimulus package, President Joe Biden has started his first weeks at the helm of the United States in a big way. It is bound to do so, as its narrow window of action could close in 2022.

“I think he knows his legacy will be written in the next two years, his legacy as president, and he’s thinking big,” David Axelrod, a former Barack Obama adviser, said Tuesday.

The 2020 presidential election gave the Democrats victory, along with an extra wild card: majority control of Congress, but only by a slim margin.

And both in the White House and in the halls of the Capitol, the memories of the last presidents who, just two years after coming to power, lost their legislative majorities in the midterm elections are still very vivid: Donald Trump in 2018 , Barack Obama in 2010, George W. Bush in 2006 and Bill Clinton in 1994.

Faced with this risk, the presidents fundamentally have two options: to govern more from the center, seeking consensus while protecting their majority, or to stake everything in an ambitious attempt to carry out major reforms from the beginning, even with the danger of losing control. congressional.

With 19 months to go until the 2022 midterm elections, Biden has already made his bet clear: He wants to move quickly with ambitious plans to transform America.

Time is short. While Biden – who, at 78, is already the oldest president of the United States – affirms that he intends to run again in 2024, Axelrod believes that the chances of him doing so are “quite remote,” as he said on the Hacks podcast. on Tap, which he presents alongside Republican Mike Murphy.

– Hard opposition –

“It is big, yes. It’s bold, yes. And we can do it! “

In that determined tone, Biden on Wednesday unveiled his plan to invest $ 2 trillion in US infrastructure over the next eight years, with the goal of creating “millions of jobs,” fighting climate change and tackling a rising China. .

And the announcement came just three weeks after his giant plan to stimulate the world’s largest economy and tackle the COVID-19 pandemic – worth about another $ 2 trillion – was signed into law.

The potential total cost of both plans could exceed Germany’s GDP.

Biden, who is no stranger to the mechanisms of Congress – where he spent more than 35 years as a senator – likes to show himself as a defender of negotiations, with one hand always reaching out to the other side.

But the White House has made it clear that it will not hesitate to move forward without the Republicans, should it be necessary.

Judging from the conservatives’ early reactions, the opposition will be strong.

Influential Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Thursday that he would fight the infrastructure plan “at every turn,” arguing that Biden lacks a public mandate for such a vast package.

– ‘The art of the possible’ –

So how does Biden expect to approve his plan?

“Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible,” Biden told reporters during his first press conference on March 25.

It will not be easy.

Democrats, with a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, can only afford very few defections. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a seasoned strategist, expressed confidence in pushing the plan through early this summer.

Approval in the Senate, however, will be a more complex challenge. With a slim majority, Democrats cannot afford any defections there. But given the vast scope and complexity of the plan, tensions have already emerged between the centrists and progressives of the party.

With information from AFP