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Note to Biden: Love the Senate Less

Jamie Stiehm on

Two senators should not be pushing a president around on a signature package -- legacy legislation called Build Back Better -- as time ticks by.

It does not play well. It feels weak when President Joe Biden jokes at a CNN town hall that all senators are presidents.

No, there's only one, Joe; you're it. Know your power, the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., does.

The rub is that Biden loves the Senate too much. He reveres the place he spent 35 years of his life and treats the two troublemakers as if they are equals.

Presidents should win arguments with senators in their party caucus. Presidents should inspire some fear in boots or heels. Presidents need to win stalemates, especially if outliers are only 2 out of 50 senators.

So much depends upon this moment now, as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona hack away at Build Back Better, a big vision of social infrastructure.

 

From the Oval, here's another president on the phone: "If you want to bring this presidency down, then go ahead!"

That's former President Bill Clinton shouting at Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat, perhaps the only vote against a deficit reduction bill. That was an early make-or-break bill, pardon the pun.

Yet in meetings, Biden patiently let Manchin and Sinema rewrite lines of his major new deal for the American people. With any luck, it will still have free pre-K, child tax credits and home health care for seniors.

Whatever it is, it will be half of what it was.

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