Friday, June 25, 2021

Schrödinger's Group of 21 Update

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP, via.

Jordan in comments trying to figure out what I was saying:

I'm having real trouble following this (not because your explanations and analyses have been lacking in any way, but just because it's so complex and multilayered).

Basically, you're concluding by saying that the deal is done — both parts of it — despite McConnell etc. publicly bitching, because if it wasn't, then Biden wouldn't be talking about it being accomplished...right?

To clarify, I'm afraid it was basically bad writing--or blogging, web-logging, in the most literal sense, just typing up information as it came in. I'm feeling very uncertain whether this was a brilliant plan or an awful error.

I started off just to record how Rosen jumped on me, with the idea that I'd then try to figure who was right—was it a group of 10 senators or was it 21?—but can't even draw a conclusion on that at this point, let alone on the significance of what happened. The thing Jordan mentions is from inside the argument with Rosen (what do Biden's remarks mean, what are they evidence of, with reference to that?). Rosen later sent some tweets without tagging me, complaining that USA Today had been irresponsible in claiming that it was a group of 21. He still thinks he and The Times were right, and I can't say I even have a right to disagree, only at best that I don't think it matters much who was right: I mean, I still don't know the answer, but my best defense is that the question itself, 10 or 21, wasn't at all the major thing.

Meanwhile, other Republican senators have joined Graham and Moran, notably two of the most respectable of them, Romney and Portman, to complain that they'd been snookered and publicly asking Manchin and Sinema to not support any reconciliation bill at all, which would of course put an end to the project and maybe the Biden presidency altogether, to all practical purposes:

“It completely violates the spirit of the deal. The Republicans involved in negotiations feel betrayed and made fools of for agreeing to a deal in which the Democrats will ultimately get everything they want,” said Brian Riedl, a former aide to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who helped lead the discussions. “Moderate Republicans had an understanding that they were scaling down the cost of the final deal, not simply transferring that cost to a second bill.”
They're acting as if they had no idea what Biden was contemplating and were led into negotiation in bad faith--if they'd understood he was contemplating the reconciliation bill they would not have participated in the agreement; their intention was that this "compromise" should stop Biden from carrying through his full plan.

Biden seems to think he was doing a completely different negotiation. Of course they knew what he was contemplating, because he and others in the administration had repeatedly said so. The "compromise" he was offering was one that would permit Republicans to get the credit for stuff their voters want without asking them to vote for universal pre-K and a corporate tax hike.

“It will be up to Republicans to decide if they’re going to vote against a historic investment in infrastructure … simply because they do not like the mechanics of the process,” Psaki said. “That’s a pretty absurd argument for them to make; good luck on the political front.”

The White House has been clear its intentions for months that it hoped to pass both the bipartisan deal and the Democratic reconciliation package, and Republicans have known both bills were likely coming.

I'm with Psaki, of course, but I can't help noting that's because it's what I've been hearing them say all along, while the press has seemed determined not to notice it.

The big question would be what Manchin and, still more, Sinema think. Or perhaps it would be wiser to say what Manchin thinks he looks like to whatever it is he has over his shoulder that he thinks is his conscience and that tells him what to do (could be Jesus, or the ghost of Robert Byrd, whispering in his ear, could be internal West Virginia polls, could be an actual conscience—we'll never know), and what Sinema, who more and more seems like a loose cannon, wants to do (if she's listening to internal Arizona polls, we're fine, but there's just no telling as far as I'm concerned). I'd like to think they could be held to the things they've said themselves, especially over the past couple of days, and it's perfectly possible (at least they're not Republcans and won't simply pretend they didn't say it), so Team Optimist says everything's fine. And that and a couple of dollars, as they say, will get you a cup of coffee.

But sincere apologies for having given you all such a mess to chew on this morning.

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