(New York) Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden has repeated that he has nothing to envy Donald Trump when it comes to the art of negotiation. And, with his long experience in Washington, he would prove it as soon as he arrived at the White House by calling elected Republican Congressmen.
“Let’s come together. We have to find a way forward, ”he promised himself to tell them. “Because there are so many things on which we really agree,” he added, addressing voters in Philadelphia a few weeks before the poll.
As the first anniversary of his election approaches, Joe Biden still has a chance to prove his negotiating skills. But he will have to do it not with the elected Republicans, but with those of his own party.
And he hopes to achieve this before he leaves for the 26e United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held from 1is through November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Ideally, for the White House, this should translate, by the end of the week, into the holding of votes in Congress on the two major reforms wanted by Joe Biden. One, already approved by the Senate, provides for investments of $ 1.2 trillion to modernize the decayed infrastructure of the United States (bridges, roads, ports, electrical networks, etc.).
The other pursues a dual objective: to improve healthcare, education and early childhood care, in addition to combating climate change. It was to contain an envelope of 3,500 billion dollars. This sum should, however, be reduced to around 2 trillion, due to objections from two centrist Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
If a vote is not held on this reform, Joe Biden will at least want to announce an “agreement” before flying to Glasgow. On CNN on Sunday, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was optimistic about this.
But what agreement?
Joe Biden has shown in the past that he is not resistant to compromise. In 2009, for example, he was entrusted by Barack Obama with the mission of finding the Republican support he needed in the Senate for the eventual adoption of an $ 800 billion stimulus plan.
After tough negotiations, the vice president recruited three Republican senators, one more than needed. To progressives who would later blame him for not getting a higher amount, he had to answer, “I like it when the left says, ‘Well, we could have had more.’ Okay, go ahead! Find me 60 votes! ”
This time around, due to a different procedure, Joe Biden does not need the support of a single Republican to push through his most ambitious reform. But he cannot afford to lose the support of just one of the Democratic Party’s 50 senators.
Hence the disproportionate power that Senators Manchin and Sinema can exercise. The former seems to have succeeded in single-handedly removing the cornerstone of Joe Biden’s strategy to combat global warming. It’s a $ 150 billion program meant to encourage power producers to ditch fossil fuels and punish those who resist the transition.
The second, for its part, seems to have blocked an increase in tax contributions from companies and the richest Americans. Rise that was not only to materialize one of Joe Biden’s most important electoral promises, but also to partially finance his reform.
The full list of commitments that will have to be abandoned in part or in whole because of the positions of Senators Manchin and Sinema is not yet known. But Joe Biden has already mourned a two-year free community college and 12-week parental leave.
A caring attitude
However, Joe Biden refuses to participate in the festival of insults, accusations and threats that progressive activists reserve for Senators Manchin and Sinema.
“Joe is not a bad guy,” said the president, speaking of the senator from West Virginia, during a town hall broadcast by CNN last Wednesday evening. “He’s a friend. And, in the end, he always changed his mind and voted [avec nous]. »
This benevolent attitude is part of Joe Biden’s style of negotiation. “We must assume that the other is not an idiot,” he told journalist Evan Osnos, who quotes him in the biography he devoted to the president.
The latter added: “It is very important to communicate to the person you are talking to that you understand their problem. ”
It is speculated that this spirit prevailed Sunday during negotiations led by Joe Biden with Joe Manchin and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer at his Delaware residence.
The president also held several meetings with Kyrsten Sinema. “She’s as smart as the devil,” he said Wednesday night of the enigmatic senator from Arizona. “She is very supportive of the environmental aspect of my plan. ”
Then, a hint of impatience in his voice, he added: “Where she doesn’t support him is that she says she won’t raise taxes for corporations or the wealthy with a single penny.” , period. And that’s the rub. ”
Other sources of income are being considered to finance a reform which would remain historic if its envelope approached 2000 billion dollars.
But time is running out for Joe Biden, whose claim to negotiating excellence could prove to be as deceptive as that of Donald Trump.