July 2, 2021

Thought of the Week:

Profiles in Courage is President John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book that profiles a number of Senators who defied to their political party and constituents to do what they thought was right; each suffered criticism and a loss of popularity because of their actions. During his inaugural address, President Biden vowed to be “a president for all Americans.” Considering the extent of polarization across the country, it would take true acts of courage for any president to make good on that promise. This past week, President Biden had the opportunity to demonstrate his own courage by leading his party and calling out Democrats’ progressive excesses. Speaking on the issue of rising crime and holding the cards to cut a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, he could have broken away from the  “defund the police” movement and challenged his party to compromise on spending legislation. This was a time for the “Lunch Bucket Joe” of his winning presidential campaign to emerge and express some obvious political truths about the mood of the country and the illusions of the progressive left. In a speech to address growing crime throughout the nation’s largest cities, a rising vulnerability for Democrats, the president could have challenged his base to stop stereotyping police, take on the recently implemented bail-reform laws that have allowed violent criminals to commit repeat offenses, and challenged progressive district attorneys who have declined to prosecute lower-level crimes despite rising rates of violence in their cities. Instead, the president focused on the worn out issue of gun control. It was a speech that touted an assault-weapons ban even though inner-city crime is committed with handguns; it was a speech that did not match the urgency of the political moment. Similarly, on the economic front, the White House appears to be blowing a bipartisan opportunity on infrastructure that was gifted to them by moderate Republican and Democratic senators. Upon reaching compromise, President Biden reveled in the victory, proving he was able to live up to his promise of getting Republicans and Democrats to work together. Just hours later, however, he declared he would not sign the compromise legislation unless a second social-spending package is passed along party lines at the same time. Although he walked back his veto threat, stating it was not his intent to destroy the very deal he helped negotiate, he was only saying out loud what progressives have been urging publicly. On these two fronts, and others, rather than demonstrating the political courage to govern as he campaigned, President Biden has shown that he is being held hostage by a faction of his party. The president has revealed that he is either unable or unwilling to confront the most extreme voices from within.

Thought Leadership—from our Associations, Think Tanks, and Consultants:

Eurasia Group: Months of Volatility on Fiscal Policy Ahead :The outlook for fiscal policy remains in the hands of a small number of moderate Democrats in the House and the Senate, who will be the key players to watch as Congress attempts to move both a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is likely to fail and a fiscal year 2022 budget in July. At best, negotiations this month will set up a process to pass a partisan $2-3 trillion infrastructure bill late in the fourth quarter, with a downside risk that the infrastructure process extends into 2022, delaying any tax increases that are likely to go with it. Congress will be in recess for all of August, and most of September, setting up headline risks tied to passing last-minute extensions of both the debt limit and government funding bills.

 Eurasia Group: Prosecutors Provide Trump With a New Witch Hunt to Run Against: New York prosecutors unsealed an indictment against the Trump organization and the company’s CFO over tax violations related to fringe benefits. The indictments did not include any charges against former President Trump. Although the indictment may strain the Trump organization’s finances, politically, it will allow the former president to rerun a familiar playbook, casting himself as the victim of a “witch-hunt” driven by politically motivated Democrats—the same approach that allowed him to discredit the results of various investigations during his presidency and bind his base more closely to his narrative.

AEI: The Emerging Biden Doctrine: On his recent trip to Europe, President Biden hammered home the defining theme of his foreign policy. The U.S.-Chinese rivalry, he said, is part of a contest with autocrats over whether democracies can compete in the twenty-first century. President Biden has repeatedly argued the world has reached an “inflection point” that will determine whether this century marks another era of democratic dominance or an age of autocratic ascendancy. While Biden has not always seen the world this way—in 2019 he mocked the suggestion that China was a serious competitor—his claim that the central clash of our time is the contest between democratic and authoritarian systems of government appears genuine. This belief will have profound implications for U.S. foreign policy and geopolitics. For the Biden administration, the concept captures what is driving the U.S.’s relations with its principal rivals, and it links geopolitical competition to the revitalization of American democracy. The effort is expected to focus on a grand strategy of fortifying the democratic world against the most serious set of threats it has confronted in generations. The question now is whether the administration can now turn this vision into a reality. 

In Other Words (Quote): 

“It was all bullsh*t.”

— Former Attorney General Bill Barr on President Trump’s election fraud claims.

Did You Know:

Although 33 corporate PACs have donated at least $5000 to Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election, Toyota is the top donor to those who did not want to certify the results; in just the first half of 2021, the car company gave $55,000 to 37 Republicans who objected to President Biden’s win.

Image of the Week:

 

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