March 19 2021

Thought of the Week:

Speaking to a congressional staffer early this week, he remarked that with such thin majorities in the House and Senate, Congress could have gone one of two ways—bipartisan or super-partisan. He said it was unfortunate that it has gone super-partisan and that the president has only paid lip service to “unity.” Later in the week, a nationally acclaimed political analyst told me that it is surprising that the Biden administration has been as progressive as it has. At the very least, he said, President Biden should have tried to reach out to Republicans on the Covid relief bill. These comments did not come from a staffer to the Freedom Caucus or a Fox News talking head, but from a true centrist and a non-partisan. What is becoming clear to staffers, commentators, and lobbyists alike is that while President Biden promised bipartisanship and unity in his inaugural address, in practice he has largely rejected negotiations with Republicans. The size and scope of the stimulus legislation is one example, the decision to embrace progressive issues unrelated to Covid relief, from the expansion of health insurance subsidies to an increase of the child tax credit, are others. President Biden’s political strategy going forward seems to be: go big; talk a pragmatic game; but govern in a progressive fashion. This go-for-broke strategy will have major implications for the 2022 midterm elections. On the one hand, the Biden strategy may be smart politics. A clear majority of Americans support the stimulus, including a number of Republican voters. Evidence also points to the most persuadable voters being economically liberal and culturally conservative. If voters are receiving tangible benefits from the government, this means a lot more to them than abstract principles of fiscal discipline and balanced budgets. And if the economy is humming next summer, in the runup to the midterms, it would be politically beneficial to claim full credit for the boom, while tarring Republicans as shortsighted partisans for opposing a measure that led to economic growth. On the other hand, the progressive approach is nothing more than a last best chance to get things done before the inevitable backlash. The last four presidents in a row have all lost both the House and the Senate at some point during their terms. With this cycle trending more ideological than expected, every action the White House makes feeds the socialist narrative. It could be that come 2022, progressive governing will leave Democrats open to Republican attacks on more than pure ideology, but substantive issues such as immigration, inflation, trade, and taxes.   

Cool Graphic: 

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

Eurasia Group: Haaland’s confirmation to bring tighter restrictions on federal land oil and gas production. As Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland oversees federal oil, gas, and renewable energy leasing; Native American lands; federal land use; and national parks. Although her influence over leasing and permitting is limited to federal lands, tighter environmental, safety, and leasing restrictions offshore could impose major hurdles to oil and gas production. Therefore, Ms. Haaland’s confirmation may prove beneficial to renewable interests, which have pushed to accelerate permitting for offshore wind.

Global Policy Group (GPG): Implications of rising deficits and debt: The coronavirus pandemic and the federal response are driving a sharp short-term increase in federal direct spending, deficits, and net interest costs, fueling a longer lasting increase in the public debt. The higher deficits have important implications for future policy decisions, likely boosting the prospect for proposals to raise federal revenues, and for inflation, interest rates, and federal borrowing costs. 

In Other Words (Quote): 

“The problem with Cuomo is no one has ever liked him. He’s not a nice person and he doesn’t have any real friends,” former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch (D). 

On the Lookout (what’s coming up in Washington)/On the Hill (recent meetings with Members and Congressional and Biden administration staff): 

  • Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY 15)
  • Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT-1) 
  • Paul Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor, Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT-1)
  • Julie Greene, Assistant USTR 
  • Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-07

Did You Know: 

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a relic of the 1970s energy crisis: While most countries, including the U.S., ceased official observation of DST at the end of World War I, the oil embargo of 1973 spurred a nationwide energy crisis and the federal government imposed DST in the beginning of 1974 to save energy in winter months. 

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