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President Joe Biden has a growing problem, and it isn't coming from the opposite side of the aisle.
After a year's worth of Republican attack ads framing him as a "socialist" might tell you, and in recent months, six months into his presidency, Biden is facing increased criticism from the left wing of his own party on a host of issues, including gun violence, climate change, student debt, voting rights, and more.
For what it's worth, the administration has taken action on nearly all of the aforementioned issues, but the blowback he's received for not doing more sooner indicates the tenuous hold he maintains over the far-left wing of the party.
The following three moments from his CNN-sponsored Wednesday night town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, illustrate that divide.
Eliminating the filibuster
Even before entering his current office, Biden staunchly cautioned the Senate against eliminating the legislative filibuster. His refusal so far to budge from that position, even as a means of passing voting rights legislation, has irked liberal activists and more than a handful of Democratic lawmakers.
That sentiment played out when an incoming law student and host Don Lemon repeatedly pressed Biden on his insistence that Congress protect a "relic of Jim Crow."
"It is," Biden eventually responded when Lemon alluded to former President Barack Obama's pointed critique of the legislative tool. "There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done."
"Nothing at all will get done, and there’s a lot at stake," he continued. "The most important one is the right to vote. That’s the single most important one."
During that same exchange, Biden even echoed rhetoric used by some Republicans to defend voting against the "For the People Act," legislation that Biden previously said would "protect our democracy."
The president claimed that eliminating the filibuster just to pass the For the People Act isn't necessary because "you can't stop [the public] from voting."
"More people voted last time than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic in American history," Biden explained. "More people did. And they showed up. They’re going to show up again. They’re going to do it again."
Defunding the police
During an exchange on gun violence, the president accused Republicans of "lying" when they say that some members of the Democratic Party want to defund the police.
"No, I’ve never, never, never said 'defunding the police,'" Biden told Lemon. "I don’t know any community, particularly the communities that are in the most need and the poorest and the most at risk, that don’t want police. They want police, though, to look at them as equals."
The president has not explicitly called for eliminating police budgets but has suggested state and local governments "redirect" some police funding. However, both his past comments and those made Wednesday night are out of step with those made by a number of other Democratic lawmakers.
"Defunding police means defunding police," New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement following the police killing of George Floyd. "It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools."
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar took a slightly more tactful approach during a June 2020 interview on CNN, when she claimed that "you can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root."
"No one is saying crimes will not be investigated," Omar continued. "What we are saying is the current infrastructure that exists as policing in our city should not exist anymore, and we can’t go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place."
“A system this cruel and inhumane can’t be reformed. Defund the police, and defund the system that’s terrorizing our communities,” then-New York congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman added in December 2020.
Unifier in chief
Outside of stopping the coronavirus pandemic and enacting meaningful gun reform, Biden's No. 1 stated goal as president is to restore bipartisanship to Washington.
The president frequently discusses how, given his four decades spent in the Senate, he knows how to work with Republicans, and he raised the topic multiple times throughout Wednesday's program.
Biden defended his stance on voting rights and the filibuster by telling the audience that he wants "to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats; we bring along Republicans, who I know know better. They know better than this."
"I don't believe that [passing voting rights legislation can't be accomplished without eliminating the filibuster]," he continued. "I think we can get it done."
The president specifically touted the bipartisan infrastructure framework as evidence that Republicans are willing to work with him.
"You had up to 20 Republicans sign a letter saying, 'We think we need this deal,'" he explained. "I take my Republican colleagues at their word when you shake. I come from a tradition in the Senate: You shake your hand. That’s it. You keep your word."
Later, while discussing attempts by Republicans to block his broader families-based infrastructure initiatives, the president also claimed that obstructing for obstruction's sake is "beginning to move."
"I don’t mean overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing out some panacea here," Biden claimed. "I’ve always found you get rewarded for doing what you think at the time is the right thing, and people really believe you, believe it’s the right thing to do."
Data appears to back up Biden's sentiment to a degree, but it also exposes how long liberal Democrats will be willing to wait for Biden to bring Republicans on board with his legislative agenda.
A June Morning Consult poll found that 53% of the 1,994 participants believed that Biden was the politician who cared the most about bipartisanship. That same survey found that just 37% of Democrats agreed with the statement "it is better to have no action in Congress than action directed entirely by one party," compared to 59% of Republicans.
You can watch Biden's entire town hall, courtesy of CNN.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc
Original Location: Biden's three big problems with the Left in one town hall