Apr 29, 2021 • 13M

Republicans Should Be Encouraged By The Biden Speech

Joe Biden's days are numbered and he knows it.

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Erick-Woods Erickson
Erick Erickson hosts the Erick Erickson Show every weekday from 12pm to 3pm ET, now in national syndication from his flagship station, WSB in Atlanta, GA.
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This is a transcript of my opening monologue on the State of the Union address last night. You can listen live weekdays from nine to noon here or catch the podcast here.

If you're a Republican, you’ve got to be scratching your head over last night. All of us on the right are wondering what exactly is Joe Biden going to do? Is he really going to fundamentally transform America while bankrupting American society? You have to look at that and just be scratching your head. If you're a Republican and you watched that night, God bless you. A friend texted me halfway through it and said he finally had to get up and leave because there were sharp objects in the room and he was afraid of self-harm. However, if you're a Republican, you should be encouraged by what you heard last night.

What you heard last night from Joe Biden is a desperate grab for control. What you heard from Joe Biden last night is a pretty big power play to expand the federal government as quickly as possible by taking control and fundamentally transforming the United States. This was a bold play from Biden. The reason you should be encouraged is the question that all of this raises. Why are Democrats rushing? Why are they moving as quickly as they possibly can to do what they're doing? The reason is they've seen the redistricting numbers. They know where this is headed and they’ve got to do it as quickly as they possibly can because time is running out.


They know the Republicans are going to make massive headway in 2022. That's why you should be encouraged. Joe Biden and the Democrats would not be rushing as quickly as they are into what they're doing, but for the fact that they know without a doubt that Republicans are going to take back the House next year and possibly the Senate. This is why Democrats are rushing.

There are a couple of problems for Democrats that will make rushing more difficult. The first is the filibuster which is not going away. Joe Manchin is signaling again that he is not going to allow the Democrats to get by with the breaking of the filibuster. He's also signaling that he's not going to allow reconciliation for everything they want. Joe Biden now wants about $6 trillion including the COVID relief package that already passed. He is working on the infrastructure plan and will continue to push for some of his brand new LBJ stuff. But there's a level of hubris in what he's doing, and in so doing, he's going to hit a wall.

I think Joe Biden recognizes to a degree that this is inevitable. He can't get Joe Manchin for some things and he can't get Kyrsten Sinema for others. Senator Menendez from New Jersey won’t budge on two major capital gains tax increases. Biden's got to pay for his plan somehow and now he can't. He can't pay for his plan because of the way the Democrats want to operate so he can't get deficit spending to reconciliation. That's something you've got to understand.

The Democrats believe they have a path to an additional reconciliation package. Instead of two this year, they may be able to get three. In so doing, they think they'll have 50 plus one vote to get it done. To do that, they've got to make compromises internally to the Democratic Party where the divides of the party itself will obstruct the Democrat's ability to advance their agenda. For example, House Progressives want deficit spending and are fine raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires. They think part of Biden's plan will be deeply destructive to small businesses so they would prefer deficit spending to mitigate the damage. Axios has this story of this morning. Senate Democrats resist Biden's $1.8 trillion pay for plan.

President Biden is asking Congress to pay for the entirety of his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. Yet some democratic senators want him to finance it with deficit spending. The Human Infrastructure Proposal, which Biden will formally unveil Wednesday night during his joint session of Congress. This was written right before he spoke is already dead on arrival among Republicans. So the Democratic reaction is key. The American Family Plan would cover support activities such as paid leave, free community college, universal preschool in part by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. If the White House ultimately tries to force the bill through the budget reconciliation process, it will need every Senate Democrat to come on board. And right now, it's not sure they will.

"I'm not a big pay-for guy," said Brian Schatz of Hawaii. "I think some investments are worth deficit financing. Nobody asks how we're going to pay for the US military. Nobody really asked how we're going to finance the tax cuts for the wealthy. It's only when it comes to progressive priorities that everybody freaks out and tries to find pay fors." Chris Murphy of Connecticut concurred. "I think there's plenty of money in this country to pay for smart investments, but at the same time, if it's a good investment, I don't know that it needs to be fully paid for." These are Democrats talking.

"My view is I think we need to pay for part of it on the infrastructure angle, but not totally," John Tester of the appropriations committee said. "I think we should find a way to pay for half of it upfront. And then hopefully with good infrastructure, it'll create economic growth and give up the other half." Meanwhile, some centrist senators are wary of the $6 trillion price tag of the combined of Joe Biden's three packages, the rescue plan, the jobs plan, and the family plan. "When we're in a crisis, we've got to sometimes take extraordinary steps, which we did," said Mark Kelly of Arizona. "But we've got to go back to managing the size of our debt compared to the size of our economy." John Dune, the Republican said, "It always comes back to how we're going to pay for it."

Key moderate Republicans, most willing to cross party lines are also against the proposal. "Our top federal budget that we vote on every year is $1.4 to $1.5 trillion. So it's a massive amount of spending," says Mitt Romney. "I think maybe if you were younger, I'd say his dad needs to take away his credit card."

Just because Biden proposes something doesn't mean it's going to get done. Budget reconciliation rules require that it must be budget neutral. This proposal is not in the current budget and does not do that.

If they amend the budget in favor of these new additions, they may be able to get another bite at reconciliation, but even then it won’t be deficit-neutral which is essentially a death nail. More importantly, they also can't not try because they see the writing on the wall now. Republicans will control the drawing of a majority of congressional districts for 2022. In North Carolina, the Democratic governor authored the legislation that gave the governor of North Carolina veto rights and precluded him from vetoing redistricting legislation. So the Republicans in North Carolina, even though their governor's a Democrat, will be able to draw the lines without the Democratic governor's ability to veto it.

In Texas, the Republicans will not be blocked by a Texas Supreme that's activist. In Florida, the Supreme Court there is now conservative and won’t block them. They'll have some trouble in Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, the Republicans will have to cut a deal with a Democratic governor, but they've got the upper hand there with an election on the rise in there. This is actually good news for the GOP. It puts the burden on the Democrats in Congress to keep herding cats as quickly as possible, which is somewhat hard to do. It puts the burden on the Democrats to try to structure this under reconciliation in a way Democrats are signaling they don't want to do. This will cause internal fighting within the Democratic party.

If they're able to pull it off, it's going to cause more inflation and that's going to hurt Biden. The bottom line here is their time is running out. Democrats are admitting that Republicans will take back Congress next year so they’ve got to do as much as they can as quickly as they can.

The Obama Administration was able to push through Obamacare, but they couldn't do anything else. It was all-consuming and prevented anything else from getting done. This led to a resurgence of Republicans at the state and federal levels. The Democrats have polling that shows them this is all popular, but the same pollsters showing them the American people think this is popular, showed them they were going to have a blue wave upon Republicans last year.

Civil War?

It is pretty clear at this moment the Democrats are headed into disarray. They know the Republican wave is coming in 2022 so Joe Biden is going for broke in a way that's not possible for Congress to do without fracturing the Democratic Party. You're not going to hear Democrats say that they're going to put on a united front in public, but that's the reality of the situation. They can't accomplish all of this without fracturing their party. They can't accomplish all of this in a year. They can't accomplish all of this under reconciliation without major compromises.

In trying to do this, they're reuniting the divisions of the Republican party. Everyone from Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney to Marjorie Taylor Green is on the same page. The pro-Trump Republicans to the Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski’s are 100% against it. We haven't even discussed the Republican's secret weapon: All of those Trump-appointed judges. They will be taking a look at everything. This was actually a pretty good deal for Republicans last night and a big addition from the Democrats: Joe Biden's days are numbered and he knows it.