The Sentinel-Record

Bipartisan­ship boasts are far from the truth

- Marc A. Thiessen Copyright 2023, Washington Post Writers group

WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address, President Biden made numerous dubious claims — but none was more brazen and outlandish than his claim to have delivered on his promise to reach across the aisle and unite the county.

“The people sent us a clear message,” Biden declared. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere. That’s always been my vision for the country: … to restore the soul of the nation … to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job.”

Finish the job? Days before his address, a Fox News poll found 81 percent of Americans see our country as “a dysfunctio­nal family that’s breaking apart” — up 10 points from two years ago when Biden took office. And 50 percent say Biden has made our political divisions worse, while only 19 percent think he is making things better, according to a new CBS poll.

Americans have not forgotten how, one year ago this month, Biden delivered one of the most venomous speeches in modern presidenti­al history — comparing Republican­s who opposed his partisan election law to racists and traitors, and accusing them of standing with George Wallace, Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis. He implied that people who opposed the law were “enemies” of the United States, thundering, “I will defend the right to vote, our democracy against all enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic.”

They have not forgotten how Biden smeared the 74 million Americans who disagree with his policies and voted for his opponent as “semi-fascist” and “a threat to this country.”

But the biggest whopper in his State of the Union address was his claim to have presided over a golden age of bipartisan cooperatio­n. “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” Biden said — as if he had spent the past two years reaching across the aisle and forging consensus.

What world is he living in? Until Biden came along, every COVID relief bill was approved with overwhelmi­ng bipartisan support in both chambers — including five under Donald Trump. But Biden rejected an offer from 10 Republican senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who gave him a path to a filibuster-proof majority for a bipartisan bill — and instead passed a massive $1.9 trillion in social spending disguised as COVID relief (which helped unleash inflation and extreme labor shortages) with Democratic votes alone. He took something that had been bipartisan under Trump and made it partisan.

He followed that up with a massive climate spending bill — disguised as the Inflation Reduction Act — also passed with Democratic votes. He then bypassed Congress entirely and ordered the cancellati­on of up to $1 trillion in student loans by executive fiat — an unconstitu­tional run around Congress.

In his address, Biden said he signed over 300 pieces of bipartisan legislatio­n. Please. In his first two years, Trump signed 442 laws, almost all of them bipartisan as well. Did he unite the country? Most of those were ceremonial or uncontrove­rsial — just like most of the laws Biden signed.

Indeed, Biden threatened to veto his one truly major bipartisan achievemen­t — his infrastruc­ture bill — after the Senate passed it, and then went to Capitol Hill and urged House members of his own party to take it hostage as leverage to pass his Democrats-only “Build Back Better” plan. It eventually passed despite his partisan machinatio­ns. The bipartisan gun legislatio­n he claimed credit for also happened despite him. Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.), the chief Democratic sponsor, told him to stay out of the negotiatio­ns and let senators “do this ourselves.”

Not only that, Biden launched false partisan attacks from the rostrum of the House Tuesday night — accusing Republican­s of wanting to “sunset” Medicare and Social Security, citing a plan by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that virtually no other Republican has endorsed. It is a claim he’s made before that got him “Three — nearly Four — Pinocchios” from The Post’s Fact Checker. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has taken Social Security and Medicare off the table in debt limit negotiatio­ns, and Biden knows it. When Republican­s on the floor booed and objected, Biden said: “So we all apparently agree: Social Security and Medicare are off the books now. We got unanimity!” Wow, another great bipartisan achievemen­t — delivered in real time.

The chutzpah is stunning. But it’s not likely to have much of an impact. Americans believe Biden’s presidency is a failure. Forty-one percent say they are financiall­y worse off than they were before Biden took office — the most negative response to that question in nearly 40 years, according to a new Post/ABC News poll — while 62 percent think he has accomplish­ed “not very much” or “little or nothing” during his presidency, and say they would be “dissatisfi­ed” or “angry” if Biden were reelected in 2024.

Biden didn’t just fail to unite the country; he actively sought to divide us. In his inaugural address, he promised to “end this uncivil war” and put “my whole soul” into “bringing America together.” For two years, in both rhetoric and action, he has done the opposite.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States