How Biden Could Steer a Divided Government

Nov 12, 2020

It’s easy to imagine ways Joe Biden’s presidency might open very badly. Covid-19 may still be spiking. The economy could slip back into recession. Mitch McConnell might still control the Senate, blocking every major Biden proposal. Donald Trump will be unleashed as National Narrator blasting everything that happens.

Things don’t get much better in the unlikely event Democrats capture both of Georgia’s Senate seats to achieve a 50-50 tie, broken by the Democratic vice president. Republicans, freed from all responsibility, will go into full opposition mode and nothing will pass when 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. Democrats will try to govern with a razor-thin majority controlled by several relatively conservative Democrats. So Democrats will have ownership of the government without the means to deliver.

How can Biden and team deal with this challenging circumstance?

Oren Cass of American Compass, which is Republican-leaning, pointed out that there were a lot of newly emerging issues that the two parties haven’t yet had time to get polarized about. Common action could be envisioned there: an infrastructure bank, reshoring American supply chains so we’re not so dependent on China, expanding non-college career pathways, industrial policy to benefit the Midwestern manufacturing base.

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