The quick answer would be no. At least not under this Congress. In the House of Representatives, a total of three Democrats cratered a huge portion of Biden’s bill in committee this past week. The three Congressmen, from Oregon, California, and New York, voted no on forcing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. That is a huge part of Biden’s overall $3.5 trillion plan. And it doesn’t get easier in the Senate.
Now, understand, that the mere fact the committee voted that down with three defectors, doesn’t mean that it won’t come to the House floor for an overall vote. But because this is being voted on as one large piece of the puzzle, as opposed to separate segments, if these three (and there are others) in Congress decide to scrap the overall bill because of the drug pricing part, it dies. And when it gets to the Senate, you’re going to have another different type of fight.
Remember a guy by the name of Bob Menendez (D-NJ)? He was facing corruption charges not too long ago. Now, he beat that rap, but he is convinced that drug companies located in his state (and there are quite a few that are headquartered there) are going to bear the brunt of this $3.5 trillion boondoggle if they are forced to lower their prescription prices for Medicare recipients. The problem is, most of the people taking prescriptions are older and on Medicare. So, while it seems like a tailor-made Democrat issue, there are some snags in it. And with a 50-50 Senate, you can’t have any defections in the Democrats in order to pass it. Everyone has to go along with it so K-baby Harris can break the 50-50 tie.
And that is the problem that has and will continue to haunt Joe Biden’s presidency, at least through 2022. If three Democrats in the House decide to buck with Nancy Pelosi, she loses the vote. If one Democrat in the Senate goes against Chuck Schumer, he loses the vote. So basically four people can control not only Congress, but the entire federal government when it comes to passing laws (and budgets).
Biden’s plan is a monolith of problems. There are people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that feel that the $3.5 trillion price tag is too large. There are people, like Menendez that feel that they need to protect the industries in their state. Then you’ve got the idealogues like Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the rest of the socialist whackjobs, that feel that anything to do with Capitalism needs to die and die quickly. Any one of these folks can screw up the most mundane agenda item of Joe Biden. And don’t think he doesn’t realize that.
Biden met with Manchin and Sinema at the end of last week to discuss trying to get them to change their vote on his Build Back Better plan. He may need to meet with other members of the House and Senate as well, as it appears this whole $3.5 trillion price tag may be too much, and some of the items in it may be too caustic for the members to swallow.
Either way, it’s going to be the big fight of the fall. If it fails to get passed, Biden comes away the big loser. And that’s one thing Joe Biden can’t afford right now, after failures in COVID relief, Afghanistan, the southern border, and the slowing economy.
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!