Poor Susan Collins Can’t Get That Partisan Joe Biden to Abandon His Agenda

Susan Collins helped ruin Barack Obama’s stimulus legislation, and she’s back for more. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

For all the caterwauling Republicans do about the godless liberal mainstream media and its lefty biases, occasionally you see a piece that’s so loaded with GOP spin that it takes your breath away. Today’s example is from CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett, who give us the sad tale of bipartisanship spoiled by the bad people around Joe Biden:

It was Super Bowl Sunday – and President Joe Biden was on the phone with Sen. Susan Collins.

The Maine Republican had tried to make an urgent plea to the new president: Abandon the idea of going it alone withat just Democrats on the $1.9 trillion relief bill and instead continue working on a bipartisan deal.

Biden, two sources familiar with the call said, was sounding out Collins, speaking freely to her and leaving the Republican with the distinct impression that he was receptive to deal-cutting with the GOP.

But the call quickly turned south after White House staff chimed in.

Yes, it’s quite the party talking point: Poor old feeble Uncle Joe is trying to do the right thing by unifying Americans, but the socialists in his camp lead him down the road to perdition. Take it from the veteran bipartisan Mitch McConnell, who said Collins isn’t alone in appealing to the new president’s better angels:

“Our members who were in [one] meeting felt that the President seemed more interested in that than his staff did – or that it seems like the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are,” McConnell said earlier this month.

Collins, of course, is always suspect in such circumstances because of her role in downsizing the Obama-Biden administration’s economic stimulus proposal in 2009, which in the opinion of many Democrats decisively undermined its effectiveness. But at least in 2009 she had the power to bring Democrats half-way to the 60 votes they needed to get the bill through the Senate without resorting to the budget-reconciliation vehicle Democrats were saving for heavier lifts like the Affordable Care Act. This time around, if Democrats were to abandon reconciliation for Biden’s COVID stimulus bill, they’d need ten Republican votes. There are not by any broad definition of “moderate” or “centrist” that many Senate Republicans interested in anything other than destroying Biden’s presidency.

You could see this, in fact, in Collins’s own bid to give Biden a bipartisan path to a COVID bill, as Raju and Barrett reminded us: “Ahead of their White House meeting with Biden, Collins and nine other Republicans had unveiled a $600 billion counterproposal to the President’s $1.9 trillion bill, something Democrats immediately dismissed as insufficient.”

A 68 percent reduction in the size (and the corresponding scope) of Biden’s first and most urgent piece of legislation is not a negotiating bid but a request for surrender. And unfortunately, that’s the kind of bipartisanship Senate Republicans appear to have in mind.

Poor Susan Collins Can’t Get Biden to Abandon His Agenda