Time Is Our Enemy | Crooked Media
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January 22, 2021
Positively Dreadful
Time Is Our Enemy

In This Episode

Our season two launch episode takes a broad look at the ways Republicans might try to hobble President Biden as he ramps up his administration, and how he and Democrats in Congress can team up to stop them. Host Brian Beutler speaks with Faiz Shakir, a Capitol Hill veteran who also managed Bernie Sanders’s 2020 campaign, about the policies, strategies, and messages Democrats should use if they want to govern successfully.

 

Transcript

 

ARCHIVAL—Roosevelt: This nation is asking for action, and action now!

LBJ: I’m rather pleased with what has been accomplished in the first 100 days.

Kennedy: in the first 100 days.

Obama: these first 100 days

 

BRIAN VO: Let’s start with a confession: The First Hundred Days is a cliche. And it’s a cliche for an obvious reason: Every president wants his to begin with a bang. To fill his first weeks in office with big achievements and great press. To make the most of his power when his mandate is greatest. 

 

In theory, we could do a First Hundred Days show every four or eight years and it would be boring and repetitive. The same predictable orders, the same predictable staffing changes, the same big legislative pushes on Capitol Hill. And in some ways, this year is no different. After he swore his oath of office on Wednesday, President Biden did a bunch of big things we expected him to do. He revoked President Trump’s Muslim ban, brought the United States back into the Paris climate accord, killed the Keystone XL pipeline, sent an immigration bill up to Capitol Hill. These are big deal changes. And after four years of Trump’s destruction, they come as a huge relief. 

 

But this time, those are just the table stakes. Under different circumstances they would amount to a historic break from his predecessor. But for the times we live in, they will be footnotes to a much more consequential series of decisions. Because Joe Biden has inherited more crises than any president since Franklin Roosevelt—the guy with the original First Hundred Days trademark. As the empty National Mall signified, we’re still in the midst of a once-a-century pandemic. The mall was also empty because right-wing militias loyal to Trump threatened to commit acts of violence during the inauguration. And if that weren’t enough, the economy remains on the brink of collapse. Thousands of workers and small businesses lose hope with each passing day. If Biden doesn’t make big strides toward addressing all of these crises in his early weeks, his presidency may never recover. That’s why he’s promised 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus recovery bill, including a $15 minimum wage, and more relief checks. And he faces widespread calls, including from congressional leaders, to restore democracy and tackle public corruption. He’ll have to do all this while staffing up a government the Trump administration vandalized, while federal prosecutors sort out what to do about all the crimes the outgoing administration committed, while the Senate tries Trump in his second impeachment. Biden’s agenda will run up against these and other obstacles, like the filibuster, and a judiciary packed to the brim with Trump-appointed judges. Only two or three other presidents in history have faced taller orders. Our task here is to assess how Biden handles them. Will he rise to the occasion, and overcome the obstacles? And, if he doesn’t, what does that mean for the future? 

 

My first guest on this season is Faiz Shakir. He’s a former senior Democratic leadership aide and the manager of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 campaign. He and I will look at the weeks ahead, the challenges we can expect, and discuss what Biden should do to overcome them.

 

I’m Brian Beutler, welcome back to Rubicon.

 

Brian: Faiz Shakir, thanks for joining us. 

 

Faiz: Thank you, Brian. Good to be here. 

 

Brian: So what did you think of the inauguration? How did you personally spend it? 

 

Faiz: Well, obviously it’s a happy day and I did spend it watching Joe Biden deliver his inaugural speech and all the festivities surrounding it. And for those of us who watched Joe Biden intensely for two years in every primary speech and remarks through small towns in Iowa and onwards, it was a very consistent version of Joe Biden. I mean, you see the prevailing themes from the very outset of the campaign around unity, moving past discord, an inclusive America. And, you know, my constructive criticism, all in good nature, to push and urge him in the right approach is that you don’t tend to get a lot of policy details. And that’s where, you know, I tend to be someone who wants those. And I understand that this isn’t the speech necessarily to do all of that. However I hope that we are also driving the American public toward some policy outcomes that we desperately need and want. 

 

Brian: So I will circle us back to some policy topics in a little bit, but our idea here is to sort of track and assess the progress of the Biden presidency in its infancy. But, as you kind of alluded to, the Biden presidency is literally about three hours old. So I think it probably makes sense for me to kick things off by asking you to give us a broad lay of the land, what you sort of see as President Biden’s core obligations. What does he have to accomplish early and what do you foresee sort of standing in his way? 

 

Faiz: One way to think about this presidency is it has to accomplish a lot quickly and you have to fight many fires all at the same time. As Senator Sanders would put it, walk and chew bubble gum. So it means having a robust legislative agenda. He’s obviously got, on the one hand, uh, deal with Congress that is still working on impeachment. So you want to kind of get through resolution of that, have a robust legislative agenda, have a robust executive agenda, and have it all paired with a political strategy. And it needs to move quickly. I think that the challenge of all of this and we learned it in the Trump years, is they moved things and they got them done. In his first year in office, Donald Trump, that’s just 2017, with Mitch McConnell at the helm in the Senate, they went through reconciliation twice, and got it done by the end of the first year. And all of that is to say, Brian, we’ve got to be thinking as robustly.  

 

[SFX: RECORD SCRATCH + MUSIC]

 

BRIAN VO: Let me explain what Faiz is referring to here. In the Senate, under current rules, most bills can be filibustered, and bills that are filibustered can’t pass without 60 votes. A big exception to this rule is budget-related bills, which can bypass filibusters through a process called “reconciliation.” This is a huge boon to Republicans in particular, because their top priority, year in year out, is cutting taxes—a budget issue if ever there was one. In 2017, Republicans used this process twice: first, in a failed attempt to repeal the ACA—remember John McCain’s famous thumbs down?—then in a successful attempt to cut rich people’s taxes by trillions of dollars.  Anyway, Faiz’s point is that Democrats can do something similar now, but to better ends. They have 51 votes with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the Senate, which means they can pass big coronavirus-related budget bills through reconciliation, and should do so quickly. 

 

Faiz: You’ve got to do a lot. You’ve got to move through a first reconciliation bill on relief that Joe Biden has already put out. And then you’ve got to move to a second one on recovery and get it all done quickly, because I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of patience on the American public side to be sitting around and waiting and saying, “hey, I put you guys in charge, has my has my life improved or not?” And if you go back to them and say, “oh, well, there was this procedural problem, you see, it was very difficult.” No. That isn’t going to work. That isn’t going to fly. 

 

Brian: So similarly to what you’re arguing. I think that a key to Biden’s success would be to flood the zone with new policy, just kind of create new facts on the ground as quickly as he could, but to improve people’s lives, but also to kind of “wrong-foot” Republicans who, I think, would like Biden to try to act more methodically so that they could kind of anticipate what he’s going to do and try to stop him. I take it from what you just said, that you more or less agree with that idea. But how does the Democratic Party government, with all the sort of clashing interests that it represents, like, manage to pull that off just as a, as a logistical matter? 

 

Faiz: First thing we got to do here is learn some lessons from the first Obama years, right? President Obama comes in in 2009, 2010 with robust majorities and I think had a very good-natured desire and intention to work with Republicans. And I think got worked by Mitch McConnell and the crew. I mean, you saw in essentially in the Senate, things drag out for months upon months. 

 

ARCHIVAL—Reporter: Negotiations stall in spending showdown.

Reporter: What they say their plan is is to slow the process down.

Harry Reid: Mitch has said he is the proud guardian of gridlock.

Congressman: The Republicans are using the filibuster rule to disable the government.

Rachel Maddow: Opponents of reform are gung ho about waiting.

Reporter: There is also a lot of pessimism out there. Democrats are not convinced they are going to find a compromise…Of course we’ve had deadline after deadline.

 

Faiz: I mean, you did get the Recovery Act passed, but then health care got stymied, climate change legislation got stymied. And by the end of it, where, you know, we’re here at the end of two years and obviously the political winds change severely. A red wave comes in in 2010, one that we haven’t fully recovered from but are only starting to dig ourselves out 10 years later. So my point on that is, if you learned the lessons from 2009, 2010, you’re saying: “What are the immediate legislative steps that we got to get done and get votes on?” We have the opportunity to do so. And you kind of parcel out the areas that you think you might have legislative compromise around. So, for instance, Joe Biden has made a good move to say, OK, immigration reform—here it is, introduced. Right? This could potentially get over 60 votes in the Senate. Let’s get the votes. And if it’s not there, then you pursue plan B, but OK, that’s out there. Minimum wage at $15 an hour. Right? We’ve been talking about it for years. Well, you know, can this get 60 votes? I’ll give you a shot? If you want to be there, great. But you’re setting, in some ways, harsh deadlines and saying: OK, if it doesn’t materialize, I’m not sitting around and waiting because then we got to move to a different plan. 

 

Meanwhile, on reconciliation, you have maneuvers there, sitting at the ready to say “OK, I’ve got this mechanism with a 50-vote threshold and limited debate in the Senate. I can get things done and I want to be able to utilize those.” And making sure you’re utilizing robustly is everything at this moment. You cannot be in a mode where you’re saying, oh Lindsey Graham is telling you, “hey, I would love to work with you on that. Just give me a little time.” Right? And then so, then Marco Rubio says, “Oh, I’d love to work with you. Just give me a little time.” Time is our enemy here, actually. I mean, you have to kind of move very quickly. 

 

Brian: To me, what’s interesting, I think, about the situation they’re about to confront is they don’t have any, like, room for error. They got the tiniest majorities I can remember a united party having. And at 50-50, I kind of assumed going in that factional fighting would be just a huge problem and possibly ruin the whole agenda even. But if you kinda step away from social media for a minute, the party actually seems to me to be more in sync with itself from end-to-end than it did in 2009 when Democrats had these huge majorities. And I think, like, one useful example for listeners is that in 2009, Democrats were really squeamish in the face of a huge economic crisis about passing an 800 billion dollar stimulus bill and participated in kind of negotiating it down in size. Today there’s a lot of exasperation online about Biden’s plan, including $1,400 stimulus checks versus $2,000 checks. But everyone in the actual party, where they’re going to have to take the votes on this stuff, seems pretty at peace with both the check size, but also the overall cost of the 1.9 trillion dollar plan. And I wonder if, if you see that as an indication that they learned something about that last experience? That like, If the choice is between set aside these differences and be seen as a success and get nothing done because we’re going to squabble over over the details of these bills, then maybe the incentives actually of these narrow majorities point in a useful direction, just like “we’ve gotta execute, even though, you know, none of us are allowed to vote no in the end, basically.”

 

Faiz: I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. And I think the upshot of having a bunch of people in the Biden White House who lived this experience in 2009 and 2010 is very helpful here. The fact that you have a lot of legislators, you know, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, this is not new for them. They lived through that same experience. And I think that they have oriented themselves accordingly—that we have a unique opportunity to pass stuff and to demonstrate that Congress, this government, this administration can function competently. Also, the fact that COVID looms in a destructive way over our economy and our health care system is almost propelling them towards action. It’s giving them the public argument in order to do the things that I think instinctively they know they have to do anyways. And I’m hopeful that it will compel the coalescence of the entire House Democratic and Senate Democratic caucus. I think your initial reads on this are right, that when Biden introduced a 1.9/2 trillion dollar proposal, the tell in the story is actually not much disagreement, quite frankly, among Democrats from Senator Sanders to Senator Manchin.

 

ARCHIVAL—Sanders: We are seeing a record breaking level of hunger in America. People are frightened to death that they are going to be evicted from their homes. 

Manchin: I’m on board by helping people that need help. People that really can’t make it. People who don’t have a job, they can’t put food on the table. It’s time now to target where the money goes.

 

Faiz: Pushing Joe Biden to go even bigger, which is, which is great, which is the right instinct. I mean, Senator Manchin has even suggested that he wants to move through the relief period so he can get to a multitrillion dollar investment plan in the recovery period. 

 

ARCHIVAL—Manchin: Why can’t we just do something that basically that puts people back to work? Infrastructure. You wanna spend $2 or 3 trillion dollars? Invest it in infrastructure. FDR did it in ‘32. There’s a lot we can do to put people back to work

 

Faiz: Like, that’s great, you know? And to your point, yes, even on things like immigration reform and—that there’s just generally a lot of fundamental agreement because they’ve all taken votes on it. They’ve all been there for many years. Now is the opportunity, just get it done. Right? There needs to be very less—far less, hemming and hawing over this. We’ve been there. Our track record is strong. Just get it done. 

 

Brian: Like, when I see the sort of squabbling online over like $1,400 versus $2,000, the sort of like aggressive politicker in me is like: just do it and be legends, give people $2000 checks. You’ll like, solve the factual problem among grassroots supporters and also the economy will be better and also people will be happier. So why not just do it? But at the same time if like if Bernie Sanders is good with $1,400 and Joe Manchin is good with $1,400, like maybe don’t rock the boat and just get this passed, and move on to the next thing, like you said. Because if you introduce new changes to things when you already have basic consensus around the shape of something that’s two trillion dollars, you sort of risk tripping over your own shoelaces in a way. 

 

Faiz: Can I jump in very briefly here? 

 

Brian: Yeah, course. 

 

Faiz: On direct payments, I am good with, you know, 2000. I would like it recurring. You know, I want to be robust here. There’s deep structural wealth and income inequality in America, and let’s start addressing it. And certainly checks can do that. However, there has been some online criticism of Joe Biden for having somehow shifted the goalposts. He hasn’t shifted goalposts. You know, he went out to Georgia and said: hey, let’s pass those $2000 checks. He said that when the Cash Act was sitting on the Senate floor and he was demanding a vote that Mitch McConnell was holding up. He was speaking about that bill directly. And if you look at what the Cash Act was doing, it was saying: strike the $600 and replace it with $2,000. In other words, they were saying add $1,400 to that $600. Right? And then to hear, you know, my friends, a lot of friends criticizing him for it, I’m like: no, no, that’s not right, you know, he, he hasn’t moved the goalpost. And I don’t mind other people saying: hey, it should be a 2000 check. But let’s be honest, like Joe Biden has stuck true to what he said he was going to do. Right? That was the bill that was on the floor. He took that bill and said: OK, now it’s in my reconciliation bill. Let’s get it done.

 

BRIAN VO: Coming up: Faiz tells us why vaccine distribution could be the key to winning back rural voters—that is, if it’s done right. And, you knew we’d get there, we talk about the filibuster too. Stay with us.

 

[ad break]

 

BRIAN VO: Welcome back to Rubicon. My guest is Faiz Shakir, a Capitol Hill veteran who’s worked at the highest levels of Democratic politics under Bernie Sanders and Harry Reid. We spoke on Inauguration Day about how President Biden should use his power in his first hundred days.

 

Brian: I’ve struggled a bit with how to conceptualize what would constitute success and what would constitute like, disappointment or failure. And usually I think we would say that Biden should do this or do that using executive power or by pushing a bill in Congress. And he should avoid certain traps. And then at the end of all that, we would sort of tally up like, what did he accomplish, what did he not manage to accomplish? Under the circumstances, I think a lot of that stuff is just going to get swamped by the pandemic and the economic crisis. And at a political level, I think that’s almost like a good thing for Biden or it has some political upside. And that I don’t think Biden is going to, like, sign a recovery bill and then put all of his capital into unrelated legacy items and lose sight of the fact that everyone wants to get the pandemic and the economic crisis under control. And so his focus is, I think, a source of strength. But then sort of in between what you might call ‘normal party agenda items’ like, you mentioned, immigration reform, he wants to do a public option on health care. There’s a whole bunch of agenda items he wants to pass.  And then the urgent items like the pandemic and the recession are festering issues, like in particular, I think, the crisis of democracy and the climate crisis. And the risk, or what I fear, is that Biden might do a genuinely remarkable job helping the country recover from these immediate traumas and even reap big political dividends from that. But that it’ll sap the urgency from addressing those deeper-rooted obligations. And I think it’s a big risk because those are going to come back, if they’re not addressed, and we’re going to suffer for it. And I wonder if you share any of those concerns or if you sort of have a brighter perspective on it? 

 

Faiz: So I start from a place, that if we get everything done right, good policy leads to good politics, which means you retain power and the ability to continue to make progress on this agenda. Rather than thinking that this is a one time shot. In two years it’s all gone. In four years it’s all gone. And, you know, we’re screwed all over again. Think aggressively and positively about retaining this power and saying we’re going to build on it and we’re going to have more than 50 seats in the Senate, and we’re going to more than a slim majority in the House and we’re going to keep the presidency. And if that’s your just general political orientation, I think it also expands your horizons of, OK, we’re going to get we’re going to get things done and we’re going to accrue and build. In order to win politically, you’ve got to deliver in a way that I think improves people’s lives and make them feel happy that Democrats are in charge. That, I’m like: I’m glad that not only is President Biden, Biden, you know, he’s our president, but that we have a Democratic House and Democratic Senate. So you have to show them benefits. And I think you have to show that in a tangible way in their lives. 

 

Take COVID, for instance. Biden is going to come in and have a disastrous, you know, vaccination program that he’s got to fix. And you can imagine them all sitting around the White House, and working and say: OK, well, we need to make sure the CDC is talking to the HHS, we’ve got to make sure state and local aid is done. And you could find yourself being satisfied that: Oh, I got the 1.9 trillion dollars that I wanted. And saying: that was a great success, I got the money through Congress. And yes: I am getting needles produced in America. It’s great! Right?  And you can make yourself feel good about it. And my point here, Brian, is, no, not sufficient. I mean, you will feel certainly in D.C. that you are getting things done. But if those people in rural West Virginia are not experiencing a positive relationship with getting the vaccination, it hasn’t yet accrued to your advantage. When I orient myself as a populist, my North Star is, you know, how everyone’s going to measure all of this stuff that you guys are talking about? Whether they got the freaking shot in the arm! Not only that they got the shot in the arm, but they enjoyed it. They appreciated the experience of getting that shot in the arm. That matters, right? That matters for government. Like, if your end goal was well, they got the shot in the arm, but their experience was much like a DMV where they “oh man we came in, it was a pain in the ass, I hate going there, it’s a frustrating thing. Yes I got my driver’s license but man, I never want to see that place again.” We haven’t accomplished the objective. So in many ways what you’re trying to do with an urgency of COVID is at least deliver in a way that accrues to your advantage on all of these other matters. And I do think that we suffer right now in the general public about a crisis in governance—that people are not, do not believe, are not sure, that government can function and work for them. What an amazing opportunity Joe Biden’s got right there. Boom. “I will show you. Here’s direct payments. Here’s shots in the arm. Here’s your schools reopening. And it’s going to, it’s going to function smoothly.” So if you hone in on the user experience and say, “OK, you need a shot in the arm, you need it to be positive, what’s holding us back? This is a mobilization in a wartime atmosphere. I’m going to hire a bunch of people. We’re going to build mass vaccination sites”—much like the census when we hire a bunch of temporary workers to go out and collect people’s information, knock on doors and then they’re off the federal payroll. But for a short period of time, there’s a lot of people on the federal payroll. Why not? Same deal, right? Put them on the federal pay, build mass vaccination sites, make it essentially, ensure that parts of America, the most rural parts of America are being reached, no one’s being left behind, that it isn’t a resourcing problem. Right? That’s where I do think he has this muscular opportunity to say people really want an approach. Don’t let process hurdles bog you down, mobilize for war. 

 

How does it feel for you out there in Iowa? How does it feel for you in South Carolina as we do these things? Are you consuming it? Because they don’t care about how the bread is being made here or the sausage is being made in Washington, D.C. and all the kind of barriers you broke down. What they want to know is how the end result happened here. As long as you hone in there, then, screw all the processes, get to the end result. If that happens the right way, Brian, climate change—the potentials for all of that improve, infrastructure investments improve, democracy reforms of making, you know, essentially competent functional processes work better for people. They’ll believe in you more and you’ll be able to get done more. 

 

Brian: It’s funny because I find myself being simultaneously more and less optimistic than you, I think, about some stuff. Like, I do worry about this question, like in the current era where all politics is national and so much of politics is wrapped up in identity and backlash that I’m not sure I have, like, a ton of faith that a well-run government will be rewarded with continued power after subsequent elections. And so when I see that Democrats seem unwilling to abolish the filibuster, now I worry about an opportunity squandered that it might take another 10 years to reclaim and who knows what’s going to happen in the meantime. 

 

Faiz: So I favor abolishing the filibuster. I’ve had an experience of living through it and executing it when we were working with Senator Harry Reid, when he was Senate majority leader.

 

VO-BRIAN: Hey, it’s Brian again. I wanted to break in for a moment one more time and explain what happened back then, in case you missed it or suppressed the memory to preserve your sanity: Back in 2013, Democrats controlled the Senate, but Republicans imposed blanket filibusters on some of Barack Obama’s key judicial and executive branch nominees—that is, they refused to allow any of them to be confirmed, no matter how qualified they were. Obama literally couldn’t staff his administration, and couldn’t fill powerful appeals court vacancies.  This went on for long enough that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was ultimately able to convince reluctant Democrats to change the rules, effectively abolishing the filibuster for these specific judicial and executive appointments only. Today, the filibuster remains in place for MOST types of legislation, and McConnell intends to abuse that power all over again. Democrats could abolish it all together—as in 2013, that only takes 51 votes, but also as in 2013, some swing-state and old-school Democrats simply don’t want to. They’re worried about blowback, or that future Republicans will run hog-wild in a majority-rules Senate. But Faiz thinks there is room to persuade them otherwise, just like there was a few years ago.

 

Faiz: The lesson from that experience was that the votes in the Senate were not there in the caucus for abolishing the filibuster then, nor are they now. But we built it. We got there. And we got there because we created these obvious moments that made it clear to everybody that Republicans were not acting in good faith. We’re going to have to replay that same scenario all over again, where I think there’s going to be some holdout votes right now in the Senate Democratic caucus who are concerned about making this move and what it might portend for the future and what Republicans could do with it if the barrier was reduced to 50. I personally think that if Mitch McConnell had the opportunity to kill the filibuster with a Republican president and a Republican House, he would, he would do so. I think Mitch McConnell would do it for sure. 

 

Brian: President Biden’s first ask of the Hill is an immigration reform bill. That’s obviously subject to the filibuster. And Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader now, his top initiative he says, is an anti-corruption and democratic reform, sort of like, I think, post-Trump-we-gotta-fix-our-democracy bill. That’s also obviously subject to filibuster. I kind of interpret this as them teeing-up kind of confrontation with Republicans over the filibuster and using Republican opposition to things as basic as “people should be allowed to vote without people who tried to overturn the election suppressing their vote” and “Dreamers should be citizens.” And that is how you build a sort of predicate for reforming the filibuster or getting rid of it altogether. And that maybe the eulogies for filibuster reform are premature.

 

Faiz: So I agree with a lot of that. First of all, Mitch McConnell is a master manipulator. He’s a troll over there in the Senate. He’s already laying the groundwork for saying “Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden have destroyed the norms of the Senate and have, like, threatened to break all of the ways in which we operate.” And so you see him doing a version of what he did last time, right? If you flash back to, you know, when Obama enters office, he says “I want this guy to be a one term president.”

 

ARCHIVAL—McConnell: Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.

 

Faiz: He filibusters him like he’s never filibustered anybody before in the history of a Democratic president. Then by the, by 2013, 2014 rolls around, he says, you know, “Harry Reid is destroying the Senate.” 

 

ARCHIVAL—McConnell: A party that is willing to do and say just about anything to get it’s way. Going nuclear and changing the Senate rules on nominations.

 

Faiz: “Oh, my God. He like “he’s trying to get Obama nominees through.” And it worked successfully for him. In 2014 they win back the majority and he’s now Senate Majority Leader, Senator McConnell. And he did it all on the backs of an argument that said “These Democrats. Oh my God, they’re just tearing these institutions apart. And when I get in, oh, we’re going to have committees functioning again. We’re going to work five days a week. We’re going to have amendments. I’m going to be a really nice conciliator and that, we’re going to make, you know, democracy function.” Literally one year in, he’s holding up Merrick Garland, ensuring that, you know, President Obama doesn’t get to fill the Supreme Court. So, I mean, but the guy is a master manipulator of the elites here in D.C. and the press so he will play the playbook that he’s done again. He’s laying it right now. He understands that Schumer doesn’t have all the votes for it right now. So he’s going to try to peel people off and start setting the predicate for an election argument in 2022 in certain states saying “These guys, I mean, they’re so crazy. They want to go pack the courts.” You know, they tried a version of this last election cycle. Right? “They want to go pack courts. They want to do radical things here, fill in X, Y Z, by abolishing the filibuster.” And you see him really kind of tempting, you know, you know, “Go ahead. Do it. Like I want to, I want to play this argument.” That that’s why I think we have to hone in very clearly on harsh timetables of getting things done so that you don’t get manipulated by, you know, various people, whether it’s him or members of his own caucus who are teasing you along, saying, “oh, just give me a chance, I’ll work with you on this thing or that thing.” It’s a classic playbook. And Mitch McConnell is no dummy. He does that to, you know, himself. He’ll say, “okay, I’m executing a play. And then meanwhile, you know, I’m going to go talk to Susan Collins about calling Joe Biden and saying she’s going to work with him.” Right? “And that’ll just stymie this process a little bit longer.”  If you set harsh timetables and say “these things got to get done, I got to get minimum wage done, I, I need an immigration reform vote. I need this Relief Recovery Act passed by March 15th. I got to get UI checks out, et cetera.” If so those things are getting done, you’ll know, right, if bipartisanship is occurring or not, is my point. And you’ll empower Chuck Schumer to go back to his colleague and say, “look, look, we had that vote and we had this vote. You know, people thought maybe we could get these Republican senators. They ain’t coming along. So are you guys with me? Are we going to change this institution?” And you may have essentially a year to do it. 

 

Brian: Yeah, and I think the role for those of us on the outside is to, uh, to be as loud and annoying and squeaky wheel-y as we can be about not being complacent if we see Democrats kind of falling back into old patterns of, like, taking these entries in good faith. 

 

Brian: I’m going have to leave it there, but Faiz Shakir thanks for joining us.

 

Faiz: Thank you, Brian, and look forward to talking to you again. 

 

VO BRIAN: Thank you for listening, but we’d also love to hear from you. 

Our email address is rubicon@crooked.com. Send us your questions about Biden’s first hundred days and we’ll do our best to answer them. 

 

Rubicon is brought to you by Crooked Media.

It is written and hosted by me, Brian Beutler.

It’s produced by Andrea Gardner-Bernstein.

And Veronica Simonetti is our audio engineer.

We hope you enjoyed this episode, we’ll be back next week.