The Big Promises Biden Is Making

Biden asks Americans to “imagine a future” beyond the virus, pushing a $1.9 trillion plan to promote jobs and prosperity. It’s Friday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Where things stand

President-elect Joe Biden was not progressives’ first choice for the Democratic presidential nomination. But now that he’s on his way to the Oval Office, he appears to have heeded at least one message from the Bernie Sanders wing of his party: Go big.

In an address last night outlining his $1.9 trillion plan to confront the coronavirus and revive the economy, Biden indicated that he intends to use Democrats’ newfound control of both houses of Congress to push an aggressive economic agenda, with none of moderate Democrats’ typical shyness about government spending. He promised “historic investments” in a combination of “infrastructure, manufacturing, innovation, research and development, clean energy.”

He offered assurances that the proposal made good economic sense: that by increasing employment and tackling poverty, he would also be stimulating business growth and bringing down the deficit. But as he discussed the coronavirus crisis and a range of other issues, he put economic justice at the center.

“Imagine a future, made in America,” he said, subtly reclaiming some of President Trump’s populism after four years in which promises of a reinvestment in American manufacturing went largely unfulfilled.

“We’ll use taxpayers’ dollars to rebuild America,” Biden said. “We’ll buy American products, supporting millions of American manufacturing jobs, enhancing our competitive strength in an increasingly competitive world.”

He said his plan aimed to deliver 12 million Americans from poverty, and he pushed for the approval of a $15 national minimum wage. He also announced new investments in food stamp programs for the duration of 2021 and relief for tenants facing eviction or foreclosure.

Calling the current vaccine rollout “a dismal failure,” Biden pledged to “move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated.” He said that today he would unveil the specifics of a $400 billion plan to confront the virus, which will aim to coordinate the circulation of vaccines and to increase funding for testing and personal protective equipment.

“The decisions we make in the next few weeks and months are going to determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans,” he said, “or whether we stay stuck in a place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport, and where economic prospects dim, not brighten.”

Of course, with only the slimmest of majorities in both the Senate and the House, and with Democrats apparently lacking the votes to do away with the filibuster, Biden may still face an uphill battle in fully delivering on these promises. Some prominent Republicans quickly fired back on social media, calling his proposals too much, too fast.

Since Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate have given little indication of how they will handle his trial. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, indicated that he wouldn’t bring the chamber back from recess earlier than Jan. 19, one day before Inauguration Day.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate. And Senator Chuck Schumer, who as the chamber’s top Democrat is set to become the majority leader, has not yet tipped his hand on his plans for the trial.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said she approved of the House’s decision to impeach the president, suggesting that she might join Democrats in voting to convict Trump whenever the trial occurs.

Murkowski said that the House had acted “appropriately” and that the president had trafficked in “false rhetoric that the election was stolen and rigged.” Murkowski didn’t say she would definitely vote to convict the president, but she did seem to suggest that he had committed something very close to what he was impeached for: inciting insurrection.

“On the day of the riots, President Trump’s words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans — including a Capitol Police officer — the desecration of the Capitol, and briefly interfered with the government’s ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power,” Murkowski said.

On the House side, Representative Liz Cheney faced heavy blowback from fellow Republicans for voting on Wednesday to impeach Trump, while others praised her for standing up to the president despite widespread continued support for him from the party’s rank and file.

Some of Trump’s staunchest allies in the Freedom Caucus are circulating a petition calling on Cheney to step down as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. In it, they write that her vote to impeach the president had “brought the conference into disrepute and produced discord.”

Cheney brushed aside calls to step down, saying that she was “not going anywhere” and calling her impeachment decision “a vote of conscience.” Other House Republicans, including some members of the Freedom Caucus, have expressed loyalty to her.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, who also voted for impeachment, said that Cheney had “gained immeasurable respect” over the past week. He said that it was Republicans attacking Cheney who should be shoved aside.

In a sign of how Republicans who supported challenging the election results may struggle to cover their tracks after Trump leaves power, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma released an apology letter to Black Tulsans yesterday.

Many Black leaders in the city had expressed outrage over his role in seeking to overturn the results in a number of states that Biden won, and some said Lankford should be disallowed from serving on a commission to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.

Andrew Yang, the businessman whose long-shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination last year made him a household name, yesterday announced his campaign for mayor of New York City.

Reprising his signature demand for a basic income provided by the government, Yang began a full day of campaigning in Morningside Heights with an address to supporters.

“The fears for our future that caused me to run for president have accelerated since the pandemic started,” Yang said, pledging to address “how much worse Black and brown New Yorkers have been hit by this virus and its economic impact.”

Yang joins an already crowded (and growing) field of mayoral candidates, including a number who have embraced similar proposals for a basic income.

Photo of the day

Amid heavy security precautions, workers placed bunting for next week’s inauguration across the street from the White House.

Latest Updates

What Biden’s selection of Jaime Harrison to lead the D.N.C. means

By Lisa Lerer

Jaime Harrison raised more money than any Senate candidate in history when he challenged Senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina last fall.

Now, after losing that race by more than 10 percentage points, he’s going to be responsible for telling his whole party how to spend its political cash.

As my colleague Jonathan Martin and I reported yesterday, Harrison is Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Democratic National Committee. Generally, when Democrats hold the White House, the committee defers to the president on the leadership of the party. So Harrison is likely to face no competition for the job. The Biden team also announced some high-profile surrogates as vice chairs, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Representative Filemon Vela of Texas and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.

A former state party chairman, Harrison was championed by dozens of leaders within the committee who would like to see the organization continue to invest in local political infrastructure. And having built a national profile during his race, the former Senate candidate comes to the job with a built-in base for fund-raising and news media attention.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Harrison will be charged with helping to navigate deeply uncertain political terrain and decide the party’s messaging ahead of what are widely expected to be some challenging midterm elections. Already, fights are simmering within the party between those who would like Biden to press his message of unifying the country and a more liberal wing that wants to see the new administration hold President Trump and his allies accountable for any misdeeds in office.

Plus, Harrison will face a simmering battle over the party’s primary nomination schedule. Some Democrats would like to see Iowa and New Hampshire — states with overwhelmingly white and older voting populations — lose their vaunted status at the start of the primary calendar. Others would like to eliminate caucuses, the complicated nominating processes used in Iowa and Nevada.

This fight will probably hit close to home for Harrison: His home state — South Carolina — votes fourth.

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