Biden has a choice that could make or break him

Biden has a choice that could make or break him
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President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE has a choice that could make or break his presidency.

He can go big and rely on Senate Democrats to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package or he can accept a less expensive and less effective package that might attract a few Republican votes. Biden must be bold and go big to build back America.

The United States faces big problems that require bold solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed almost half a million Americans and brought sorrow and suffering to millions more.   

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The vaccinations hopefully will restore public health, but immunization will take months. The ravages of the pandemic shattered the economy, which needs a massive financial injection from the federal government to recover.

Last month only 49,000 jobs were added to the economy and a recent analysis indicated that 4 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or more. A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reveals Americans owed 53 billion dollars in back rent, utility payments and late fees. 

This is the United States after four years of hand-to-hand partisan conflict under President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE.

But there’s a need to redefine bipartisanship in this era of political discord and division. There are three forces in American politics and Biden has the potential to move forward with two of them, which is something that Trump wouldn’t and couldn’t do.

In this distressed political climate, there’s little opportunity for partisan consensus when rank-and-file and congressional Republicans tend to oppose Democrats and the Democratic president. Right now, it is highly unlikely that Biden can do anything to create a “tripartisan” consensus that will please Democrats, Republicans and independents.

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We might not get bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans, but there is a real chance for it between Democrats and independents. That’s a big deal for Biden after Trump relied almost exclusively on his political base of conservative Republicans.

To succeed as president, Biden needs to replicate the formula that propelled him into the White House. His winning secret sauce in 2020 was overwhelming support and turnout by Democrats and a strong showing from independents. Biden won a few Republican votes last year, but it’s unlikely he will get much help from GOP partisans or members of Congress during his presidency.

A quarter of the people who voted in 2020 identified themselves as independent. Election exit polls indicate that Biden had a 13 percent advantage among them which is the strongest showing with unaffiliated voters since Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988. In 2020, candidate Biden had strong victory margins among Independent voters in the key Electoral College battleground states of Wisconsin (14 percent), Arizona (11 percent) and in Michigan and Pennsylvania (8 percent). 

An effective way of building bipartisan public support for strong comprehensive stimulus legislation would be to include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Most Republicans oppose the idea, but large numbers of Democrats and Independents support the proposal.

In the last resort, voters will judge Biden more on results than rhetoric. To quash the pandemic and fix the economy, Biden must go big. If that means alienating Republicans to get the nation back on his feet, he should be willing to accept the risk.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.