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We must thank Sanders for Biden's success

We must thank Sanders for Biden's success
© AP/Pool

This week is President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE’s big week. He gave an address Wednesday to a joint session of Congress, and today, the new president is celebrating the 100th day of his presidency. 

The spotlight this week has been on Biden, but we can’t forget to thank Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Symone Sanders 'hurt' at being passed over for press secretary: report MORE (I-Vt.) for his big contribution to the new president’s success.

The 46th president has gotten off to a great start. Though there is still a lot of hard work to do, the economy is in recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic is in remission.

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The March jobs report showed that the economy created 916,000 new jobs, and the stock market has enjoyed the biggest gains under a new president since Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated. 

Biden has reached his goal of vaccinating 200 million Americans in his first 100 days and COVID-19-related deaths are decreasing.

Americans like what they have seen from the new president. A new national survey by NBC News indicates that a majority, 53 percent, of Americans approve of the Biden's performance, while less than half, 39 percent, disapprove. Biden is in much better shape than his predecessor, former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE, was at the same point (40 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove) in his tenure. 

The secret of Biden’s success is his willingness to aggressively tackle the big problems that threatened the nation’s vitality. The public has responded and in the NBC poll, the public gave the president an excellent grade for fighting the pandemic and a good score for his plan to fix the broken economy.

His first legislative success was congressional approval of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act. The new law provided $1,400 to millions of financially strapped people suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic, and much-needed money to state and local governments, which forfeited massive amounts of tax revenue during the COVID-19 crisis.  

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The second act in his fight to rebuild the battered economy is the Build Back Better proposal, which would spend trillions more to jump start the faltering economy that Biden inherited.

The 46th president owes a great debt of gratitude to the man who opposed him in the 2020 Democratic presidential contest — Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator may have lost the Democratic presidential race to Biden, but he won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.

When Biden won the Democratic presidential nomination, he inherited a party whose mainstream moved from the center to the left on economic issues. He responded to this shift and the urgency of the problems facing the nation by aggressively moving to repair the problems.

Sanders’ message was the need for an aggressive progressive approach to solve the serious problems that challenged the health, wealth and wellbeing of the United States. Biden ran as a moderate who would work with Republicans to bring America back.

In the early days of his presidency, Biden has travelled on the progressive trail that Sanders blazed during his career in Congress and his two campaigns for president.

Biden has called for hundreds of billions of dollars in spending to fight the pandemic and rejuvenate the economy. He has called for big increases in taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to fund his bold initiatives. He has resisted the temptation to water down his bold proposals to attract GOP support and has relied on the thin Democratic majority in the Senate to move forward.

Sanders may not have gotten everything he wanted from Biden, but he got a lot of what he needed. The president rejected the signature Sanders proposal, “Medicare For All,” but he accepted many of the big and bold economic proposals that the senator from Vermont has advocated during his long political career. 

Environmental policy is a clear example of Biden’s approach to Sanders’s proposals. Though Biden opposed the Green New Deal, which Sanders supported, he has adopted many of the resolution’s principles in his Build Back Better program. The proposal emphasizes clean energy infrastructure to fight the onslaught of climate change.

The GOP charge that the president is a big spending liberal who has fallen on deaf ears. The new NBC poll indicates that more Americans view Biden as a moderate (42 percent) rather than as a liberal (29 percent).

Biden’s reputation as a moderate has helped him steer clear of Republican attacks on his presidency. His image has provided cover for a package of bold and aggressive proposals that the public might not have accepted from a pronounced progressive like Sanders.

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.