Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: What will happen with the changing of the guard?

By Arlene Violet
Posted 1/29/21

Very little is certain about fundamental change with the advent of Joseph Biden’s presidency. Just about the only prediction is that he will face substantial obstacles. Sweeping reforms may be …

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Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: What will happen with the changing of the guard?

Posted

Very little is certain about fundamental change with the advent of Joseph Biden’s presidency. Just about the only prediction is that he will face substantial obstacles. Sweeping reforms may be out of the question with wafer-thin control of the House and the Senate. Already Republican Marjorie Greene (R-GA) filed articles of impeachment against Mr. Biden. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) railed against the reentry into the Paris Climate Accord. On Jan. 22, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the floor to denounce some executive orders which contradicted republican doctrine. The president also faces potential opposition from the progressives in his own party. What, if any olive branches, will the president extend to these factions?

If history is any lesson, Mr. Biden may very well court Republicans since he fashions himself as a deal-maker. He has a checkered past in this regard, one highlighted by then-presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, during the primary debate. Her issue was the reticence of then-Senator Biden to support integration of schools. During his senate career, Mr. Biden kissed up to notorious segregationist, Strom Thurmond; Mitch McConnell danced around Mr. Biden on the 2010 Bush tax cuts with Biden throwing in the white flag allowing mere cuts of $600 billion instead of a $3.4 trillion in tax breaks that were supposed to expire. I, for one, am cautious as to which Joe Biden will show up this time to govern, i.e. the bold reformer, or the rubber stamp of the status quo. Already, his appointment of a former staff member (Michael McCabe) with tentacles in the toxic pollutants companies to the EPA transition team appears to put a thumb on the scale despite the rhetoric about the environment.

Mr. Biden might try to borrow from the Trump lexicon and govern through executive orders. His major obstacle is a court packed with Federalist Society judges. Amy Coney Barrett's major disqualification should have been her alignment with this society’s view that agencies should not promulgate rules. She has shown an affinity to protect and expand “dark money" i.e. anonymous corporate campaign contributions. Harper's Magazine (Feb. 2021, p.32) noted that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had his quest for that seat funded by $22 million in anonymous donations, $7 million of which came from one donor. Mr. Biden has tilted to the money-changers more than to Joe Six-pack. Obviously, for me the jury is still out on him.

The president wants Governor Gina Raimondo to be his Commerce Secretary. As readers recall, she initially opted to support Michael Bloomberg for the presidency. He returned the favor (Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan.18, 2021) by hailing her selection as a great choice. He stated that her “credentials” included her wooing thousands of high-paying jobs and her support of capitalism. (p. 5). I wish her well in her new job but I also wonder about her penchant for insider deals like the no-bid IGT contract with a political ally.
Time will tell if I am just a worry-wart about this “new administration” or whether a new day will spring forth which truly gives poor folk and the middle class the attention they deserve. Will “the little guy” finally become the “big guy” or will rhetoric rule the roost with nothing really being done? Stay tuned!

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.