For the past four years, the U.S., under the Trump administration, has borne witness to the intense scuffle transpiring between Democrats and Republicans. Perhaps this four-year period has done the greatest damage yet to the two-party consensus in American history. The Biden administration want to get back to the good old days. However, the attitude the Republicans— who lost power in the House of Representatives and Senate— will adopt against the Biden administration is as clear as dishwater.
By preserving their majority in the Senate until Jan. 20, inauguration day, Republicans deferred the approval of Biden’s cabinet for quite a while. After Democrats took control of the Senate, Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, was the first name to be approved. Then, Defense Secretary candidate Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Foreign Affairs Secretary Antony Blinken received approval. Furthermore, over 10 ministerial candidates are awaiting approval from the Senate.
The approval process for Biden’s nomination for Secretary of Justice, Merrick Garland, has not even begun yet. Garland had been nominated by President Obama in March 2016 for Supreme Court Judge. The Republicans hindered his appointment by using the approaching elections as an excuse. They defended that the seat should be filled by the upcoming president. So his approval process was deferred until Jan. 20, 2017. Trump, who was elected as president, opted for a more conservative candidate.
About a month before the 2020 elections, he had nominated radical conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court justice. However, this time, it was the Democrats who referred back to the Garland example and told the Republicans to sit still and look pretty until the elections were over. The Senate for its part swiftly approved Barrett’s nomination. Thus, in the nine-member Supreme Court, the conservatives gained the majority with 6 justices. The left-wing Democrats then declared that, in the case that they win the elections they would launch initiatives to increase the number of justices in the Supreme Court and decrease their tenors in office. Joe Biden remained mum on these arguments. Even though the Democrats won the White House, there isn’t a peep about any reforms. Senator Bernie Sanders, who resides over the Budget Committee, drew attention to the fact that not even one Republican is looking warmly on the said package.
Biden’s real expectation from the Republicans is for the Senate to approve the $1.9 trillion aid package for Americans suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This aid package is the first test for the two-part consensus in the U.S. Congress post-Trump. Left-wing Democrats think that seeking a compromise with the Republicans is a fool’s errand.
The 1.9 trillion dollar aid package is the first item on the Biden administration’s agenda. The Republicans want the package to be brought to the Senate in two parts. The wing of the Republican senators who are leaning toward a compromise share the same opinion. Their numbers don’t even come close to ten. The Biden administration on the other hand is against the package being split into two.
Another item on the Democrat agenda is the issue of forgiving student loans. Over 40 million people owe more than $1.5 trillion dollars in student loans. A single student graduates with approximately $40,000 in loans. Black students owe the banks $25,000 more than their White peers. The Democrats too are divided among themselves over what percentage of the loans that should be forgiven. Debates are running from anywhere between a $10,000 forgiveness to $50,000 per person. Biden wants to forgive $10,000. Democrats who defend that the entirety of student loans should be forgiven say that the increasing price of education only deepens the debt burden on poor Americans and expands the gap between equal opportunities. Furthermore student loans are seen as the biggest obstacle that hinders young Americans from becoming homeowners.
Because being a homeowner is seen as a fundamental part of the “American Dream,” this makes the matter all the more important. It would do well to remember that the educated middle class, whose income is gradually drying up, is now described as the "cultural middle class" in America, where this “dream” is slowly withering away.