President Joe Biden likes to talk up his working-class roots, and his desire to champion various forgotten men who’ve been left out, marginalized and victimized in recent years.

As campaign rhetoric goes, it’s not bad – no president wants to be on the side of plutocrats and special interests, after all. But the promises and programs behind the rhetoric don’t come cheap.

The price tag so far: $6 trillion.

All that cash “…reflect[s] an ambition to restore the federal government to the role it played during the New Deal and Great Society.”

That explains the shout-outs to FDR in Biden’s speeches. But here’s a cold reality about Mr. Biden and his plans. Unlike Roosevelt, who had big Democratic congressional majorities behind him, Democrats have no margin for error in the House, and must rely on procedural gymnastics to get things through the 50-50 Senate.

In theory, it’s possible a united GOP and a breakaway Democrat here or there, could derail all of Biden’s plans – for more spending and more taxes. Will it happen? Maybe. But here’s the even colder reality for the Biden camp:

Biden knows his Senate majority is perilous — he’s one elderly senator’s health crisis away from it collapsing.


Many of the same officials in charge of Biden’s program have fresh memories of the summer of 2009. Doomed negotiations with Republicans over the Affordable Care Act extended into the August recess. That gave well-funded Republican groups the chance to gather forces and bludgeon Democrats in their home districts. This helped create the conditions for the bloodbath of the 2010 midterms.

Yes, a number of circumstances are different now. But never underestimate Congress’s ability to move at a pace that frustrates legacy-building presidents and cheerleading pundits alike. 

And do not discount the possibility that Mr. Biden’s wish list dashes on the parochial political rocks of his own party members.