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With bipartisan breakthroughs, Biden succeeds where Trump failed

Donald Trump might’ve told voters he knew how “get people in a room” and reach bipartisan deals, but it’s Joe Biden who’s actually delivered on the goal.


After watching his hapless, scandal-plagued presidency unfold over four years, it’s easy to forget that Donald Trump presented himself to voters in 2016 as a guy who knew how to bring people together and reach bipartisan compromises.

Indeed, as regular readers might recall, the Republican pretended one of his key weaknesses — he’d never served a day in the public sector — was actually a strength: Thanks to his extensive experience as a private-sector dealmaker, he knew exactly how to get important legislation through Congress. In January 2016, he explained, “You know, it’s supposed to be negotiated. You’re supposed to cajole, get people in a room, you have Republicans, Democrats, you’re supposed to get together and pass a law.”

A few months earlier, the future president told voters, “You’ve got to close the door and get things done.”

Once in office, Trump quickly discovered that the policymaking process was far more difficult than he realized, and his bullying and bombast produced exactly zero major bipartisan breakthroughs.

His successor, however, is succeeding where he failed. As The Washington Post’s David Ignatius explained in his latest column:

[President Joe Biden’s] inaugural address was a pledge to restore normal order. “I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy,” he said, but still, “we can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.” Join forces with Republicans? Was Biden nuts? Yet gradually over the past two years, dodging brickbats from the left wing of his party, he has done it.

I’d quibble with the idea that the White House has faced significant pushback from “the left wing of his party” — most progressive Democrats on Capitol Hill have come to see Biden as an ally — but Ignatius’ larger point is certainly correct: The incumbent president set out to strike bipartisan compromises, and he has delivered on his goal.

Indeed, the list isn’t short, and it tops anything seen in any recent administration. As we’ve discussed over the course of Biden’s term, the Delaware Democrat’s bipartisan wins include an infrastructure package, the CHIPS and Science Act, an expansion of veterans benefits in the PACT Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — the first major legislation to address gun violence in nearly three decades — and even the Postal Service Reform Act.

Biden added to this with a bipartisan budget deal, which proved to be far less drastic than many feared, and which he’ll soon sign into law after watching it sail through the House and the Senate with relative ease.

It’s as if the wrong president wrote a book called “The Art of the Deal.”