Monday, May 23, 2022

Malloy: Could a Republican Senate help Biden?

| February 7, 2022 10:20 AM

Put this in the category of “wishful thinking,” but there may be a way for President Biden to turn around his sagging approval ratings. And, for those who may be interested, to keep former President Trump out of the White House in 2025.

Here’s the roadmap: Republicans need to win at least one (preferably both) house of Congress in this year’s mid-term elections. My thinking (or maybe wishful thinking) is that that Biden would be more effective working with a Republican Congress than he has been with a Democratic majority. If that ends up playing out, with Biden uniting the country, there would be no stopping him from re-election in 2024.

Does that sound crazy? Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, for one, doesn’t think so — although he’ll reject any notion about Biden’s favorable chances in 2024. Crapo backs Donald Trump all the way and welcomes any help the former president can give to Republicans during the mid-term campaigns.

But the senator has given some thought to what might have happened if elections in Georgia went the other way and Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

“I’ve believed that if he had to deal with a Republican Senate, he would have been a different kind of president,” Crapo told me in a conversation at his

Boise office. “But I don’t know that for sure.”

What we all know is that Biden doesn’t need to give Republicans the time of day with Democrats holding slim majorities in both houses.

“We do know that when he was campaigning and got elected that he said he would be everybody’s president and that he wanted to work with Republicans. And we also know that he hasn’t done any of that,” Crapo said. “He is catering almost exclusively to the far left extreme wing of his base.”

And what we’ve seen is that Democrats — as with Republicans when they have a majority — can’t seem to govern effectively. Biden pushed through an infrastructure bill with the help of some Republicans (including Crapo), but he has been unable to get all Democrats on board on other high-profile agenda items — including Build Back Better and voting rights.

As Crapo sees it, there is room for Biden to work with Republicans.

“Republicans are being falsely accused of trying to stop innovation and trying to control elections, which the reverse is true, by the way,” Crapo said. “The Republicans’ position on issue after issue — whether it’s tax policy, health care policy or what have you — are being falsely portrayed and the media is picking up that talk on the national level. The accusation is that Republicans won’t work with (Democrats) and that plays out on issue after issue. Republicans are very willing to find areas where a consensus can be built, but right now this administration will not do that.”

But if Republicans were in charge, at least in the Senate, Biden would have a choice. He could get nothing done in the last two years of his term, and go down in history has a “do nothing” president, or become the old “dealmaker” that he was during his years in the Senate.

“He had a record of being able to make deals (with Republicans),” says Crapo, who served with Biden in the Senate. Crapo well remembers Vice President Biden working out a deal with Sen. Mitch McConnell on a budget compromise years ago.

So, there may be a ray of hope. “I hope so,” Crapo says.

In the immediate future, Crapo’s focus will be on winning re-election (not much suspense there) and helping Republicans regain control of the Senate. If that happens, Crapo will be back as chairman of the Finance Committee. Crapo says he has a bill that could be a “game-changer” for cancer care, a prescription-drug bill that will cut costs without government price fixing and an energy bill aimed at reducing dependence on foreign oil and gas.

He might be able to make headway on those issues with Biden the “dealmaker,” opposed to the president who panders to the left and basically ignores anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders.

There we go with more wishful thinking.

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Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist and Silver Valley native, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at