During stop in Normal, former Obama adviser David Axelrod weighs in on the infrastructure fight
A former senior adviser to Barack Obama believes that despite intraparty squabbling, Senate Democrats will be able to come together over infrastructure legislation.
David Axelrod, who oversaw Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, said that the drama unfolding in Washington is all part of the democratic process. Axelrod spoke to WGLT's Sound Ideas on Wednesday, ahead of his keynote appearance at the McLean County Democrats' Obama Legacy Dinner at Illinois State University.
President Joe Biden last week delayed a vote on his $1 trillion infrastructure bill, stalling any further movement on the legislation until Democrats can come to a consensus around his so-called “social infrastructure” package. Axelrod said it’s to be expected that individual senators would have objections to aspects of the budget bill that would make sweeping expansions to health care, paid family leave, education, and climate change initiatives.
Axelrod said most Democrats agree on the need for expanded social services in their communities.
“I think most Democrats — if not all Democrats — understand that the economy has changed in dramatic ways that conspire against everyday working people in ways that the social security net needs to account for,” he said. “The question is what the remedy should be and how you pay for it.”
That’s the question being hashed out now, as centrist holdouts in the Senate like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona balk over the $3.5 trillion price tag of the version of the bill favored by progressives.
Axelrod said it’s natural for lawmakers to battle over individual priorities as they build towards consensus. It may be messy, he said, but it’s all part of the process.
“It’s foolish to think in this big diverse country that you’re going to have people representing different areas of the country who have the same exact priorities or approach,” Axelrod said.
Ultimately, Axelrod expects Democrats will be able to come to a compromise and pass some version of the bill. The political costs of not doing so are too high, he said. A failure to push through Biden’s signature legislation while Democrats have the majority will wash up on the whole party, Axelrod believes — not just Biden.
“It’s a myth to think that you can walk away from a president of your own party politically and profit from that,” he said. “They’re going to rise and fall together.”