A progressive group with ties to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is privately advising President-elect Joe Biden to move forward with his economic agenda whether or not Democrats win control of the Senate in a pair of Georgia runoffs early next year.
New Consensus, a left-wing think tank led by Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, Justice Democrats’ co-founder Zack Exley and organizer Demond Drummer, is telling Biden that he could work with the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to provide trillions of dollars of low-interest loans to help small businesses and “build the industries of tomorrow,” according to Politico.
In a memo the group sent to Biden’s transition team, a copy of which was obtained by Politico, they acknowledged that while bipartisan legislation may be appealing, the former vice president’s agenda is not dependent on majority control.
“The plan we’ve just outlined, again, can be pursued with or without formal legislation,” the memo reads. “Should that not happen, as you know, the nation does not have the luxury of waiting for such perks before tackling its most urgent and indeed ‘existentially’ compelling needs. What can legally be done must quickly be done.”
Biden’s ability to follow through on his agenda by legislating could be severely limited if the GOP retains control of the Senate. Democrats would need to win both Georiga races, slated to take place on Jan. 5, to secure a 50-50 tie; in that scenario, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could cast a tie-breaking vote to move the Democratic agenda forward.
Through his $7 trillion Build Back Better plan, Biden has pledged to invest in green infrastructure, revitalize the manufacturing industry and revamp housing, education and health care.
But New Consensus argued that Biden could take several major steps to make his plan a reality, first by creating a “National Development Council,” which includes the Federal Reserve chairman, Treasury secretary and Cabinet members, to form an economic development strategy.
From there, they said Biden could establish a “National Development Bank,” to make financing plans for his proposals. Regional Federal Reserve banks would also be granted the authority to administer local projects in their jurisdictions, rather than relying on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or Boston to manage everything.
“In the ’08 bailout, the PTSD I would say is that the Fed gave all this near-zero-interest money out – the result of that was we saved the banking system, but we didn’t actually build anything new,” Chakrabarti told Politico.
The memo is the latest effort by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing to push Biden to the left.
Activist groups are calling on Biden to form a Cabinet that includes progressive leaders – notable suggestions include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for Treasury secretary and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for Labor secretary – while urging him to shut out lobbyists, Wall Street titans and Silicon Valley billionaires.
Biden drew criticism from progressives on Tuesday after he announced that Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., would serve as a senior White House adviser. Climate activists called the selection a “betrayal,” because Richmond has received nearly $341,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry.
“Today feels like a betrayal because one of President-elect Biden’s very first hires for his administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his congressional career than any other Democrat,” Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement.