All signs point to Mayor Pete leaving the DOT station, a worrying trajectory as airline companies continue ripping off consumers while the former Mayor prepares a victory lap over the Department of Transportation’s long overdue announcement on a rule change that could drastically alter America’s air travel. Sneakily for Pete, this DOT rule won’t take effect until after the midterms, when he’ll kick his 2024 bid for high office into high gear according to rumors coursing through Washington.
If passed, the new rule would crack down on airlines by forcing them to refund delayed flights and offer non-expiring vouchers for travelers who can’t travel due to illness, following the call to arms issued by Senator Elizabeth Warren against airlines bailed out time and time again with taxpayer dollars. But despite the DOT’s announcement, Pete’s equivocation will have delivered too little too late. Democrats need to deliver tangible results in government that make a kitchen table case for progressive government that can be heard and felt over the din of right wing agitprop. Far over the horizon interventions will not aid Biden’s underdog effort to retain a congressional majority.
Sadly, Pete is not alone in pre-November positioning looking past the Midterms. Over at the Department of Commerce, Gina Raimondo is angling for her own post-midterm shake up, having successfully helped to pass what might well end up a massive giveaway to the hi-tech manufacturing industry, i.e., the Chips Act. Having helped to deliver a massive cash injection into fortune 500 tech companies, Raimondo has signaled her ripeness for the top chair at Treasury to business interests across the county. She will likely look to wield the Chip Act’s bipartisan passage as the reason she, and not former Covid Czar Jeffery Zients, deserves to rule over Treasury after Yellen’s widely rumored autumn departure. (Our bet for Treasury? None of the Above!)
Little has emerged about who will definitely succeed Ron Klain, Biden’s Chief of Staff, post midterms. Susan Rice, one contender, has continued to upend efforts for student debt forgiveness in the months leading up to the midterms while wielding outsized power atop the Domestic Policy Council. Rice continues to compete with other contenders like Jake Sullivan, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti (imagine the impact on his lobbyist brother’s business!), Brian Deese, and even Treasury hopefuls like Zients and Raimondo.
As federal cabinet members continue to focus more on their career trajectory than doing their job, Biden would do well to remember just how hampered his agenda will be if Democrats lose control of Congress and must endure the relentless subpoenas and public humiliation rituals plotted for Hunter Biden.
Having cut deals to seize the primary that resulted in a constellation of poorly performing Cabinet officials (beyond Pete and Bloomberg proxy Raimondo, recall that sluggish USDA Secretary Vilsack was supposed to help deliver the Iowa Caucus; alas!) neutering his efficacy and favorability, Biden has one last shot to supercharge the power of the federal government and his own executive authority by seizing on bold and committed leaders to head his cabinet. To quote President Bush “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice–you can’t get fooled again.”
Want more? Check out some of the pieces that we have published or contributed research or thoughts to in the last week: