President Joe Biden is once again meeting with Republican senators Thursday to talk infrastructure. After Wednesday’s meeting, in which Republican leaders made it as obnoxiously clear as they could that they’re not interested in working with him, the motivations for continuing on in a spirit of bipartisanship aren’t terribly clear.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was as Trumpist as he could be, his campaign blasting out a fundraising message right after the meeting: “Corrupt Joe Biden and he’s STILL planning  to push his radical Socialist agenda onto the American people,” the blast text said. McConnell made a jab about what’s “real” infrastructure, saying that “nearly all” of the meeting “was about infrastructure.” Then he stated flatly—again—he’s not negotiating. “We are not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill,” McConnell said. “That’s a red line.”

Not accepting a return to rational tax rates for the wealthy and corporations also means that Republicans can scream “BUT THE DEFICIT” and argue for an inadequate overall price tag. They can also be sure to have a captive D.C. press report their very serious deficit concerns and disappointment that Biden isn’t being bipartisan enough. Never mind how much time he invests personally in meeting with Republicans. Because GOP grievances is what the Beltway media lives for.

Frustration with this regular game is starting to boil over among progressives. John Podesta, founder of Center for American Progress and someone who’s been through all this before from his time as an adviser to President Barack Obama, is taking the lead with a group of influential activists in warning Biden that wasting too much time with the GOP is going to slow down his agenda. The activists, including the leadership of the nation’s most prominent environmental groups as well as organized labor wrote to Biden Thursday, urging him to “seize this critical window of opportunity to pass bold jobs and economic investment legislation that responds to the interwoven crises facing this country.”

“Now is the time to realize a bold agenda for the American people without delay or dilution,” the group writes. “Those who argue for small-minded measures are on the wrong side of history.” They don’t flat out say “stop wasting time on Republicans” but that’s the message nonetheless. Podesta tells Politico that the apparent effort Biden is making—to get agreement with Republicans on a smaller hard infrastructure package and doing the rest with just Democrats, is “a risky strategy,” and one that will slow the momentum Biden needs to pass his full agenda.

“They are smart people, and they’ve been successful and effective, so I respect that,” Podesta said of the White House team. “But [talking] only works for so long. The clock is ticking. Would we rather just do one big package for reconciliation? You bet.” So would several dozen House Democrats who are also writing to leadership this week.

“We appreciate the White House’s interest in reaching across the aisle to seek Republican support for overwhelmingly popular infrastructure priorities,” the 60 or House Democrats tell their leadership. “While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments.” Those investments are popular as are Biden’s proposed tax hikes. In the latest Civiqs polling, Biden has majority support for both raising taxes on corporations and on people making more than $400,000 annually.

The plans he has for that revenue are also extremely popular, every bit of them. Nevertheless, Republicans are refusing to even consider tax hikes. That includes Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginian who is leading the Republican effort, and who will be meeting with Biden again. She agrees that taxes are the “red line” they won’t cross. Apparently, McConnell’s got an internal poll of his own that he shared with Republicans in their party lunch earlier this week. According to the Republican poll, “47 percent said they preferred the Republicans’ targeted plan at a fraction of the cost” of Biden’s plan, which got 37{1b1a587643a9e9b1244ae3f96d242e13c62224c25ebdf73114e48122c41a7985}. The polling memo has not been made public, so who knows how the questions were worded to get those results.

It’s not just taxes, though. Republicans are insisting that anything they agree to “needs to meet what 18 months ago the average reporter would have said infrastructure was.” That’s according to Sen. Roy Blunt, who will also be in on the meeting. The assholes won’t even agree to definitions, making this whole process that much more futile.

They’re not going to get far with Senate Democrats. “The Republicans are saying those megacorporations that use roads and bridges and transportation systems every single day as part of their efforts to generate revenue . . . shouldn’t have to pay a penny, and their employees, middle-income workers, should have to bear the burden,” Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Finance Committee and a key leader in this effort, said Wednesday. That means the preferred financing mechanisms of the GOP—user fees—isn’t going to fly with Democrats in the Senate, much less the House. Biden has also rejected user fees.

This could be a protracted effort by Biden to prove to recalcitrant Democrats (looking at you, Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema) and the Beltway media that Republicans are not going to help save America. When he reaches his stated deadline of May 31 for progress from Republicans (what that progress is hasn’t been defined) and it hasn’t happened he could have more luck in pushing the whole package through with just Democratic votes, in budget reconciliation.

In the meantime, though, it’s time ticking away. Podesta points to this fall’s international climate summit in Glasgow and Biden’s stated goal of reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.  “All of that is at risk” if the Republicans succeed in getting Biden to water down the transportation package, Podesta said. “And then the whole diplomatic strategy of that was built around the [upcoming climate] summit is at risk. […] If nothing’s happened when [climate envoy] John Kerry gets to Glasgow—that’s not a good scenario.”

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