Rep. Ro Khanna: Biden Speech ‘Explicit Rejection of Neoliberal Framework’ — Killing Filibuster Must Follow

In this file photo, Ro Khanna, then a Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from California's 17th District, gestures during his speech Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Fremont, Calif. Rep. Khanna is the lead sponsor for House Democratic legislation that would declare a formal end to the Korean War. (AP Photo/Ben …
AP Photo/Ben Margot

After President Joe Biden gave his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, proposing trillions of dollars in new spending and hundreds of billions in tax credits, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), called the speech “an explicit rejection of the neoliberal framework,” while stating Biden’s vision “will not come into view until we end the filibuster.”

Appearing on Democracy Now!’s The Quarantine Report on Thursday, Khanna, who is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and House Armed Services Committee, praised Biden’s speech, calling it both “consequential” and “very powerful.” 

Khanna especially celebrated Biden’s rejection of small government. 

“We’ve come a long way from when President Clinton said that the era of big government is over,” he said. “This speech was an explicit rejection of the neoliberal framework that I would say started with Reagan and Thatcher.”

Regarding Biden’s proposal to expand the size and scope of government, Khanna stated that “Biden made the case that you need an active role of government in investing in people to unleash their potential, not massive deregulation and tax cuts.” 

“He also explicitly made the case that those at the very top are simply not paying what he said is their fair share … and that we can raise the tax on the very wealthy and collect the taxes from them and corporations, to invest in our working class, to invest in our middle class, to invest in our country,” he added.

When asked about his having said that Biden’s vision “will not come into view until we end the filibuster,” Khanna explained that many proposals, including those on immigration, gun safety, and voting rights, require 60 votes, which can’t be done through “reconciliation.” 

“There’s just no way you’re going to get 10 Republicans to vote for some of those things, when they weren’t even willing to vote for basic COVID relief,” he said.

“So we need to get rid of the filibuster,” Khanna said, adding that without the filibuster, it would “decrease the leverage of some of the members in our own caucus” while allowing for the advancement of the president’s agenda.

When asked why the Democratic leadership won’t move in the Senate on the filibuster, Khanna replied that the Democratic Party has “accepted the bold progressive vision in terms of ideas” but now there must be a “complementary step” of “bold institutional reform” about ideas.

“A filibuster ending — that is one key component,” he said. 

Khanna reiterated  his remarks later in the day while appearing on the MeidasTouch Podcast, stating that he considered Biden’s speech a “home run,” and that Biden “really rejected the framework of Reaganism,” making a “bold affirmative case for government as necessary.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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