Donald Trump may have written "The Art of the Deal," but President Joe Biden has brought it to life within the first months of his term now that the U.S. Senate has largely left his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan intact. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with WBZ-TV political analyst and GBH News contributor Jon Keller about Biden's ability to get politicians to work together and compromise. The transcript below has been edited for clarity
Joe Mathieu: So the Senate takes up Joe Biden's near $2 trillion dollar stimulus package today. Many on Wall Street were pretty dazzled that that number stayed as high as it did as it moved through the House. I know there are questions about stimulus checks — who they will go to and so forth — but did we have the wrong guy the last four years?
WATCH: Isn't this the way dealmaking is supposed to go?
Mathieu: How old-fashioned. This follows months upon months of Donald Trump changing his take on how big the stimulus should be, where the checks should go, whether there should be more checks. All of it played out on Twitter. There was never another stimulus package by the time he left office, Jon. And now this. Does it tell us that Washington is not changing as much as some think?
Jon Keller: Well, I think it speaks to the advantage of experience and understanding how the game is played and how Washington works. Also, I think it speaks to how a clever political operator, which Biden is, can take advantage of the grotesquely polarized partisanship, where now he's backed Republicans into a corner. Keep in mind, Trump actually proposed a higher level for the stimulus check. Remember all that back and forth? So Biden has surveyed the landscape, understands it, saw how to play it. And now the midterms are a long way away, but they're in a position where they can run against Republicans saying, "look, they voted to keep money out of your pocket at the moment you most needed it." Not bad.
Mathieu: So you're actually making a political investment for down the road here, Jon, though it does help to have both chambers of Congress, right?
Keller: Oh, absolutely. The art of the deal these days is within your own party. That's what Biden is demonstrating, how to do that.
Mathieu: I want to ask you about Marty Walsh, Jon. We've not had a full Senate floor vote for his nomination to be the next labor secretary. His staff has already been hired. The chief of staff is waiting for him in the Labor Department, and The Wall Street Journal put up a piece yesterday that was knocking the mayor and referring to criticism that he's received for the city of Boston not awarding many contracts to minority-owned businesses. That's a story that we've investigated here at GBH News. Is that noise in Washington or is there something to worry about here with this nomination?
Keller: Well, the issue of the short shrifting of minority contractors in the city is certainly a valid issue and it speaks to a broader issue that Labor Secretary Walsh should confront, which is a historic bias against minority participation in unionism in a number of different areas. But the Walsh nomination is a done deal. My sources are telling me the Senate vote could happen as early as Monday. And one thing about Marty Walsh that I think even his adversaries here in Boston came to understand is that he's good at getting along with people. He worked his magic on Richard Burr, the ranking Republican member of the committee overseeing this nomination, and he's going to breeze in, no sweat.
Mathieu: Well, it's interesting. He's been quiet, Jon. We really just haven't heard anything outside of the hearing. Do you think that that Mayor Walsh will have to address this before he moves into the Labor Department?
Keller: No, I think that he's just going to sail through at this point. They've had the hearings, everyone's had their say, I think that's baked into the cake. But look, while I don't think his record as mayor will follow him into the job as Labor Secretary, I think it's incumbent on Walsh if he's serious, and I believe he is, to deal with issues like this. When you've set a goal of five percent minority participation in city contracting and the best he can come up with is 1.2 [percent] after seven years in office, that's not an impressive showing. There's no two ways about it, Joe.