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Opinion | It’s Not Over for Joe Biden

But the math is the math. In a 50-50 Senate and an evenly divided House, there are obvious limits to what can be achieved. Even Roosevelt took years to enact the New Deal.

To paraphrase Roosevelt, it’s time for a rendezvous with reality and to fight for what is possible.

Mr. Manchin has said at various points that he could support a scaled-back bill that made long-term commitments to fewer priorities. If there is a chance to make prekindergarten the standard in America, with all that would mean for children today and in the future, it would be a remarkable achievement. Expanding and strengthening the A.C.A. or making permanent a more targeted child tax credit, dramatically reducing the number of children living in poverty in America, would mark monumental progress. Paying for it by offsetting or even partially repealing the Trump tax cuts of 2017 would be fair, equitable and a major step forward.

Focus on the parts, not the sum:

Americans are, at once, eager for solutions yet fundamentally suspicious of sweeping promises of government action. They are wary of words like “historic” and “transformative,” which speak more to the vanity of politicians than to the needs of people. The A.C.A. also set out to be transformative, but we were better able to sell it to the American people when we narrowed it down into a bill that offered practical answers for Americans who, say, got sick and, paradoxically, no longer qualified for health insurance when they most needed it.

Don’t win a victory and declare defeat:

Even after the passage of the A.C.A., some voices on the left called it a failure because it did not include the public option we could not win.

Tell that, today, to all the Americans with pre-existing conditions who can no longer be refused coverage or be gouged by insurance companies. Tell that to the people who have serious illnesses and no longer face lifetime insurance caps. Tell that to the tens of millions of Americans who have coverage, thanks to the A.C.A.

Despite relentless efforts by Donald Trump and Republicans to undermine and repeal the bill, Obamacare has proved durable and popular. This year, more Americans enrolled in its programs than ever before.

In his first year in office, Mr. Biden passed the Rescue Act, which jump-started the vital distribution of vaccines and helped families, businesses and the nation navigate the virus. He defied the skeptics and passed a bipartisan plan to rebuild the country’s fraying infrastructure, with enormous implications for America’s economic future. That alone is pretty good work.

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