Memo to Congress; The Price of Failure is Far Too High to Contemplate
Folks that have been around politics for a while knew that passing major legislation like President Joe Biden's infrastructure package and Build Back Better plan [now known as the reconciliation bill] in such an equally divided Congress was going to be difficult. The Senate with its filibuster rules which demand super-majorities to pass legislation, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's obstructionism, and the lack of true bipartisanship were all working against success.
Moreover, watching Congress work is painful. Passing major legislation is messy and if you follow media reports on the process day by day, your head will likely explode. While Republicans portray efforts to help working class parents afford healthcare, prescription drugs, and child care as the second coming of Joe Stalin, Democrats bicker among themselves over the minutia for the sake of ideological purity or hoping to protect their political futures back home. None of this is new or unexpected, but the public perceives the seemingly endless negotiations as a circus and it's dragging down Biden's approval rating.
There is an additional element to this debate at this moment in the nation's history. Democrats need to demonstrate that they are the adults, that they are the Party of working class Americans, and that they can govern effectively. If they can't, they will lose their congressional majority in 2022 and invite a second Trump presidency. That would be catastrophic for the nation.
The lesson that Donald Trump took from his defeat last year was that he left too much of our democracy in place, allowed too many Republican officeholders in Congress and in the states to retain some small measure of integrity. That is why he won't back off his election fraud fantasy. It's his litmus test of loyalty and he will spend the next two years destroying anyone in the Party that won't knuckle under to the "big lie." He knows that he will need such folks if he is to successfully undermine voting rights, a free press, and Constitutional norms during a second term.
So, as President Biden ramps up his efforts to forge a compromise on the reconciliation bill, we should hope that Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will remember that the price of failure is Trump 2.0. Democratic activists that worked tirelessly to get Biden elected expect the Party to honor its promise to enact initiatives that assist families, college students, and middle-class workers. And progressive Democrats must realize that even a scaled back reconciliation bill would represent a major legislative victory for working class Americans.
Passing the infrastructure and reconciliation bills won't guarantee Democrats midterm victories in 2022, but failure would surely mean that they would lose their Congressional majority, pave the way toward a second Trump administration, and foreclose the opportunity to address any other priorities like climate change, social justice, voting rights, and reproductive freedom for years to come.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content