We Are Tottering on the Edge of Disaster

Do you ever have a feeling that civilization is hanging by a thread? For example, we’ve got deadly weather patterns around the world screaming “climate change.” Recent heat destroyed millions of ocean creatures, and somehow this didn’t make headlines.

Here in the U.S. it’s unlikely voting rights bills will pass. Yesterday the brave Texas Democrats in Exile met with Joe Manchin to impress on him the critical need for voting protections. Today, Manchin is spitting in their faces by traveling to Texas for a fundraiser hosted by GOP donors. As much as some people in media continue to hold out the hope that Manchin (and Sinema) will budge on the filibuster, we know that Manchin is under orders from his billionaire donors (capital management, equity firms, hedge funds) to leave the filibuster alone.

Meanwhile, the Dealth Cult Republicans continue to stampede the faithful over the coronavirus cliff. Tennessee joined in the great red state race to the bottom by ending programs that encouraged and provided vaccines — all vaccines — to adolescents. Republicans in Congress hope to enable the spread of the Delta variant nationwide by banning “tyrranical” federal mask mandates on interstate transportation.

Is there anything to be hopeful about? At the moment, the reconciliation infrastructure bill looks good. There’s a $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan in Congress that has broad support in the party. From what I can see the progressives will support it, and so far the blue dogs haven’t said they’d oppose it. And Paul Krugman is happy.

The way it was: Some years ago I attended a meeting in which President Barack Obama asked a group of economists for unconventional policy ideas. I distinctly remember him saying: “Don’t tell me that I should spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. I know that, but I can’t do it.”

The way it is: Top Democrats have agreed on a proposal to spend $3.5 trillion on public investment of various kinds, to be passed via reconciliation on top of a $600 billion bipartisan plan for physical infrastructure spending.

Give a lot of the credit to Bernie Sanders, who was proposing much more spending but compromised “down” to $3.5 trillion. This is how negotiating works, people.

It’s too soon to say the reconciliation bill is a sure thing, but at the moment it’s about the only good news we’ve got.