Reforms Are Blocked in Every Direction

Well, let’s see how bleeped we are at the moment. Roe v. Wade is about gone, and there’s little Democrats can do about it without (1) getting rid of the filibuster, and (2) adding at least four more judges to the Supreme Court. Neither thing is likely to happen with the current Congress. The same thing applies to voting rights reform. And then there’s the centerpiece of the Biden agenda, the $3.5 trillion infrasctructure reconciliation bill. This is something the Democrats could do, but they are being blocked by a small group of “moderates” within the party. And we’re still dealing with covid. And fires and floods and global warming.

On the plus side, Greg Sargent writes that “Zombie Trumpism” may give Democrats a chance in the midterms. The test for this could be this year’s Virginia governor’s election. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is taking the fight to his Republican opponent.

He is excoriating Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin for opposing vaccine and mask mandates, and casting this as a holdover of Donald Trump’s deranged approach to covid-19.

McAuliffe just launched a new TV ad campaign that hits Youngkin’s opposition to requiring masks in schools and requiring vaccines for teachers and health-care workers. The spot ties this to Youngkin’s declaration that “Trump represents so much of why I’m running.”

As I wrote last week, McAuliffe also is running to defend Roe v. Wade, which Youngkin wants overturned. In other words, he’s giving voters a real choice instead of being the candidates that’s only slightly less right-wing than the other candidate.

On the infrasructure bill, do see David Dayen, Infrastructure Summer: Joe Manchin’s Symphony of Disingenuousness.

Let’s say I didn’t know anything about the big budget reconciliation bill working its way through Congress this month. (Believe me, I’d love to say that; things would be much easier if I didn’t.) If non-aware me read through the entirety of Joe Manchin’s op-ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, which said that the bill is too expensive and just not right at this time, I wouldn’t know anything more about it. While Manchin ably demonstrates how a conservative Democrat representing a red state can preen about concepts like inflation and the deficit and spending trillions of dollars, he explains nothing about what the bill he opposes actually does, whom it would help, and what specific parts he disfavors.

Evidently, Manchin doesn’t want you to know too much about the bill he’s trying to kill. Or at least, he doesn’t want you to know why he doesn’t like it.

Go ahead and read the whole thing. Manchin has been making pious noises about deficits and the burdens being placed on the next generations. But the truth is, the cost of not passing this bill is a lot bigger than the bill itself.  And then go to the Intercept and read about the big corporations working to get rid of the bill’s tax increases on big corporations. Manchin and his mini-me Kyrsten Sinema are well-rewarded by various moneyed interest groups for damaging their party, and the nation.

Greg Sargent thinks that Manchin and Sinema can at least be made to feel very uncomfortable.

Two progressive senators are set to unveil a new plan to tax stock buybacks, in which corporations purchase back shares in themselves as a way to channel additional money to shareholders.

The details of the plan are as yet unknown, but the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) confirms to me that it will be revealed this week. Brown will champion the plan with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who as chairman of the Finance Committee is assembling the corporate tax increases for the $3.5 trillion bill, which Democrats hope to pass by the simple-majority “reconciliation” process.

The plan to tax stock buybacks is one of numerous proposals Democrats are considering to offset the reconciliation bill’s spending, Bloomberg News reports. These proposals are expected to include an increase in the corporate tax rate, an effort to capture more revenue from multinational corporations that shelter profits abroad, taxing capital gains like regular income, and more.

If and when this proposal gets debated, it will be harder for centrist Democrats to hide behind platitudinous objections to spending. That’s because specific proposals can both generate revenue and have policy value of their own, and centrists will have to say which of these they oppose and why.

Of course, corporate taxes are the real reason Manchin and Sinema are being rewarded for holding up the bill. We’ll see if they blink.