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.

8 thoughts on “Reforms Are Blocked in Every Direction

  1. I give Manchin and Sinema some points for courage.

    And maybe for some smarts.

    If I were in their shoes, I'd care deeply about the way history remembered how I spent my time on thus mortal coil.  Particularly my political time.  But they don't appear to care.

    I'd hate to be remembered as the one who maintained the filibuster at the cost of so many, many things we treasure, but often overlook.  Among the most obvious:

    -The vote:  The RepubliKKKLANS want to choose their voter, not the voter choosing the politician as their representative.

    -The future of representative democracy.  Without a fair vote, there can be no democracy.  And if we become a Fascist political system, how long does Europe last?

    -Our climate.  It can climate with us, AND, it will keep right on climating  on without us.  We still have a chance.  If we blow this one, there is no Planet Earth II.

    -Women losing the right to control their bodies.  

    And these, and many others, are what's at stake.

    So, imo, it takes guts to not care about how you're remembered after you're gone.

    Or maybe not courage, but smarts.

    "History is written by the winners." 

    And if the conservatives win, they'll be the heroes, not those of us who wanted to kill the damn filibuster – like the readers here.

    I know how I'll remember them if the filibuster isn't killed.  And it ain't gonna be nothin' good.

     

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    • "If we blow this one, there is no Planet Earth II."

      Just to be clear, the earth itself will survive.  Humans?  Likely not so much, at least in the form we think we know.

  2. History is written by the winners, but it is read by the survivors.

    As for the filibuster, I worry about the next time the R’s have a majority. I think it will suffice to reform the filibuster back to the old-fashioned continuous talking filibuster, which has a high physical toll on the Senator who does it. Our present-day gerontocrats (“Senate”, indeed) will have to think twice before talking for 48 hours, plus, straight.

  3. Sen. Graham has made clear that the MIC is already demanding another war. Our political system is addicted to forever war. It can't be at peace; not even victor's peace, so it can't win its wars.

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  4. You can make Community College free, but what will that really do?  The problem in this country is not (for the vast majority) a pay wall but a mental block against learning anything.  With way to many young people I meet, the attitude is the less I know how to do the less I have to do.  In some this 'skill?' is the most developed skill they have acquired.  

    Krugman wrote recently about the American propensity for snake oil.   We have people who won't take an approved vaccine but will self prescribe horse de-wormer for the COVID they get.  Do you expect a free Community College education would somehow educate that problem  away?  If twelve years of education have not taught them that that action might be a bad idea, what kind of magic does one expect of the Community College system?  If one has that little horse sense how would they even know they had to attend class and study to get some good out of a free college level courses? 

    Too often the educator's prescription for the undereducated and undersocialized is more education.  Too often politicians buy into their claims.  Yet many politicians are well aware that if the electorate was well educated, they would be unemployed,  Not only that but they would be in the unemployment line with all those snake oil salesman and the professional educators that spout that drivel. Or they all could be at the local Community College getting retrained to do something useful. Oh, if only that were the trendline  of this country.  Oh what a great country we could become.  

     

  5. Remember how hard it was to get the ACA passed, when democrats had majorities in Congress, including a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate.  Then, as now, we have elements in the democratic party, who are considered members in good standing, wherein it is legitimate and acceptable for them to go against party goals on policy and legislation, under the pretense of "moderation" or "centrism." 

    The reality is their motivation is the same as that of damn near all of the senators on the republican side, and that is to protect the interests of wealth.  They're being paid to do it.  Even with a numerical majority in the Senate, the interests of the democratic voters that gave them the numbers are represented by a minority.  Meanwhile, progressives, who are more in line with what's popular with democratic voters, are considered outsiders and any opposition they put up is considered illegitimate and barely tolerated, if at all.  Imagine Warren taking a stance similar to that of Manchin or Sinema.  And don't let AOC even speak up, because then her own party sides with the opposition to marginalize her as a "little girl" who "doesn't know what she's talking about."  This is the reality of the Senate, one that Joe Biden knows all too well, having been a creature of it for decades. He knows full well what Manchin’s motivation is, because its the same thing most of them in the senate are motivated by. And this is the reality of the democratic party.

    If the antics of Manchin, Sinema, and a few others who remain in the shadows, end up reducing infrastructure legislation to the point of pointlessness or killing it off altogether, a collective sigh will rise up from leadership, the fundraising will increase and they'll head into the mid terms knowing that, even if they lose they'll win.  They'll brush off any criticism with "that's the best we could get" with the unspoken being "given we also have to make sure the wealthy get what they want first" including when what they want is the rest of you get nothing.  That's because they're not measuring victory in terms of getting useful stuff done for the voters, but in terms of their careers and opportunities on the other side of the revolving door, controlled by their paymasters.

    That's harsh, but its real.  As long as you have democratic senators pretending to support the interests of the majority of democratic voters under the guise of "moderation" and centrism, a deceptive way of saying we represent first those who pay us, and as long as that is not called out for what it is, nothing changes.  

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  6. A member of Congress makes about $174,00 annually. A FORMER member of Congress working as a lobbyist makes about fourteen times as much. Now do explain how we're gonna put enough pressure on them to blow off a future jobe with a 2 million dollar per year salary?

    • With much love and all due respect, not knowing the answer to a problem is neither a reason to ignore nor discount it.  The first step is acknowledging it, calling it out.  No solution is possible without that.

      That said, I don't know what the answer is beyond the obvious: the public needs to be motivated and educated to understand how the people they elect can impact their lives, and how much control they have over it.  A heavy lift, I know.  But again, we got to start somewhere.

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