11 March 2021

A huge win, and a good omen

This week's passage of the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill is a major accomplishment, achieved under dauntingly unfavorable conditions.  A long list of positive agenda items passed, less than two months into the new government's term in power, despite razor-thin majorities in both houses and unified Republican obstruction and a couple of fractious senators.  Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, and the party are definitely showing they can get things done.

We didn't get everything we wanted (it's politics -- nobody ever gets everything they want).  The failure to bring our minimum wage into line with what most developed countries have is a disappointment, and that effort will need to be revisited.  But look at what we did get.  A new round of stimulus checks.  An extension of the federal addition to unemployment benefits.  An expansion of the child tax credit which is expected to substantially reduce poverty.  A reform of ACA premium subsidies which will make health insurance affordable for millions.  Billions in aid for schools, hospitals, renters, small businesses, vaccine development and distribution, and state and local governments.  No wonder Republicans are whining that this is a wish list of liberal agenda items.  Yes, that's exactly what it is, and that's grounds for celebration, even gloating.

That so much was accomplished, in such a short time, despite such obstacles, bodes well for the future.

I said back in October that Biden's kumbaya talk about bipartisanship and working with Republicans was just a necessity of the campaign, and that he knew full well from his time as Obama's vice president that Republicans would never cooperate:

Biden is a lot smarter than most people give him credit for. He's running this campaign on multiple levels. He gives the naïve the unity-and-reconciliation talk they want to hear, while signalling to those of us who live in the real world that he, too, lives there. As president he'll probably make a genuine effort to work with the residual Republican minorities in the House and Senate, and when they spit in his face and pledge their undying hatred and obstructionism as they did with Obama, he can say that he gave it an honest try -- and then he'll get down to doing what needs to be done.

I'd say that's exactly what we've just seen.  Biden made it clear that he wanted Republicans on board -- but also that the train was leaving on time with or without them.  Democrats this time didn't waste months negotiating with Republicans who clearly just wanted to kill or cripple the bill.  And now the Republicans have shown their true colors.  If they unanimously refused to cooperate on a bill which was supported by the vast majority of the public and even a majority of Republican voters, then they aren’t going to cooperate on anything.

Which brings us to the filibuster problem.  The next big issue on the table is renewed federal protection for voting rights, which Democrats cannot allow to be stymied by the filibuster.  Yet Republicans will be more motivated to block this than almost anything else -- in much of the country, vote suppression is the only way they can win.  It's the irresistible force of victory or defeat on an absolutely critical goal, against the (supposedly) immovable object of Manchin's and Sinema's dogged support for an antediluvian relic of Senate procedure.  Manchin has already signaled willingness to make the filibuster much harder to use, even if not abolish it outright.  Manchin and Biden are apparently engaging in a bit of political kabuki theater on the issue.  There will be movement on the filibuster.  Not all the way, not immediately, but there will be movement.

And then, we'll have more winning to look forward to.


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Wonderful analysis on what Biden's accomplished in such a short time. The Trumpublicans have gone back to being the Party of NO!, as they were during the Obama administration, but the Democrats know how to deal with them this time around, i.e., ignore their attempts at obstruction and forge ahead with their legislative agenda.

I hope their intransigence comes back to bite them in their collective tRumps in the 2022 elections. The Democrats must never allow the public to forget that the Trumpublicans were against the relief package.

11 March, 2021 06:30  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

In the British parliamentary system which we have in Canada, a filibuster by the Opposition can be ended by the Government making a motion of "Closure" to end it and force a vote. Closure is supposed to be used sparingly but it does get used. Does the USA not have any similar counter-measure?

11 March, 2021 07:56  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Absolutely was a good deal in this ... I been reviewing this, and there is so much positive moves in this and much help for business, kids, and else. I was looking at the premium reductions for folks on ACA, it is a substantial reduction, will add hundreds a month to peoples pockets. American Airlines here in Dallas- Fort Worth was fixin to furlough over 1300 employees before this, yesterday, the head of AA told employees to tear up their furlough slips ... this is what is buying time for them through all this decline in business, small businesses are going to get an uplift, because too many have been going under. Tax credits for the kids are a big thing too, and all the efforts and money that been going into COVID vaccinations and such, any way you slice this, it's a GOOD DEAL! I'm amazed that no Republicans even jumped on this in the vote, really ... I have no idea what they are thinking? ... since this is such an urgent emergency, and even a majority of Republican voters want something in this, and are hurting, especially in their red states. As for the $15 minimum wage ... I never expected that to go through ...but only because of business reasons, small businesses have been damn near drowning to stay afloat, I know it's something everyone wants, but because of this pandemic, it has hurt small businesses so much ... just a bit too much to handle for some at this "particular time". The minimum wage is shameful, considering the cost of living, however, individual cities are dealing with this, and the businesses that hire. In Dallas for instance, we have federal min wage $7.25, but no one is paying it, the average fast food chain for most menial position will pay at least $11. The city and county back a few years or so ago, made $15 min law for even all city and county contractors. Each state/ city also has a different cost of living ... too long to get into here ... I'm NOT against $15 min ... I just felt the timing is bad to jump on a federal min wage increase of 200%. This was importante and urgent, and Thanx as well to the business community pushing them in Washington for it too. There are many other things that Democrats also have planned coming up, as well as infrastructure. Some said that Biden was politically dumb to not put his name on stimulus checks like Trump did ... I'm glad he declined, why copy Trump, who has his name on everything? ... this shouldn't be about political bullshit ... this should be about the people and what we need ... we don't need a two bit hustler like Trump, who would put his own mama on the street selling pussy for him ... we need a President. Picture of Biden at top of posting looks like the car in my photo on my blog, which was a ZL1 Chevy Camaro, with a 6.2 V8 580 horsepower engine ... the pick up on those kick ass! nice photo

11 March, 2021 08:12  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

"I'd say that's exactly what we've just seen. Biden made it clear that he wanted Republicans on board -- but also that the train was leaving on time with or without them." Yes. I agree.
And Debra's got a point about the filibuster, no?


11 March, 2021 08:37  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

An opinion video I wanted to leave you concerning this relief package ... particularly to point out the view of Saagar here, who is a conservative Texan ....


11 March, 2021 08:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

In the Senate it requires 60 votes (out of 100) to get cloture and end a filibuster. That's the problem.

11 March, 2021 10:57  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Another brief piece for you ....


11 March, 2021 11:05  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I'm glad the stimulus bill passed. I know there are a lot of people who are hurting right now.

11 March, 2021 12:23  
Anonymous Annie said...

It’s a terrific, potentially transformative bill—especially if the Democrats succeed in making the expanded child credit permanent. Then we’re talking War on Poverty or New Deal type impact. I think it approaches such a comparison already. It’s been a long time since anyone paid attention to the poorest Americans in this richest of countries.

Glad to see that Biden et al have learned that they have to go out in the country and sell it: Republicans are already lying about its content—even as some are taking credit for parts they like despite having voted “nay.”

11 March, 2021 18:26  
Blogger Bohemian said...

Biden is very Wise to invite them to the table to cooperate and leave the ball in their Court to refuse, obstruct and show their true colors to everyone. Nobody can then say he did not try to be diplomatic and invite Bipartisan Support, because he did and will. I think the Republican Party is imploding and going so extreme that only extremists will remain loyal to it. I know some true Conservatives that don't quite seem to know what to do now they really don't have a Party... and they know they don't... and most don't want to align themselves with the Domestic Terrorists and Lunatic Fringe that have now become the ReTrumplican Party. I do not know what such Voters who are REAL Conservative will choose to do, it is doubtful most will come over to the Liberal Side and most aren't Moderates either. As a Non-Partisan Moderate I think they will have to really contemplate what they want their Country to become and either shit or get off the pot, because what they're doing now as a Party isn't working and looks not only Childish and Obstructionist, but Insane and certainly isn't for anyone's good or the Country's good.

11 March, 2021 20:30  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Well said, Infidel. Biden has been, well, amazing since his inauguration, showing the leadership that Trump never had. I know people are surprised at all the things happening, but...it just comes down to a competent President who gives a damn and believes that government is not the problem and it can help.

Trump and the GOP wanted to keep destroying government; Biden and his administration are not doing that. Of course, there will be the purists who will moan about how Biden isn't doing anything, but to hell with them.

And I got my COVID shot (the J&J vaccine), and I am very happy about that. It looks like even more people will have access to the vaccines over the next several weeks; finally we are truly "turning the corner".

12 March, 2021 09:32  
Blogger Mike said...

We need a countdown clock to the 2022 midterms. One that says 'you have this much time left to get things done.'

12 March, 2021 11:10  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Thanks. I think the Rs may very well come to regret fighting this so hard, since its popularity will likely grow over time, especially if the economy recovers strongly (as most experts seem to expect).

Debra: Every system is different. The 60-vote threshold for cloture is what makes it a problem here, and there are probably other details (the Senate has arcane and complex rules).

Ranch: The more I read about this, the more hugely consequential it seems. The Ds made the most of the opportunity. It improves the social safety net in multiple ways, beyond what existed before covid-19. The changes to COBRA and ACA subsidies may even enable me to retire early. Some of the changes are temporary, but if they prove popular enough, there would be great pressure on Congress to make them permanent.

It figures Wicker would praise part of what he himself voted against. The Rs are already trying to take credit for what they opposed. We have to make sure they don't fool voters like those people in West Virginia.

Sixpence: The Ds weren't going to go along with obstructionist trickery like they did when trying to pass the ACA. They learned from experience.

Mary K: There sure are. It's too bad the Rs made everyone wait until the Ds were back in power.

Annie: It will likely be remembered as a transformative bill, not just a response to the pandemic. And yes, Biden learned from Obama's experience -- in politics, being modest about one's accomplishments doesn't pay.

Bohemian: I hope you're right about the Rs imploding. They have certainly gone crazy. I'm concerned that the Ds are also associated with some things that turn off moderates, but that's a topic for another post.

Marc: Thanks. Biden has exceeded expectations by any reasonable standard. What he loses in ideological-fringe support (for whatever reason) he'll more than make up in the mainstream.

Glad you got the vaccine. They still haven't worked down to my age bracket here.

Mike: I think they're carrying around a clock like that in their heads.

13 March, 2021 11:48  
Blogger CAS said...

The relief I've felt since Biden won the election has steadily increased. During Trump's term in office, there were gasps of horror on a daily basis. This is now being countered with daily, involuntary sighs of relief. I don't expect Republicans to ever admit to Biden's policies resulting in an improved life for all. Nevertheless, those policies are having an effect. Hopefully, three years from now, Independent and even some Republican voters won't want to mess with it.

Glad to hear that Manchin is starting to budge. Thanks for the summary.

13 March, 2021 17:32  
Blogger Kay said...

I'm hearing that some Republican senators or representatives are going home to their state saying how great the bill was for them, even when they voted against it.

17 March, 2021 19:11  

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