America's Screwed... Progressives Care Too Much To Tank Manchin's Build Back Worse Act
Or Even To Fight Schumer & The DCCC Filling Congress With More Sinemas & Manchins
When The Nation's headline writer came up with the cute one about Conor Lamb being a centrist in sheep's clothing for Aída Chávez's exposé of the fringe-right Democrat he was comparing him to a spectrum that includes fascists and QAnon devotees like Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Traitor Greene and Lauren Boebert. It isn't the kind of centrism of the Democratic Party-- and even there, Lamb is far from the center and still close to the right-fringe among Dems. His lifetime ProgressivePunch score makes him the furthest right of the Pennsylvania Democrats, gives him an "F" score and makes him the 201 most progressive Democrat. There are 19 Democrats-- all Blue Dogs and New Dems-- with worse voting records than Lamb.
It could be worse. When Schumer recruited Kyrsten Sinema and cleared the field for her, she had the #1 worst voting record of any Democrat and she was the chair of the Blue Dogs. Lamb may have been a perfectly courageous member of the military but politically he is a complete coward-- something I've noticed again and again among veterans who have been elected to Congress. Lamb, did join the New Dems, has voted more often with the Blue Dogs than almost any other member of Congress but has been afraid to formally join the group for fear of the attached opprobrium. And his conservatism is not born out of the nature of his swing district (PVI is R+2) but out of his lack of character and lack of courage. In Pennsylvania, Matt Cartwright has a far redder district (R+5) and still manages to keep a ProgressivePunch grade of "A," while voting for the well-being of his constituents. Lamb basically votes with the GOP and conservative Democrats against the interests of his constituents.
This year, Schumer recruited Lamb to stop progressive Democrat John Fetterman from getting into the Senate. Lamb could never win a statewide race without a blue wave (which ain't comin'), but Schumer would prefer a Republican-- even a Trumpist psychopath-- than to see an independent minded fighter like Fetterman in "his" caucus. Lamb is a pussy-version of Sinema, exactly what Schumer is looking for.
Perhaps you read yesterday about how the Energy Sector's top Democrat, Joe Manchin, had not finished whittling down and making a mockery of the Democrats' attempt to deal with the Climate Crisis. Coral Davenport reported that he had now forced Biden and Schumer "to drop or weaken a second major climate change provision." She referred to him as a "centrist" in the same sense that Lamb is. He's hardly as the center of the Democratic Party. His voting is generally the number 1 worst of any Democrat in the Senate, although once in a while Simena grabs the title for a few days. Both have ProgressivePunch "F" ratings. Having already effectively succeeded in stripping the bill of its most powerful climate change provision, a program that would have rapidly shut down coal and gas-fired power plants and replaced them with wind and solar power, the latest part of Build Back Better he removed is a provision that would impose a fee on emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming pollutant that leaks from oil and gas wells." And then today, Politico reported that he also spiked funding an IRS expansion meant to force wealthy tax avoiders to strat paying.
And Schumer's candidates for the Senate-- not just Lamb, but basically all of them-- are from the Manchin-Sinema wing of the party-- craven, unaccomplished, corrupt to the gills, cowardly, utterly worthless... always disgusting DINOs. Thanks, Chuck Schumer for always opposing heroes and heroines. Chávez wrote that "During his time in Congress, Lamb has repeatedly bucked his own party to support a range of conservative positions, including anti-climate policies. But since launching his Senate campaign, Lamb has sought to rebrand himself as a more mainstream Democrat who will advocate for his party’s policy priorities-- all while distancing himself from his actual voting record and history in the House. In 2018, Lamb was one of 13 Democrats to vote for an amendment repealing an Obama-era clean water regulation known as Waters of the United States, and one of seven to oppose an amendment that would reduce fossil fuel research and development funds. He voted twice for GOP resolutions against implementing carbon taxes."
Most notably, Lamb is among the group of corporate House Democrats calling for the bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass without the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, gutting the core of President Joe Biden’s climate and social safety net agenda. While progressive House Democrats were “holding the line” in late September to try to preserve the Democratic agenda, Lamb was calling on his colleagues to vote yes on the infrastructure bill. “Trump promised & never delivered,” he tweeted. “We can deliver. Vote yes.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lamb has raked in tens of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry over the course of his political career. In the third fundraising quarter of 2021, the first quarter of his campaign, Lamb received $12,100 from fossil fuel executives and $11,550 from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. In the second quarter of the year, before officially announcing his campaign, he received $4,900 from industry executives and $6,250 from lobbyists for the industry. During the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, Lamb raised over $30,000 in campaign cash from fossil fuel industry employees and PACs, according to OpenSecrets, a group that tracks money in politics.
...Aside from his climate stances, Lamb has also joined Republicans in voting against other Democratic priorities, like decriminalizing marijuana, ending the war in Iraq, and delivering Covid-19 relief to undocumented immigrants. When Lamb first entered Congress, he voted with Trump’s position about 68 percent of the time. But these days, he’s a lot more careful about voting with his party. This year, he has voted with his fellow Democrats about 99 percent of the time. Whether the new Lamb will remain in existence beyond campaign season is anyone’s guess.
Does anyone seriously expect to see the Progressive Caucus put it's foot down and tank the bill? Of course not; everyone knows they are responsible legislators working to get the best deal they can but aware of the realism of nihilists like... not just the GOP but DINOs like Manchin and Sinema as well as the Schumer candidates like Lamb, Beasley (NC), Ryan (OH), Demings (FL), Finkenauer (IA) and Lord-only-knows which pile of house manure pretending to be a Democrat in Wisconsin. Monday, Andrew Perez wrote that "Democratic leaders are moving to gut the parts of the budget reconciliation bill that would aid workers and fight climate change. House progressives like Pramila Jayapal shouldn’t vote for an empty husk of a bill." Easy to say.
Over the past few days, Democrats dropped a pair of brutal news dumps indicating they intend to fully gut many of the progressive elements in president Joe Biden’s health care, climate, and anti-poverty reconciliation spending bill.
Now, it’s up to progressive lawmakers to ensure the final Biden agenda bill doesn’t end up a hollowed-out shell that won’t meaningfully help anyone.
Late on Friday, Politico reported that “congressional Democrats are watering down-- and may entirely drop-- a plan to have the government directly negotiate some Medicare drug prices in order to help clinch a deal on their sweeping social spending package.”
Yes, you read that right: In order to secure a deal with their own pharma-bankrolled party members, Democratic leaders are now insisting they need to water down or kill the drug pricing provisions that survey data show voters most want, and that the party has been promising those voters for fifteen years.
Politico further reported on Saturday that Democrats may also axe their plan to add dental, hearing, and vision benefits to Medicare, and may fully eliminate their already watered-down proposal to guarantee US workers have paid family and medical leave. The news follows reports that the Biden White House is ready to remove its clean electricity program from the reconciliation package in order to appease Democrats’ coal-baron senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
None of these developments should come as a surprise-- thanks to all the leeway progressives have provided to their conservative Democratic colleagues and their corporate masters.
Yes, progressives in the House recently stood firm against holding a vote on the lobbyist-sculpted bipartisan Senate infrastructure deal, a maneuver that kept the broader Biden agenda bill alive. But it was only a narrow victory, in part because progressives have steadfastly refused to make specific, public demands about what must be in the broader reconciliation bill to secure their votes-- giving corporate Democrats all the space they’ve needed to gut the legislation.
And when you look at the demands that progressives have made more quietly in press releases, it’s clear that party leaders believe they are not at the table but are instead on the menu.
...[P]rogressives will have to decide whether they want the Biden agenda bill to mean something, or if they’ll just go along for the ride, like they did earlier this year when Democrats axed their $15 national minimum wage as part of Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill.
...Democratic leaders clearly expect progressives to once again fold without a peep when they inevitably cast a gutted reconciliation bill as the only realistic measure they are able to pass.
The only way to change those expectations-- and to actually wield power-- is for CPC members to pledge to vote no on a hollowed-out shell, and finally make their demands clear. If they don’t, they’ll likely get rolled, and no barrage of tweets or press releases or email blasts will hide that avoidable outcome.
Problem with Perez's analysis, of course, is that Manchin and Sinema are not bluffing and don't care one iota if the whole package gets flushed down the toilet with Biden and the Democrats' congressional majorities or not. Progressives do. So... the American people are screwed, again.
Today Bernie came as close as anyone could to saying-- and meaning it-- that he's not going to accept a husk of a bill and that it must include lower prescription drug prices and expanded Medicare. "Bottom line is that any reconciliation bill must include serious negotiations on the part of Medicare with the pharmaceutical industry, lower the cost of prescription drugs. That's what the American people want... [and] must include expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses."