A case can be made that there are worse Democrats in the House than corrupt Oregon reactionary Kurt Schrader, a prominent Blue Dog. But it would be a difficult case to be made, even against fellow Blue Dogs like Henry Cuellar (TX), Jim Costa (CA), Josh Gottheimer (NJ) Ed Case (HI) and Jared Golden (ME) or right-wing New Dems like Scott Peters (CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY) and Rick Larsen (WA). Unlike all of the awful conservatives just listed, all of them on the take, Schrader is the only Democrat still in Congress who voted against raising the minimum wage. The tiny handful of other conservative Dems who voted to kill the raise-- Xochitl Torres-Small (NM), Ben Adams (UT), Kendra Horn (OK), Joe Cunningham (SC) and Anthony Brindisi (NY)-- were all immediately defeated in their reelection bids, as each richly deserved to be. Schrader managed to escape that time but since then, he also voted against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, while taking substantial bribes from Big PhRMA. You might want to consider contributing to his progressive opponent this cycle, Jamie McLeod-Skinner here.
"Schrader," McLeod-Skinner told me this morning, "not only ignores how badly people are hurting, he is actively promoting legislation that harms our working families and our environment. Schrader's enormous privilege shields him from the hardships our families are experiencing from the pandemic, and his lobbyists and corporate PAC donors are paying him to actively work against our interests." He has been working to kill Biden's Build Back Better plan right from the start. This morning the Washington Post caught him mouthing Republican Party propaganda, as he does so frequently: "People are scared of an overreaching agenda at this point in time. We spent a lot of money-- and good money-- by Republicans and Democrats... I‘m going to be campaigning on and talking about the work we’ve actually already done. It’d be nice to do a big broader piece, but if this is not exactly the time, so be it."
The Post reporter on the case, Marianna Sotomayor, noted that "While there is a fear of depressing voter enthusiasm for years if Democrats cannot deliver on promises they have made over the last decade, front-line members believe there is an even greater risk in failing to further convince skeptical voters that they have not done enough." Schrader is trying to pass himself off as a well-meaning front-line Democrat. He isn't. He's a corrupt scumbag and the congressional Democrats' #1 enemy of working class families.
Sotomayor's point is that House Dems in competitive districts-- although Schrader's is more competitive in a primary than in a general-- are clamoring to abandon Build Back Better as part of a "midterm strategy" and instead just pursue a few pieces that appeal to conservative voters. These New Dems and Blue Dogs have no interested in passing a "the potentially transformative giant package," which Sinema and Manchin are blocking in the Senate.
Wednesday Pelosi had a meeting with frontliners at the DCCC headquarters. Members would prefer passing bills congratulations mothers who bak apple pies than bills related to transformative change. Minnesota New Dem Angie Craig from the suburbs south of the Twin Cities "suggested that until there is a resolution in the Senate on the social spending plan, House leadership should be bringing bills to the floor that are top of mind for constituents like keeping schools open, addressing inflation and increasing testing supplies to combat ongoing pandemic woes. Even if the bills face no chance of passage in the Senate, members argued that it is still time well spent so they can have an arsenal of proof for voters that House Democrats are meeting the moment and addressing their concerns."
On the other hand, progressives-- what Sotomayor calls "the ascendant left wing of the party"-- are still fighting for the bill, popular among voters, unpopular among the donor class and billionaires, who understand that it would include raising their tax rates. Spineless "moderates" (Democraps) ought to take polling like this into account, including front-liners. This goes directly to the kinds of candidates voters-- across the board-- are looking for. Even a plurality of Republicans say they would vibe more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for Build Back Better:
Pramila and Bernie are aggressively not giving up and take every opportunity to push back on the notion. This morning, in regard to another issue, Pramila reminded me that, in her words, "Courage is contagious!" Sotomayor understands that as wetland wrote that "many of [the BBB] provisions have also been embraced by a number of moderate House Democrats from conservative-leaning districts who are increasingly anxious about their pitch to voters. The efforts by these swing-district Democrats also underscore their growing alarm over whether they can hang onto their slim, five-vote House majority. There are more than two dozen members in the front-liners group, many of them from suburban areas that soured on Trump in the last two elections. But Biden’s approval is low, and last year’s strong election for Republicans showed how quickly those gains could be eroded."
That's a reference to Virginia, where the Democrats nominated the ultimate uninspiring political hack, Terry McAuliffe, who ran a gaffe-pocked "moderate" campaign that put many Democrats to sleep and independents to sleep. It's amazing he was even able toehold Youngkin to just 50.6% of the vote, the narrowest margin in a Virginia gubernatorial election since1989. Youngkin won in the congressional districts held by Virginia's two most conservative Democrats, Blue Dog Abigail Spanberger and New Dem Elaine Luria. Trump lost Spanberger's district by a point and lost Luria's district by almost 5 points. These two are squawking the loudest for help.
In interviews, front-liners said they are trying to get ahead of Manchin’s next blockade by devising contingency plans as Democratic leaders work on narrowing the bill to appease him.
Some members were on board with the narrow proposal Manchin presented to the White House last month that included funding for universal prekindergarten, making Affordable Care Act subsidies permanent, billions in climate spending and a billionaire tax. The Biden administration rejected the offer after it failed to include the overwhelmingly popular child tax credit and racial equity initiatives that Democrats wanted.
“We have to do something, even if it’s just one thing like universal pre-K and universal child care. We have to do something, politically, to give us something to run on,” said one senior Democratic aide to a front-line member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly.
Members believe it is entirely possible to strip out the prescription drug and the child tax credit provisions and pass them as stand-alone bills because some Senate Republicans have previously expressed supporting reforms. However, there has not been any formal outreach to Republicans for a bipartisan path forward and no guarantee that the necessary 10 would support these policies.
As one of the few liberal front-liners among many [conservatives], Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) made the progressive pitch for Biden to begin considering passing parts of the Build Back Better Act through executive order. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the coalition of liberals led by Jayapal, is currently discussing among themselves which provisions they believe Biden could take unilateral action on with little chance of legal challenges, a recommendation they anticipate announcing in the coming weeks.
But there is an acknowledgment across the ideological spectrum that executive orders would not be enough to ensure priorities remain in place, especially if a Republican administration can one day undo them.
Another group of front-liners believe it is time to shift their focus from the social spending plan to the infrastructure law and other legislative achievements.
That's where conservatives like Schrader, Case, Costa, Gottheimer, Correa, Peters, Cuellar and other corrupt Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party come in. They're too scared to talk out loud about killing the bill, but that's exactly what they have been working to do. May I suggest you tap on the thermometer on the left and help replace them with strong, values-driven progressives. Not any blue will do-- especially not before the primaries. Working to keep drug prices high is something you expect from Republicans-- and your expectations are fulfilled-- always. But Democrats? How can they even call themselves Democrats if they work to kill fair drug prices? And it is during primary season that we have our best chance to get rid of them and replace them with someone better.