Other Than "Lesser Evil"-- Which Is Kind Of Abstract-- Is There Any Reason For Low-Info Voters To Back Dems Next Year?
Whether it's McCarthy and McConnell or Pelosi and Schumer, what congressional leadership wants in candidates are followers, not leaders. Members with independent minds are a nightmare for them. I wouldn't be surprised if Schumer is actually now sorry he forced Sinema on Arizona Democrats. But Schumer is certainly at it again-- aggressively recruiting a bunch of nothing, weak candidates, from Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina to Florida's Val Demings, Tim Ryan in Ohio and Iowa laughingstock Abby Finkenauer.
Today, Biden's whole domestic agenda-- as well as any slim chance for a success of the Democratic Party in the midterms-- rests in the hands of a few corrupt conservative Democrats, Manchin and Sinema in the Senate and Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Ed Case (Blue Dog-HI), Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and a few others working with the corporate PAC-controlled and financed No Labels.
Pelosi is, once again, trying to decouple the shitty, inadequate and vision-free conservative hard infrastructure bill from the social spending bill being sabotaged by the conservatives. Yesterday, the Punchbowl crew had to stifle their laughter when writing "For months, [Pelosi] said they were part of a 'two-track process' and had to be voted on together. Now Pelosi is essentially saying 'Let’s pass the infrastructure bill and trust us on the rest.'"
Sure, trust Pelosi. I wouldn't trust either her capacity nor her intentions at this point. Pelosi most recently claimed that she thought progressives would settle for a framework for a vote on the budget reconciliation package before voting on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure deal, but Pramila Jayapal and progressive leaders have been adamant throughout that they will hold the line by voting on the infrastructure package only after the House first votes to approve the reconciliation. I think Pelosi's top primary opponent, Shahid Buttar, sees it the same way I do. He told me her comments "about the budget reconciliation process are disingenuous, and it’s disappointing to see so many journalists fall for her ruse. Pelosi has been working to kneecap Biden’s agenda from the shadows while ironically claiming credit for its passage through the House after Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus forced her hand. Manchin and Sinema have drawn most attention as roadblocks to the presidents agenda, but Pelosi has been playing both sides from the beginning. She has consistently mouthed support for Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, while repeatedly setting up roadblocks to undermine the budget reconciliation package at its core. Each of the legislative deadlines that she established (before later abandoning them in the face of progressive insistence) were roadblocks. Pelosi’s more recent invitation to progressives to abandon their previous posture presents another roadblock. There is a widespread and mounting consensus on the need for and expansive response to the pandemic, climate chaos, and collapsing infrastructure. Democratic leaders should be supporting that widely shared goal, rather than working at cross purposes to delay and hamstring it. And yet again, we see the impact of journalists largely lacking the independence to analyze facts, and the predictable political consequences of their sad willingness to settle for stenography rather than journalism."
Politico's Playbook yesterday noted that although the leadership was all about happy-talk and progress, the only progress is allowing Manchin and Sinema to shred the bill and make it into a big nothing-burger. They wrote that Bernie was very irritated and said he didn't think was an agreement to move forward or that there would bene imminently. "Without naming them, he the said that Sinema and Manchin have 'sabotaged' any agreement on taxes: “I’m not quite clear in terms of the revenue package. Every sensible revenue option seems to be destroyed. Should we raise corporate tax rates, personal income taxes for the very wealthy? Of course, we should. But at least one person in the caucus doesn’t want to do that. Should we demand that the billionaires have to pay their fair share of taxes? Yes. There’s another person who doesn’t want to do that. So it seems to me almost every sensible progressive revenue option that the president wants and the American people want, and that I want, seems to be sabotaged."
This is the other side of "independent-minded," best described as "bought-off" and "corrupt," as conservative always are as a matter of definition. Are Sinema and any worse than Republicans and Trump? The Democratic Party would like you to think so-- if just lesser evils. But it isn't how I see it. Take Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, for example. He's the only Democrat remaining in the House who voted against raising the minimum wage-- the other 5 Blue Dogs who voted with the GOP to vote against the minimum wage, were promptly defeated at the polls 4 months later. This year it will be Schrader's turn, who wasn't just resting on his laurels but who led the House conservative Dems in opposition to lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
North Carolina Senate candidate Erica Smith-- the only progressive in the race-- told me last night that "If we were ever going to build back better, we were going to have to build back bigger. Initial proposals from Senator Sanders and the progressive caucus did just that, but now, week after week, we've seen this proposal get stripped down by conservative Democrats who've been bought and paid for by corporations. We didn't win this majority by promising to nibble around the edges. We didn't win by telling folks that they'd just have to defer their dreams of being able to afford a higher education or raise their kids without the threat of poverty or homelessness. The stripping down of essential measures such as paid family leave, free community college, and medicare benefits expansion is bad politics and cruel public policy. Too many members of congress right now are fighting for special interests instead of their constituents. Too many members of congress are just sitting on the sidelines while the legislative fight of our lifetimes is taking place. We need to elect representatives who'll do more than just keep a seat warm. We need leaders, people who have lived the struggle and will rise up every single day and fight tirelessly for those who need it most, not sell out to corporations and special interests. The Manchin/Sinema wing of the Democratic party is too large and too powerful. We're feeling that right now. In 2022, let's do everything in our power to make their votes obsolete. Let's expand and strengthen the progressive caucus and end the days where we negotiate against ourselves at the expense of the poor, the working poor, and the barely middle class." Make sense to you? You can contribute to Erica's campaign here.
Yesterday one corporate group began running over a million dollars worth of ads to mislead TV viewers about the proposed-- probably already dead courtesy of Manchin and Sinema-- modest increases in corporate taxes:
So... what about some of the scumbags in the House who have been working with Manchin and Sinema-- like Hawaii Blue Dog Ed Case? I asked the progressive candidate running for the Honolulu based seat, Sergio Alcubilla if he had any idea why Case is pushing against Biden policies that are so popular with his own constituents. He acknowledged that "Case is working against the best interests of his constituents because many of his donors are nothing like your average family in Hawai‘i-- priced out of affording a home. They're not the seniors on Medicare worried about affording medication, and they're not the new parent needing paid parental leave to take care of their newborn. His donors represent corporate interests and those that have worked to sabotage President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda. If you are a family trying to find affordable child care, you should be mad. If you are a senior worried about how you will be spending your retirement years, you should be mad. Mad at Rep. Case for continuing to sell us out. He may talk a good talk, but he surely does not walk the walk and it's time we shine a light on who he really answers to. In Congress, I know clearly who I will be fighting for and who I will be accountable to. I can look a new parent in the eye with a clear conscience and tell them I fought for affordable child care, paid parental leave, and quality pre-school education. My legal career has stood for our working families, for our seniors, and for our most vulnerable. I will continue to walk with them, always have and always will."
And what about California Blue Dog Lou Correa? I asked Mike Ortega, the proud Orange County progressive taking on Correa if he had any idea why Correa is pushing against Biden policies that are so popular with his own constituents. "Correa," he responded, "has been in public office for nearly 25 years and has chosen profits over people time and time again. If I didn’t know any better I’d believe him when I hear his explanations for these votes-- he says he’s looking out for the best interests for the economy at large. That’s a conservative talking point that is disingenuous. Sure, he’s not as terrible as the GOP on social issues, but the distinction here becomes clear. Being a member of any major party doesn’t signal that your intentions are to focus on fighting for working people. CA-46 is getting the chance to vote for someone that will fight with them now. It’s time to throw business as usual-- protecting economic prosperity for the wealthy few-- to the curb." Please consider giving Mike and Sergio a hand in replacing the reactionary Blue Dogs they're taking on by clicking the 2022 Primary a Blue Dog thermometer above (or by clicking on this link).