It's Never Too Soon To Stand Up For Ourselves
Georgia's Q-Anon crackpot didn't wait for too many hours before filing an impeachment resolution against Joe Biden. She's as bad as it gets. But that doesn't make Biden any better.
Progressives are as happy as anyone that Trump and his rancid team and family are gone. That doesn't make the trans-partisan establishment that rules in Washington any better. This is still a country governed by elites looking out for their own class interests and crushing working people under their heels. When Ben Burgis, who openly admits he voted for Biden in November, wrote Get Ready To Fight Joe Biden yesterday plenty of people said it is too soon. They're wrong; it isn't. As he wrote, with Trump gone, democratic socialists' "task now is to build a democratic socialist alternative to Joe Biden-- and to oppose the Democratic establishment’s neoliberal agenda... But now that Trump has vacated the Oval Office, the Left should resist the temptation to position ourselves as a pressure group within a permanent coalition with centrists. If we see our role as 'pushing Biden to the left' inside the mainstream Democratic fold rather than offering a robust alternative, we risk ceasing to exist as a distinct political current.
The only way to win social democracy in the United States-- never mind anything more ambitious-- is to elect hundreds of AOCs and Rashida Tlaibs to Congress and build a massive working-class movement.
We’ll never get there by acting like loyal foot soldiers of the Biden administration, focusing our fire only on Republican obstructionists, and treating social democratic policies as friendly suggestions for the Democratic leadership.
One of Bernie Sanders’s greatest assets was his ambiguous partisan status. As his enemies never ceased to remind us, he was an independent who caucused with Democrats in the Senate-- he wasn’t a “real Democrat.” This was sometimes a liability in Democratic presidential primaries, but it contributed to his massive popularity with the wider public.
Burgis advocates drawing "clear bright lines between what workers desperately need and what the Biden Administration is willing to give them. We can’t deny the obvious reality of Republican obstruction, but instead of fixating on it, we should emphasize what the new administration could do if it wanted to. If Biden [had] embraced Medicare for All, it’s unlikely it would pass the House-- where it’s opposed by all Republicans and about half of Democrats-- and certain that it wouldn’t get through the Senate. But if Biden [had] used his inaugural address to advocate it as an urgent necessity during the pandemic, the kinds of arguments Democrats and Republicans would be having for the next two years, ahead of the midterms, would be very different. He [didn't] do that because he doesn’t want to do it... To achieve the reforms we need, we must focus our energy not on lobbying centrists to be more social democratic but on building a Left that can beat them in the near future-- and govern in our own name. If that goal is our lodestar, our task is clear: to draw unambiguous contrasts at every turn."
At the same time The Intercept published Burgis, The Guardian published a piece by Bernie, Joe Biden must put an end to business as usual. Here's where to start. "In this moment of unprecedented crises," he wrote, "Congress and the Biden administration must respond through unprecedented action. No more business as usual. No more same old, same old. Democrats, who will now control the White House, the Senate and the House, must summon the courage to demonstrate to the American people that government can effectively and rapidly respond to their pain and anxiety. As the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee that is exactly what I intend to do. What does all of this mean for the average American?"
It means that we aggressively crush the pandemic and enable the American people to return to their jobs and schools. This will require a federally led emergency program to produce the quantity of vaccines that we need and get them into people’s arms as quickly as possible.
It means that during the severe economic downturn we’re experiencing, we must make sure that all Americans have the financial resources they need to live with dignity. We must increase the $600 in direct payments for every working-class adult and child that was recently passed to $2,000, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expand unemployment benefits and prevent eviction, homelessness and hunger.
It means that, during this raging pandemic, we must guarantee healthcare to all. We must also end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave to workers.
It means making pre-kindergarten and childcare universal and available to every family in America.
Despite what you may have heard, there is no reason why we cannot do all of these things. Through budget reconciliation, a process that only requires a majority vote in the Senate, we can act quickly and pass this emergency legislation.
But that is not enough. This year we must also pass a second reconciliation bill that deals with the major structural changes that our country desperately needs. Ultimately, we must confront the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality and create a country that works for all and not just the few. Americans should no longer be denied basic economic rights that are guaranteed to people in virtually every other major country.
This means using a second reconciliation bill to create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and constructing affordable housing, modernizing our schools, combatting climate change and making massive investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
It means making public colleges, universities, trade schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities tuition-free and forcefully addressing the outrageous level of student debt for working families.
And it means making the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes. We cannot continue to allow profitable corporations like Amazon to make billions of dollars in taxes and pay nothing in net federal income taxes. And billionaires cannot be allowed to pay a lower tax rate than working-class Americans. We need real tax reform.
There is no reason Joe Biden could not sign into law two major bills that will accomplish most of the goals I listed above within the first 100 days of the new Congress. We cannot allow Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership to sabotage legislation that would improve the lives of millions of working Americans and is wildly popular.
Let us never forget. When Republicans controlled the Senate, they used the reconciliation process to pass trillions of dollars in tax breaks primarily to the top 1% and multinational corporations. Further, they were able to confirm three rightwing US supreme court judges over a very short period of time by a simple majority vote.
If the Republicans could use the reconciliation process to protect the wealthy and the powerful, we can use it to protect working families, the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the poor.