A couple days ago Nicole Sandler called to talk with me about what points we should go over on her radio show. I suggested we discuss how badly the Democratic Party sucks and how they are committing political suicide in the lead up to the midterms. The party never learns how toxic it is-- both in terms of policy and strategy-- to negotiate with itself in order to please Republicans who will oppose them and call them socialists no matter how far to the right they move.
This morning Senate Democrats agreed to stab their voters in the back again-- this time by lowering federal unemployment benefits from $400 a week to $300 a week. Tom Carper (D-DE), a Biden ally and one of the most conservative, anti-working class Democrats in the Senate, wrote the amendment with the connivance of Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Angus King (I-ME).
The Punchbowl crew started the day off by noting how "Biden and this all-Democratic Washington are creating laws at a slow pace compared to previous one-party governments. In 2017, when Donald Trump and Republicans ran everything in D.C., they had gotten eight bills into law by this time. And Trump came into office under the cloud of the Russia investigation. In 2009, when Democrats controlled all of Washington, Barack Obama had signed five bills into law by this time, including the $787-billion stimulus package. (And $787 billion seems miniscule compared to what we’re talking about now.) This slower pace is, in part, due to the fact that Democrats didn’t have the Senate majority until Jan. 20. That delayed the organizing of the Senate. And then they lost time over a deadly insurrection at the Capitol, followed by Trump’s impeachment. But this is slow, no doubt about it. Cabinet noms are slow, as well. Biden has issued a blizzard of executive orders and actions, demonstrating that his aides knew they were likely to get off to a slow start on Capitol Hill. But you can already hear Republicans starting to beat this drum. It will change if and when the American Rescue Plan passes, but pushing this complex of a bill out of the gate in a narrowly divided Congress has been a big risk. We’ll see if the payoff is worth it."
Progressives aren't happy with the way conservative Democrats are advancing right-wing corporate priorities. When Bernie introduced the $15 minimum wage amendment it wasn't just Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin voting with the Republicans to prevent it and maintain poverty wages. They were joined by Biden's two Delaware allies Chris Coons and Tom Carper, the two conservaDems from New Hampshire-- Jeannine Shaheen and Maggie Hassan-- as well as Jon Tester (MT) and Angus King (I-ME).
This afternoon, New Mexico state Senator and congressional candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez told me that "I don't think the party understands how important it is that we deliver on policies and laws that will further a vision of a country with no poverty, healthcare, opportunities to thrive educationally and spiritually, a clean environment and equity and justice for all. If we don't deliver, our constituents will get frustrated and will give up on us. Our country will not move forward with maintaining the status quo. We need to represent the people and what they need NOW. I don't understand what moderates get out of slowing our progress down."
Shervin Aazami, the progressive candidate in the San Fernando Valley, was outraged this morning. "Do the Democrats," he asked, "want to lose in 2022? What a shameful, inexcusable no vote-- right on the heels of deciding to lower unemployment benefits from $400 to $300. Do these 8 Senate Democrats have any clue the pain working people are going through? Are they ignorant or apathetic? The combined net worth of these 8 Democrats is over $43 million. Their denial of a pay raise for 32 million people is class warfare, pure and simple. House progressives better stick together and demand the $15 minimum wage and $400 unemployment benefits stay in the package once this goes to conference. This is absurd."
Jason Call, the progressive candidate in northwest Washington state, had similar questions. "What I fail to understand is the constant excuse making of the administration as to why they can’t move forward on the assistance that is critically needed by the American people. If you’re paying attention to social media, you see how divided the Democratic Party is on the inaction, which represents how divided we are economically-- some of us struggling to survive and fighting for our lives, and some of us comfortable in our income, housing, healthcare and retirement. The Democratic Party is revealing itself to be the party of the very comfortable, not the huddled masses.Can you imagine LBJ telling the American People that he couldn’t get Medicare done because of Ways and Means Committee chair Wilbur Mills (D), or that he couldn’t get Civil Rights done because of Strom Thurmond and the Southern bloc of Dixiecrats? No-- he used his bully pulpit, he leaned on people, he used or ignored procedural options to the benefit of his administrative goals. Biden is doing none of that. One can only wonder why."
Yesterday, as though almost anticipating Jason's questions, Stephen Crockett, writing for The Root, noted that Biden was narrowing stimulus eligibility-- ensuring some 12 million won't receive payments-- because he's a punk. His own question was "What the fuck, Joe?" Crockett wrote that "Biden’s first piece of substantial legislation, the first piece of meaningful legislation that he will pass in these coronavirus times, the piece of legislation he promised voters, is going to short some 12 million people out of money that they were eligible for under the worst president in American history. And here is the part that really stings: It’s not as if this money has been moved around to fund struggling businesses or to pay off past debt, this is just a cut. A straight-up razor to those who fall outside of the self-imposed limits. And I don’t know who thought this was a good idea. Did the Biden administration not witness the hellfire that was the Trump administration? Did the Biden administration not see how badly the Trump administration fucked the rest of the country? Part of the reason we are still wearing face condoms is because of the fucking Trump administration and its lax response to this deadly virus. And the first thing that Biden does is cave to moderate Democrats who imposed limits on who receives money in a fucking pandemic? For all of Biden’s tough-guy bullshit, Biden got punked. He’s been punked throughout this entire process. When Biden met with centrist Democrats a month ago and it was proposed that stimulus payments end at $50,000 a year, Biden was with this, too-- until backlash led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) forced him to change his stance... I guess when Biden talked about being a bridge, he meant letting fake Democrats walk all over his back because it’s looking like the president is willing to sacrifice his voters for bipartisanship, which apparently in the Biden administration means kowtowing to those in your own party that don’t share the views of the people."
Ally Dalsimer, another progressive taking on a "moderate" status quo Democrat-- Gerry Connolly in northern Virginia-- closed the discussion like this: "Everyone knows that actions speak louder than words. Every delay, every reduction in aid to the American people, every soundbite excuse highlights in stark relief that we're on a path back to the same failed policies that led us to having Trump as a president. There are a small minority of truly progressive voices who have recently been trying hard to change the course of the corporate interest driven Democratic Party, but they are too few. There is no way that anyone who truly represented working people would be pussy-footing around with funding delays and diminishments. It's unacceptable. 'Representatives' should represent-- if they don't, they should be voted out."