Over the weekend, the NY Times made it official: Biden's domestic agenda is in limbo, exactly what McConnell and the GOP wanted before the midterms... and their goal was achieved without much effort on their part. Today on Fox's Sunday Morning Futures, neo-fascist Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said "I hope for Democrat gridlock. Oftentimes, in Washington, D.C., gridlock is the better alternative, but when it's Democrat gridlock, pray for it. I hope that's exactly what happens." Republicans have Manchin and Sinema in the Senate and Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Ed Case (Blue Dog-HI), Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA) and the rest of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in the House, doing their dirty work for them and saving them from the public opprobrium they would face from independents and swing voters. Instead it's the Democratic Party that appears to be a dysfunctional mess.
Emily Cochrane wrote that "Polls show that individual components of the legislation-- including increasing federal support of paid leave, elder care and child care to expanding public education-- are popular among voters. But beyond being aware of a price tag that is already shrinking, few voters can track what is still in contention to be part of the final package, as the process is shrouded in private negotiations...The most potent plan to replace coal and gas-fired plants with wind, nuclear and solar energy, for example, is likely to be dropped because of Manchin’s opposition, but White House and congressional staff are cobbling together alternatives to cut emissions that could be added to the plan. Liberals remain insistent that the bill-- initially conceived as a cradle-to-grave social safety net overhaul on par with the Great Society of the 1960s-- include as many programs as possible, while more [conservative] lawmakers have called for large investments in just a few key initiatives."
Writing for the Washington Post earlier today, E.J. Dionne asserted that Our System Is Biased Against Reform. Get Used To It, Democrats. Democrats don't have to get used to it; they're part of that anti-reform bias. Young people, who may have been looking towards the Democratic Party as part of the solution... now they are the audience Dionne should be addressing. "Democrats," wrote Dionne, "are a maddening bunch, especially to their supporters. A party that should be celebrating its efforts to expand health coverage, help families with children, build roads and fight climate change is instead engaged in a messy and increasingly angry confrontation over how much it can and should accomplish."
He puts the blame on Manchin and Sinema and never mentions the Blue Dogs or the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Neither Manchin nor Sinema will be on the ballot next year but scumbags like Kurt Schrader, Ed Case, Lou Correa, Henry Cuellar-- and others-- are facing strong viable progressive primary opponents, who establishment journalists-- sorry, E.J.-- will never mention.
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, the progressive taking on corrupt conservative Blue Dog Kurt Schrader in central Oregon, told me this evening that "It's hard for people to understand the devastation and cost of human life that this seemingly innocuous decision by Manchin will lead to. If we do not dramatically reduce our GHG emissions in this country, in very short order, the eventual death toll will cause all previous genocides and pandemics to pale in comparison. As a matter of fact, the likely death toll from the climate run amok will outpace ALL the genocidal tyrants and pandemics COMBINED. It's impossible to lay all of that at the feet of corrupt, immoral politicians like Joe Manchin and Kurt Schrader. The Coal, Oil and Gas barrons have a lot to answer for. But this is a pivotal moment, this is one of those last ditch efforts, that if it fails, will go down in history as a time when humans CHOSE to doom billions of other humans to early death by starvation, fire and flood. I only hope that those responsible will join the lists of people like Mao Ze-Dong, Adolf Hitler and Jozef Stalin."
If Democrats compromise at, say, $2 trillion or $2.5 trillion, a lot of good programs will still have to be cut or thrown over the side. They’re popular not just among liberals but also with moderate voters and many of Donald Trump’s supporters.
For the life of me, I can’t see how it helps middle-of-the-road Democrats in swing districts to do less to help beleaguered households with child-care and elder-care costs, or less to expand health coverage and to beef up Medicare benefits, or less to contain the obvious and dangerous warming of our planet.
Nor is it good for any Democrat to have these priorities set off against each other in a legislative cage match. Those whose programs are lost or gutted will feel very bruised.
...[I]t’s important to acknowledge another reality that goes beyond Manchin, Sinema and the Democratic Party as a whole: Severe structural problems in our politics and institutions are making it far harder to solve problems-- and to have productive debates over how to do so.
We can begin with a Republican Party that, except on physical infrastructure, has largely taken itself out of the business of dealing with social challenges. Ross Douthat, the constructively conservative columnist for the New York Times, recently invoked a dream of how Democrats and Republicans might have had a creative conversation on family policy.
But even as he laid out the arguments and trade-offs, Douthat conceded that Republicans “most interested in family policy”-- Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Josh Hawley (MO), for example-- have “the strongest incentives” not to work with Democrats, namely their “desire to be president someday.”
The GOP’s evasion of responsibility and growing radicalism mean that debates that once took place between the parties are now forced to happen inside the Democratic Party. Manchin and Sinema are stand-ins for the moderate conservatives of yore.
In September, Manchin offered a provocative challenge to progressives fighting for a larger program. “Elect more liberals,” he instructed them. It’s a goal I embrace wholeheartedly, except that the Senate is structurally biased against liberals and Democrats.
And that bias begins with something I'm certain Dionne has never once considered-- the role that Schumer has been playing since at least 2006, preventing progressives from winning Democratic nominations and instead handpicking conservatives and generally crap candidates like Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Joe Donnelly (IN), Jacky Rosen (NV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Kay Hagan (NC) who won and got into the Senate only to crap all over the party brand or garbage like Brad Ellsworth (IN), Patrick Murphy (FL), Cal Cunningham (NC), Charles Melancon (LA), Ted Strickland (OH), Katie McGinty (PA), Sara Gideon (ME), Kendrick Meek (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Shelley Berkley (NV), MJ Hegar (TX), Bob Kerrey (NE), Alexi Giannoulias (IL), Amy McGrath (KY), Jaime Harrison (SC), Theresa Greenfield (IA), Travis Childers (MS), Evan Bayh (IN) Barbara Bollier (KS) and Michelle Nunn (GA), who all ran as status quo defenders and lost. And he's doing it again, of course with crap candidates like Conor Lamb (PA), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Tim Ryan (OH), Cheri Beasley (NC), Val Demings (FL)... 2022's offerings from the Sinema-Manchin wing.
Dionne wrote that he consulted with "political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, co-authors of the justly celebrated 2018 book, How Democracies Die. Both speak with deep worry about the anti-majoritarian nature of the American system with a Senate and electoral college that vastly underrepresent urban and suburban voters as well as racial and ethnic minorities. This gets in the way of governing, they argue, creating forms of instability that could threaten democracy itself. It also weakens the influence of more moderate voices within conservatism and the Republican Party. All of which means that Democrats are effectively running what would be a coalition government in countries with multiparty systems-- but without the disciplines that formal coalition agreements typically impose in advance on an alliance’s various components. Democrats are making their deals on the fly, and it shows."