Why Can't We Have Nice Things? Conservative Politicians Reeking Of Corruption
Whether Joe Manchin's private jet landing in Lexington, Kentukcy yesterday signaled a meeting with McConnell to discuss his defection to the GOP or not, is unclear. What is clear at this moment is what Manchin wants-- basically the same thing Sinema and other, quieter Senate conservative Democrats like Mark Warner and Maggie Hassan want-- a drastically reduced reconciliation package and protection against increased taxes for the wealthy. To be fair, that's always what the corrupt Manchin-Sinema wing of the party has wanted. Before getting into that, let me just warn you again, that Schumer only recruits and backs nominees who fit that conservative profile-- Cheri Beasely and Jeff Jackson in North Carolina, Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, Val Demings in Florida, Abby Finkenauer in Iowa, Tim Ryan in Ohio...
This morning, Axios posted a "scoop" by Hans Nichols: Manchin's demands. He wants to cut down the immensely popular $3.5 trillion package to something between $1 and $1.5 trillion. Other than Sinema, it's unclear how many other Democrats feel the same way, although, at the minimum, he's getting moral support from Mark Warner (VA), Maggie Hassan (NH), Tom Carper (DE), Jon Tester (MT), Chris Coons (DE), Jacky Rosen (NV) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH). [Increasingly senile California Senator Dianne Feinstein isn't lucid enough to support or oppose anything and there are conflicting reports about where her team stands.] But it doesn't matter; all it takes is one vote in a 50-50 Senate to derail the whole project. Manchin is in a perfect bargaining position to get what he wants.
Nichols wrote that "Underlying Manchin’s concerns with Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget proposal, which originated in Sen. Bernie Sanders' budget committee, are deep and substantive differences over the size and scope of specific programs. Manchin has voiced concerns about Biden’s plan to spend $400 billion for home caregivers. He's also talking about means testing on other key proposals, including extending the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which provides up to an additional $300 per child per month, free community college, universal preschool and child care tax credits. And he’s skeptical that so-called dynamic scoring-- which Democrats embraced as a way to offset some costs of hard infrastructure spending-- can be applied to “human” or “soft” infrastructure proposals. For years, Republicans have relied on dynamic scoring to argue that tax cuts can pay for themselves in the long run, by growing the economy and therefore increasing revenues."
Presumably Nichols' conclusion is supposed to be "good news."
"Sanders wanted a large number and Manchin wants a smaller number and we’re going to work this process to try to reach common ground," said one source familiar with the White House's thinking. "There is a wide spectrum of opinions in the Democratic caucuses, and plenty of negotiation will take place. But we will continue to get this done, finding common ground."
And that brings us to another example of why we should be nominating and electing men and women like Erica Smith (NC), Alan Grayson (FL), Morgan Harper (OH), Lucas Kunce (MO), John Fetterman (PA), Tom Nelson (WI) instead of more crap candidates from the Manchin-Sinema wing of the party. If Abby Finkenauer, one of the most disastrous Iowa House members in living memory, were in the Senate now, we wouldn't just be flipping out over Manchin and Sinema, we'd be flipping out of Manchin, Sinema and Finkenauer. Anyway, what I wanted to emphasize today is some of the most popular pieces of the Biden agenda that Manchin and Sinema are blocking-- those that support American families.
Judd Legum featured the treatment conservatives have been meting out to American families over the decades. "There are many kinds of family leave, but the most common is paid maternity leave for new mothers. Among the 38 developed countries, generally defined as the members of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only the United States has no paid maternity leave at the national level. Among other OECD countries, a group that includes the European Union, Japan, Australia, and the UK, the average paid maternity leave benefit was 51 weeks in 2018... After decades of inaction, there is a real opportunity this year for the United States to finally provide paid leave to working families. But the proposal faces fierce opposition from corporations, Republicans, and even some Democrats." By even some Democrats, he's talking about the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Manchin and Sinema in the Senate and No Labels' so-called "Unbreakable 9" (or 10) in the House lead by anti-worker reactionaries Josh Gottheimer, Henry Cuellar and Kurt Schrader in the House. What Legum asks is "Why can every other developed country afford to have paid family leave, except the United States?"
While the United States continues to offer no national paid family leave, other OECD countries have expanded their programs. The length of paid maternity leave continues to grow. Mothers in Finland now receive 161 weeks of paid leave. And more OECD countries are offering similar benefits to fathers. Korea and Japan provide a full year of paid paternity leave to new fathers. On average, OECD countries now provide more than 9 weeks of paid paternity leave.
Paid family leave reflects the reality of the modern world-- most parents also have a full-time job. Other OECD countries have invested in paid family leave because of substantial benefits to parents, children, and the economy. The potential benefits in the United States become clear by comparing the handful of states that offer paid family leave-- including California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington-- to the nation as a whole.
A 2017 study found "access to paid parental leave enables parents to spend more time with their children at or around the time of childbirth, which can advance childhood health and development." Paid family leave "is associated with a reduction in low birth weight babies and lower rates of infant and child mortality, controlling for income and other factors that affect children’s health." The potential benefits extend far into the future. Children from families with access to paid maternity leave had "lower high school dropout rates and higher wages...at age 30."
There are also broader economic benefits. The National Partnership for Women and Families found "paid leave programs improve the labor force participation of family caregivers, reduce the likelihood that new mothers would fall into poverty and increase household incomes, and mean working people are significantly less likely to use SNAP or other public support programs in the year after a child’s birth."
...Paid family leave is part of Biden's "American Families Plan," which is currently winding its way through Congress. The Biden proposal would provide paid family leave in a wide range of circumstances, including " for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member with a medical condition or for a personal serious health condition." But the length of the leave is relatively modest. Americans would be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave. That's about five fewer weeks than the OECD average of paid maternity leave in 1970.
Biden's proposal would phase the 12-week benefit in over a decade to reduce the cost. Two versions of the proposal being considered in the House and Senate would make the full benefit available immediately. The Biden proposal would provide "workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers." The House and Senate versions might up the maximum monthly benefit to $4,800.
...The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents nearly all major corporations, is doing everything it can to make sure that doesn't happen.
The Chamber is forming "an economy-wide coalition to coordinate the fight against the...economic package, including its significant price tag, policy scope and potential for tax increases." In addition to paid leave, the package also includes provisions related to health care, education, and other issues. In a press release, the Chamber pledged to "do everything we can to prevent this tax raising, job killing reconciliation bill from becoming law."
Biden would pay for a paid family leave benefit and other provisions by raising "the corporate [tax] rate to 28 percent from 21 percent" and making other changes that make it more difficult for corporations to avoid taxes by shifting profits overseas. While American families have spent decades without paid family leave, corporate profits reached a record $2.8 trillion in the second quarter of 2021.
The Chamber's effort could "encompass traditional lobbying on Capitol Hill as well as advertising campaigns targeting Democratic lawmakers." It could also form an alliance with "the National Association of Manufacturers, whose board includes executives from firms such as Dow Inc., Exxon, Caterpillar and Johnson & Johnson." Other corporate groups opposing the measure include "the Business Roundtable, whose board counts the chief executives from Apple and Walmart" and PhRMA.
About 200 companies are calling on Congress to pass paid leave legislation-- including SalesForce, Patagonia, Atlassian, and Stitch Fix. The group says that "paid leave also leads to better retention, personal health, and improved morale, which contributes to greater stability and viability for our businesses, ultimately helping our bottom line." These companies, however, are not driving the agenda at the Chamber or other powerful corporate lobbying groups.