With Dems In Control, Suddenly The GOP Has Been Reborn As The Austerity Party--Now For The Tug'O'War
This morning, Bernie was a guest on ABC News' This Week, where he was clear that passing coronavirus relief is more important than any DC "bipartisanship" game-playing. "We all look forward to working with Republicans," he said, without a visible trace of irony. "But right now, this country faces an unprecedented set of crises... We have got to act and we have to act now... The issue is not bipartisanship or not. The issue is, are we going to address the incredible set of crises and the pan and the anxiety... I don't care what anybody says, we have got to deal with this pandemic. We have got to make sure that we are producing the vaccines that we need and get those vaccines into the arms of people... The question is not bipartisanship; the question is addressing the unprecedented crises that we face right now. If Republicans want to work with us, they have better ideas on how to address those crises, that's great, but to be honest with you, I have not yet heard that."
Raddatz, predictably still whining about the phony bipartisanship that immediately becomes the end-all as for the corporate media the second a Democratic administration arrives in Washington, asked if the Dems can pass Biden's bill without conservative support.
"I believe that we do, because it's hard for me to imagine any Democrat-- no matter what state he or she may come from-- who doesn't understand the need to go forward right now in an aggressive way to protect the working families of this country. Look, all of us will have differences of opinions. This is a $1.9 trillion bill. I have differences and concerns about this bill. But at the end of the day, we're going to support the president of the United States and we're going to come forward and we're going to do what the American people overwhelmingly want us to do. The polling is overwhelming-- Republicans, Democrats, independents..."
Raddatz insisted on whining about Manchin, not even understanding that she would be better off in making her case by talking about the mental instability of Kyrsten Sinema than about anyone's politics. Manchin, after all, unlike Sinema, is likely, at the end of the day, to do what's best for his constituents. Sinema lives on Planet Kyrsten... and prefers it that way. Bernie and Biden are going to have to find one Republican to replace her. That might not be so easy now that all the self-identified "moderates" (also, without a trace of irony from these conservatives) are demanding a meeting with Biden to put forth their cheap-skate version of the bill. Biden is in no shape to meet with anyone and if he does is likely to champion the GOP bill anyway, which is likely more in line with his own thinking than "his" own much more progressive bill.
The 10 Republicans who couldn't have given a damn as Trump ran up the biggest peace-time deficits in history with extravagant tax cuts for the super-rich and schemes to enrich himself and his cronies, suddenly think we're spending too much when it comes to saving the country. These are the GOP whiners: Susan Collins (ME), Bill Cassidy (LA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Rob Portman (OH), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Todd Young (IN), Jerry Moran (KS), Thom Tillis (NC) and Mike Rounds (SD). It wouldn't surprise me a bit if McConnell wrote their scripts for them.
Schumer and Bernie-- the James Madison High School senators-- have quite the task. They have to hope the White House can keep Biden from giving away the store and they have to either be able to deliver all the rotgut conservative Dems-- including PsychoSinema, but also Manchin, Warner, Kelly, Frackenlooper, Feinstein, Carper and Hassan (+ Maine independent Angus King)-- or somehow persuade a Republican to join them after Biden and the Dems have rebuffed their approaches. There is absolutely no room for error and either Schumer or McConnell is going to walk away from this as a loser. Either Schumer will either keep his majority intact or lure away a Republican, or McConnell will lure away a grandstanding careerist-conservative Democrat.
Underscoring the urgency is the reality for Democrats that the economy is still struggling to reboot as Covid continues to ravage the country. Democrats are also cognizant of early mistakes in the Obama administration when Democrats spent months trying to win over Republicans on health care only to ultimately move ahead on their own.
Asked whether Biden officials Brian Deese, the director of the White House's National Economic Council, and Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, told Democrats Thursday to go ahead with budget reconciliation, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, "They just want us to get this thing passed. They talked about the economic data, which are looking grimmer by the minute. The unemployment numbers are very worrisome as are the housing numbers."
But agreeing to get something passed and sorting out the details are two distinct steps. The complications will only intensify in the weeks ahead. Once the budget passes, multiple committees in the House and Senate will begin writing legislation that will force Democrats to make tough decisions about where they want to go as a party-- not just on spending, but on issues like raising the minimum wage. While many Democrats support a provision like raising the minimum wage to $15 in isolation, cramming it through using the budget reconciliation process has raised concern.
"We are a big tent and that means that getting 50 votes on anything is not easy," Murphy said. "It's not possible to have a majority leader who has a better sense of where all the pieces need to be than Schumer, but it is a challenge. Nobody should take it for granted."
Schumer's challenge mirrors the one Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had in 2017. While Senate Republicans quickly passed a budget resolution that gave the committees instructions to repeal and replace Obamacare, McConnell never could get his members on the same page for a bill that could actually pass.
"It's very difficult-- we experienced this when Republicans were in the majority-- very difficult to pass a budget. And so the process of getting to reconciliation when a party is doing it solo is a real challenge," said GOP Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas. "So it would be a difficult scenario for the Democrats to get to a point to use reconciliation for a Covid-19 package."
...In the House, the margin for error is also small. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would only be able to lose a handful of votes both on the budget resolution and the final bill. While the expectation is the budget resolution passes easily, factions of her caucus are already laying down markers of what they think the package should ultimately look like. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar led a group of 50 House progressives in sending a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday asking them to prioritize recurring direct checks in the next Covid-19 relief package. Members of the bipartisan Problem Solver's Caucus, a [right-wing group the media insists on calling a] moderate group, has been talking with White House officials about their own concerns on making the final relief bill more targeted.
The House members most likely to vote to sabotage the bill are not Ilhan and the 50 progressives who want direct payments for working families. The bad apples are the ones eager to grandstanding make names fro themselves as independent conservative voices in the hopes of winning over conservative voters in their districts. The worst of them-- the half dozen with the most anti-progressive voting records right now-- all Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party:
My bet would be that the three most likely in the House to vote against the bill would be Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA), Golden (Blue Dog-ME) and Gottheimer (New Dem-NJ). Andy, by the way, if anyone knows of anyone who is planning to primary any of them next year, please contact me asap.